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Changing Trains – How to make it easier

We've picked out some handier places for you to change trains on your trip.
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Changing trains somewhere can be a source of anxiety and stress. What if you don’t know where to go? What if you don’t make the connection? Here’s our list of places that will make the change that little bit easier, and what to do if you don’t make your connection.

Is there an easier place to change trains?

When you think of changing trains, you’ll often think of those big and overwhelming stations. Maybe it’s Birmingham New Street, Crewe or Edinburgh Waverley. Either way, if you don’t know how to get from one platform to the other, it can be quite stressful.

Don’t worry though, there are other stations where you can change trains. They’re smaller, so you might just need to hop off and wait on the same platform. Doesn’t that sound better than running from what feels like one side of Birmingham to the other?

Changing trains in London

There often isn’t an easy way around this one. Whether you’re changing to and from the tube or just to another train, there might not be an alternative. Rest assured, we still have a few tips for changing trains in London.


Look at the picture below. Seems like a dream for changing between train and tube, doesn’t it? None of that faff running up and down escalators.

changing trains at farringdon

That’s why if you’re looking to change between Thameslink and the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, you should do it at Farringdon. This is the ideal alternative to Kings Cross St Pancras as it involves hopping over a footbridge at most. Just make sure you tap your Oyster or contactless card on the readers if you’ve had a paper ticket for Thameslink.

Thameslink Trains

Thameslink in general is an ideal alternative to jumping on and off the tube, depending on where you want to go. Their trains connect destinations both north and south of London, so there’s no need to get to the Underground. During the trip, they stop at St Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink (Mon-Sat only), Blackfriars and London Bridge.

If you need to change between Thameslink trains, you can pick between any of these stations, as it’ll generally be a same-platform interchange.

Avoiding London Euston

If you’re travelling from the Midlands or North West to the South Coast, then you might be asked to change at London Euston and then take a tube to Victoria or Waterloo. That can be stressful and take quite a while if you don’t know where you’re going when it comes to taking the tube!

Your alternative is to change at East Croydon or Clapham Junction and take the hourly Southern train to Watford Junction instead. You can do the same in reverse, too.

The journey between East Croydon and Watford Junction isn’t the fastest (just over an hour) but it’ll save you the stress of using the tube. It’ll likely be much easier too if you have mobility issues or a lot of luggage.

South East


Not only is this an easier station to change at compared to Brighton, but it also gives you extra journey opportunities if you’re travelling to/from Brighton.

Trains between Littlehampton and London Victoria provide a connection to/from a shuttle train to Brighton here on Sundays. This gives you an extra train each hour between the likes of Worthing and Brighton with a simple change. Heading towards Brighton, all you need to do is step off and walk across the platform.

If you’re travelling from Brighton and would like to change off the shuttle, you may need to change platforms and go to platform 3. Don’t worry though, the station has lifts if you need step-free access.

changing trains at hove

South West

Cheltenham Spa

If you’re changing between Nottingham to Cardiff and Edinburgh to Bristol/Plymouth/Penzance trains, then Cheltenham Spa is a useful alternative to Birmingham New Street. changing trains at cheltenham spaIt’s a same-platform change, so there’s no need to panic about how you’re going to navigate Birmingham New Street and its many platforms. It’s also a better place to change if you’re travelling between the Midlands/North East and Stonehouse/Stroud/Kemble/Swindon. There’s a lot less walking involved than if you change at Gloucester.


If you’re travelling to and from Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury, you might find it easier to change trains at Chippenham when you’re going to and from Swindon, Reading and London.

It’s a same-platform change, which isn’t guaranteed when you’re changing at Swindon.

Exeter Central

Making a journey between the Exmouth Line and Barnstaple, Okehampton or Yeovil Junction/London Waterloo? You may find it more practical to change at Exeter Central.

When you’re travelling from Barnstaple/Okehampton to Exmouth or vice-versa, it’ll be the same platform, which isn’t guaranteed at Exeter St David’s.

You’ll need to pop over the footbridge if you’re coming from Waterloo and heading to Exmouth, but don’t worry. It’s just a short walk and there’s step-free access available.

Newton Abbot

This is usually a good alternative to changing at Exeter St David’s if you’re travelling to/from either Ivybridge or stations south of Plymouth. Provided you’re heading in the same direction, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the same platform.

It’s also a good option for changing to/from the line to Paignton. Just be aware that if you’re travelling north from Paignton, you’ll likely need to use the footbridge or lifts.


Birmingham International

If you’re travelling from north of Birmingham to Hampton-in-Arden, Berkswell, Tile Hill or Canley, you’ll probably prefer to change here. You could also use this station for Coventry and beyond if you’re on a Transport for Wales service that terminates at Birmingham International.

If you’re travelling towards Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth or Pwllheli, then most Transport for Wales services start here. This makes it ideal for getting yourself a seat before the train becomes more crowded at Birmingham New Street.

You may need to change platforms, but it’s a relatively small station with step-free access throughout.


This is another alternative to changing trains at Birmingham New Street. It’s most useful if you’re going from somewhere such as Manchester to Rugby or Northampton, as it’ll either be a same-platform connection or the next platform over the footbridge.

Leamington Spa

If you want to change between CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways services, it’s best to do it here rather than changing stations in Birmingham.

If you’re travelling in the same direction, it’ll always be the same platform.


If you need to travel to/from Wilnecote, you might prefer to change here instead. It’s the same platform if you’re making a journey such as Leeds to Wilnecote. Just make sure that your train calls at Tamworth, first.

You can also use Tamworth to change if you’re travelling south of Birmingham New Street. Again, just make sure that both of your trains call there first!



When trains to Newcastle were moved away from Manchester Piccadilly, many people were anxious about the need to change trains. Usually, the first stations that come to mind are York and Leeds. These are huge and it could take a while if you have mobility issues or a lot of luggage.

Huddersfield is ideal if your train is going to/from the ‘wrong’ Manchester station. Simply jump off and wait on the same platform if you’re heading east. If you’re going west towards Manchester, you might need to head over to platform 4. This is under the subway, but there are lifts available!


If you’re travelling from the likes of Bolton-on-Dearne, Swinton and Rotherham to Manchester, you might prefer to change here. It’s a same-platform interchange.

Similarly, if you’re going from Wombwell, Elsecar or Chapeltown to Dronfield, Chesterfield or Nottingham, you might find it to be easier to change here, too. Just make sure that both of your trains stop at Meadowhall.

Wakefield Westgate

If both of the trains you’re changing between call at Wakefield Westgate, then you should definitely change there instead! Leeds is a huge station and it could take you a while to get between platforms.

Meanwhile, same-direction changes will always be the same platform here. It might save you time and will definitely save you stress.

North West

Manchester Oxford Road

Travelling from west to east? It’s definitely worth changing at Manchester Oxford Road if both trains stop there. Not only will it be less crowded than the very busy Manchester Piccadilly, but you’re more likely to get a seat.

If you can, it’s always worth joining a train at Oxford Road before it calls at Piccadilly.

Salford Crescent

If you’re travelling across Manchester Victoria, double-check if both of your trains call at Salford Crescent. It’s just a single island platform, so there are no steps or changing platforms needed.

North East


If your train doesn’t go to/from Scotland (or Chester-le-Street!) and you need to change to a train that gets there, this is the better option. Trains are generally always scheduled to use the same platform at Darlington if they’re going in the same direction.

This is a better alternative to Newcastle or York, where you might need to change platforms. You could also use Durham in the same way, but not every train stops there.

changing trains at darlington



Coming from the North West and going elsewhere in Scotland? Changing at Haymarket will probably be easier. It’s far smaller and easier to navigate. It’s also worth doing this even if changing between destinations in Scotland.

Edinburgh Waverley has more facilities, but if you’re after a fast changeover, you might be disappointed!


Newport (South Wales)

Journeys to/from England going to/from west of Cardiff are generally easier when you change at Newport. There are fewer platforms, so it’s more likely you won’t have to walk as far. Just make sure that both trains call at Newport, first.


Going to/from the likes of Fishguard, Milford Haven and Carmarthen? If you’re interchanging with the London train, it might be easier to change here.

You’ll need to change platforms but it’s a short walk and you might have more time to do it, too. Just make sure that the London train you’re using goes all the way to Swansea.

What if changing trains goes wrong?

Everyone worries about catching their connecting train. Their first train might be late, or they might not know where to go. Don’t panic, though. If your train is late and you don’t make your connection, you can travel on the next train. If you have an Advance ticket, it’ll normally need to be operated by the same company. Sometimes, when there’s a lot of disruption, there might be ticket acceptance with other companies.

If you have a Super Off-Peak, Off-Peak or Anytime ticket, you can just get on the next train, subject to any restrictions it (such as a specific route or operator).

Do you think you might miss the last train? Speak to a member of staff as soon as you can. If it’s because of a delay, they can arrange alternative transport to your destination. You cannot be left stranded. You can also find out more about your rights as a passenger in the National Rail Conditions of Travel.

I’m ready to go! What’s next?

If you’re ready to book your ticket, then we’d recommend doing it with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any booking fees, refund fees or exchange fees. In fact, we never charge any fees, ever!

We’ve written a wide selection of other Expert Tips to help you with your journey. Looking for more? Make sure to check out our handy videos on Instagram, too.