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London to Exeter

from £13.90
Looking for a West Country escape? Exeter is a great base. Here's our guide to finding the best fare.

Available train operators on this journey

  • Great Western Railway
  • South Western Railway

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What are my London to Exeter train options?

You have two options when it comes to catching a London to Exeter train. The fastest one is taking a Great Western Railway service from London Paddington, while South Western Railway operates a slower, but cheaper, train from London Waterloo.

Great Western Railway

You’ll usually find a ‘fast’ hourly London to Exeter train service on this route, and an extra, slower, train around every two hours. It runs from London Paddington. Here’s the typical service pattern:

    • Reading, Taunton*, Tiverton Parkway*, and Exeter St. Davids (2h10m - hourly)
    • Reading, Newbury*, Pewsey*, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, and Exeter St. Davids (2h15m to 2h35m - every two hours).

*Stations with an asterisk are not served by every train.

Here are the fares that you can expect to pay on the day of travel for tickets routed ‘via Taunton’:

    • Anytime Return - £299.00
    • Off-Peak Return - £139.90
    • Super Off-Peak Return - £104.90.

The outward part of the Off-Peak Return is valid between 09:17 and 16:40 and after 18:34 on weekdays. On the return, you can leave Exeter after 07:56, and you can also use the 07:20 service to Bristol Parkway (and change there for London).

The outward portion of the Super Off-Peak Return is valid between 10:10 and 15:04 and after 19:01 on weekdays. The return portion is valid from Exeter after 09:20. There aren’t any restrictions on weekends and Bank Holidays for both tickets.

South Western Railway

There’s usually one train per hour from London Waterloo to Exeter St David’s. These London to Exeter train services will normally stop at the following stations:

    • Woking, Basingstoke, Andover, Salisbury, Tisbury, Gillingham (Dorset), Templecombe, Sherborne, Yeovil Junction, Crewkerne, Axminster, Honiton, Feniton*, Whimple*, Cranbrook, Pinhoe, Exeter Central and Exeter St Davids.

A typical journey time is usually around 3h25m. The trains will usually call at either Feniton or Whimple during Off-Peak times, and won’t stop at both. The stops tend to alternate each hour.

Here are the fares that you can expect to pay on the day:

    • Anytime Open Return - £170.40
    • Anytime Day Return - £96.00
    • Off-Peak Return - £90.70
    • Super Off-Peak Return - £76.00.

You can use the outward part of the Off-Peak Return on the 08:20 from London Waterloo and later on weekdays. When you return, you can arrive back in London after 10:00. There aren’t any restrictions on weekends or Bank Holidays.

The Super Off-Peak Return is very restrictive. It’s only valid to leave London between 12:01 and 15:59 and after 19:01 on Mondays to Saturdays. When you return, you can’t arrive in London before 14:00. There aren’t any restrictions on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

How do I get the best London to Exeter train fare?

You can get the best London to Exeter train fare by booking with Railsmartr. As well as the fares we’ve listed above, you’ll be able to get cheap Advance tickets for specific trains. Here’s what we found for travel a month in advance: 

london to exeter train fares on railsmartr site

So, what can we take from this? First of all, South Western Railway is the cheapest London to Exeter train option by far. It might be slower, but £17.70 one-way is a good fare.

Meanwhile, the next cheapest option is the ‘slow’ service operated by Great Western Railway. These trains tend to leave Paddington during the even hours of the day at 35 minutes past. Finally, the most expensive trains are the ‘fast’ Great Western Railway ones.

What are the trains like?

Let’s have a look at what you can expect from the trains on the London to Exeter route, depending on which company you choose to travel with.

Great Western Railway

You’ll find the same type of train on all of Great Western Railway’s London to Exeter train services. These are InterCity Express trains, and they have five, nine, or 10 carriages. Every seat has access to a three-pin power socket and there’s free WiFi available. All seats in Standard Class are in a 2+2 layout:

All of these trains also have First Class. The seats are in a 2+1 layout and have all of the same features you’ll find in Standard, as well as USB charging points. We’ve been out and tried GWR First Class for ourselves, so you can decide if it’s worth the upgrade.

South Western Railway

The trains on South Western Railway are a little different. They’re normally formed of six carriages, and the type of train on this route is known as an Express Sprinter. There’s WiFi available, but you won’t find any plug sockets in Standard Class. All seats in Standard Class are in a 2+2 layout.

You’ll also find some First Class seats. They’re in a 2+1 layout and have access to power sockets at some of the seats.

Is there anything else I should know?

The final thing we’d recommend is using the Railsmartr website to book your London to Exeter train tickets. We’re completely independent, so we’re happy to ‘tell you like it is’ when it comes to rail fares!

Don’t forget that we don’t charge any fees, either. That includes if you change your mind and want to travel on a different day. If your ticket is refundable, we’ll refund it fee-free, too.

All fares stated on this page are for ONE adult with no Railcard discount and were correct at 12:00 26/09/2023. All information is issued in good faith. They’re subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided.