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A guide to food on the train

Sometimes, we want to have something to eat on the go. Luckily, many rail companies offer food on the train. If you’re in Standard Class, you have to pay, while First Class passengers are likely to get something to eat and drink for free. Let’s take a look at which companies offer food on the train, what it’s like and how you can get it.

Which companies offer food on the train?

First of all, let’s take a look at who offers food on the train in Standard Class. Here’s a breakdown of who offers it, when they offer it and how they offer it:

Company Is food available? How is it offered? When?
Avanti West Coast Yes Shop – Coach C All services
c2c No N/A N/A
Caledonian Sleeper Yes At-seat/restaurant All services
Chiltern Railways No N/A N/A
CrossCountry Yes At-seat trolley Check here and here
East Midlands Railway InterCity Services Trolley/buffet Most InterCity services
Elizabeth Line No N/A N/A
Gatwick Express No N/A N/A
Grand Central Yes Mobile ordering/buffet All services
Great Northern No N/A N/A
Great Western Railway InterCity/Night Riviera At-seat trolley/buffet** Typically 0600-1930
Greater Anglia Norwich-London only At-seat trolley/buffet Mon-Sat. See here
Heathrow Express No N/A N/A
Hull Trains Yes N/A N/A
LNER Yes Mobile ordering/buffet All services
London Overground No N/A N/A
Lumo Yes Online pre-order/trolley All services
Merseyrail No N/A N/A
Northern No N/A N/A
ScotRail Some long-distance At-seat trolley See here
South Western Railway No N/A N/A
Southeastern No N/A N/A
Southern No N/A N/A
Thameslink No N/A N/A
TransPennine Express Yes At-seat trolley See below
Transport for Wales Selected routes At-seat trolley/buffet See below
West Midlands Trains No N/A N/A

**Buffet/Restaurant on Night Riviera train only.

Food on the train on TransPennine Express and Transport for Wales

These two operators only offer food on the train on certain routes and at certain times. Here’s a breakdown of what they advertise.

On TransPennine Express, all services between Manchester Airport/Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central/Edinburgh should have food and drink available.

On other routes, catering is available only between 07:00 and 18:30 Monday to Friday and 09:00 to 18:30 on weekends, on the following routes:

  • Manchester Piccadilly to York (Saltburn and Scarborough trains)
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds (Hull trains)
  • Sheffield to Manchester Piccadilly (Cleethorpes to Liverpool services)
  • Newcastle to Liverpool Lime Street
  • Newcastle to Edinburgh.

If you’re travelling with Transport for Wales, you’ll find a buffet counter and trolley service on ‘Premier‘ trains between Cardiff Central and Holyhead.

A trolley service is available on most trains on the following routes:

  • Carmarthen to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Cardiff Central to Holyhead
  • Aberystwyth to Birmingham International
  • Holyhead to Birmingham International
  • Llandudno Junction to Manchester Airport.

What if I’m travelling in First Class?

If you’re travelling in First Class, then you’ll probably be able to get food on the train if food in Standard Class is mentioned in the table above. Additionally, Hull Trains offer at-seat catering in First Class.

When these services are available can vary. On LNER, Avanti West Coast, Hull Trains and Grand Central, as well as TransPennine Express trains between Manchester/Liverpool and Scotland, you can get it on all trains.

Take a look at our guide to the best First Class trains for more information on what you can expect.

Can I order food on the train to my seat?

Some companies will allow you to order food on the train from your phone and they’ll bring it straight to you. This means that you don’t need to wait for a trolley or walk down to the buffet car!

On LNER, there’s a Let’s Eat at Your Seat service. Just scan the QR code, which is usually on the back of the seat, like in this picture:

Just select what you’re after, pop in your seat number and it’ll be brought to you. Your card isn’t charged until your food is on its way, just in case anything is out of stock.

Lumo offers a LumoEats service, which means that you can order online before you travel. The way this works is that they pick up food from different station outlets then bring it to your seat once you’re on board. You need to do this at least two hours before your train leaves, and it’s only available if you’re starting your trip in London or Edinburgh. Lighter snacks and drinks are available from a trolley on the train, and you don’t need to pre-order those.

Grand Central give you the option to order online from the buffet, but you’ll need to collect it from there. However, rather than queuing up and waiting, you’ll just get a notification when it’s ready.

Is there a restaurant car that has food on the train?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any restaurant cars on daytime trains in Great Britain. On the Caledonian Sleeper and Great Western Railway’s Night Riviera, you’ll find a dedicated restaurant/cafe car.

The only exception selected long-distance Great Western Railway services which offer a Pullman Dining carriage. This is a restaurant-quality meal service, and it’s open to all passengers, though priority is given to those in First Class.

As of June 2023, it’s available on the following trains:

  • 13:04 and 19:04 Paddington to Plymouth
  • 13:15 and 18:16 Plymouth to Paddington
  • 12:23 Swansea to Paddington
  • 17:48 Paddington to Swansea.

If you have a First Class ticket, you can pre-book a table here. If you don’t, speak to the staff on board to see if there’s space.

Is there anything else I should know?

Here at Railsmartr, we know how difficult it can be to navigate the world of train travel. Why not check out our page on the best time to travel for cheap tickets next?

Thinking of taking a trip soon? You can book it all with Railsmartr. We’ll be sure to show you the slower and cheaper options, so you can get the best value fare for your journey.

Changed your mind? Need to travel on a different day? No problem at all. You can change or refund your ticket (if it’s refundable) without any extra fees.

All of the information stated on this page was correct as of 27/06/2023. It’s subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided.