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London to Manchester

from £28.00
Here’s our guide on how to book the cheapest London to Manchester train tickets for your next trip.

Available train operators on this journey

  • Avanti West Coast
  • London Northwestern Railway

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What are my London to Manchester train options?

There are two main options for a London to Manchester train trip. You can take Avanti West Coast directly or choose West Midlands Trains up to Crewe and then change to Northern or Transport for Wales. Let’s take a look at each option.

Avanti West Coast

If you choose Avanti West Coast, then you can expect up to three London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly train services every hour. Here are their calling patterns:

    • Nuneaton, Stoke-on-Trent, Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly (2h05m-2h10m)
    • Stafford, Crewe, Wilmslow, Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly (2h10m-2h15m)
    • Milton Keynes Central, Rugby, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly (2h10m-2h15m).

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

    • Anytime Return - £369.40
    • Off-Peak Return - £109.00.

There is an extremely large premium for travelling in ‘peak’ times, as you can see. The outward portion of the Off-Peak Return is valid between 09:27 and 14:59 and after 18:45 on Mondays to Thursdays. When you return, you can arrive in London after 11:30 on Mondays to Thursdays. There aren’t any restrictions on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays or Bank Holidays.

West Midlands Trains (changing at Crewe)

This is a more cost-effective way to make a London to Manchester train journey, especially at peak times. You’ll need to take this train up to Crewe where you can change for Northern or Transport for Wales services. Here’s the calling pattern of the train, which runs every hour:

    • Milton Keynes Central, Rugby, Nuneaton, Atherstone, Tamworth, Lichfield Trent Valley, Rugeley Trent Valley, Stafford and Crewe.

The typical journey time up to Crewe is between 2h05m and 2h15m. The entire journey to Manchester is likely to take you around 3hrs.

Here are the fares that you can expect to pay on the day for each segment of the journey:

    • Anytime Return - £138.50
    • Off-Peak Return - £52.90
    • Super Off-Peak Return - £42.10.

The outward portion of the Off-Peak Return is valid after 08:45 on weekdays. When you return, you can arrive back in London after 10am. There aren’t any restrictions on weekends or Bank Holidays.

Meanwhile, the Super Off-Peak Return is quite restrictive. It’s only valid to leave London between 13:00 and 15:59 and after 19:00 on Mondays to Saturdays. When you return, it’s valid to arrive in London after 13:00 on Mondays to Saturdays. You also can’t commence your journey between 16:00 and 19:00. There aren’t any restrictions on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

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

You can get the best London to Manchester train fare with Railsmartr. If you want to travel with Avanti West Coast, or West Midlands Trains and Transport for Wales, you can simply search for a direct journey. If you want to get the very cheapest combination (usually by taking a Northern train between Crewe and Manchester), you’ll need to search separately for London to Crewe and Crewe to Manchester.

Avanti West Coast

Let’s see what the fares are like a month in advance for a London to Manchester train journey with Avanti West Coast:london to manchester train fares on railsmartr

The rule of thumb is that the cheapest fares will be outside of ‘peak’ times. You can expect to pay an extremely high fare during the morning and evening peak on a Monday to Thursday, while fares in the middle of the day tend to be more reasonable.

We’d recommend booking at least a few days in advance. It’s worth remembering that the first ‘Off-Peak’ train is likely to be extremely busy, too.

West Midlands Trains and changing at Crewe

First of all, if this is the cheapest option when booking between London and Manchester, we'll always show it. This is more likely to happen closer to the date of travel when fares are more expensive on Avanti West Coast. Let's look at an example: 

London to Manchester train fares on Railsmartr site showing West Midlands Trains as cheapest option

Alternatively, it might be cheaper to book from London to Crewe, then from Crewe to Manchester. This is the very slowest option, but it gives you the chance to book some extremely cheap Advance tickets on Northern for the Crewe to Manchester leg. 

Let’s take a look at the fares for this option a month in advance. Let’s start with the London to Crewe part of the journey:

euston to crewe train fares on railsmartr with west midlands trains

Next, let’s look at our options between Crewe and Manchester:

crewe to manchester train fares on railsmartr

You’ll find the cheapest Advance tickets on Northern services. So, if you don’t mind a slow trip, you can get from London to Manchester for as little as £13.70.

Remember that you’ll need to leave at least 10 minutes between trains at Crewe. Even if there’s a delay and you miss your connection, you’ll be able to get the next available train (subject to any operator restrictions on your ticket).

What are the trains like?

Let’s look at the kind of trains you can expect on a London to Manchester train journey and their features.

Avanti West Coast

Taking an Avanti West Coast train? You’ll have a Pendolino train. They’re currently being refurbished and have either nine or 11 carriages. The refurbished ones have a power socket at every seat:

Meanwhile, Standard Premium and First Class have seats in a 2+1 layout. Wondering what the difference is? We’ve taken a trip to compare them.

Feeling peckish? There’s a shop in Coach C. If you’re in First Class, then you’ll get complimentary food and drink served at your seat.

As for seat comfort, we’d recommend the refurbished trains. They have more legroom, winged headrests and generally more space to stretch out. As of April 2024, all 11-coach trains and most nine-coach trains have now been refurbished. 

If you don't have a reservation, then Coach C is the unreserved coach on the nine-coach trains. If you have an 11-coach train, then the unreserved coaches are Cand G.

West Midlands Trains

Taking the cheaper, but still direct route? Then you’ll have a Desiro train. They have quite a few different layouts. Some of them have seats in a 2+2 layout, and others have them in a 3+2 layout:

The trains with a 2+2 layout have sockets at every window seat, while the ones with 3+2 seating only have them in the former First Class area.

There isn’t any First Class on these trains anymore and you won’t find any catering. So, we’d recommend packing a picnic!

All seating is unreserved. It isn't possible to reserve a seat ahead of time on these trains.

Is there anything else I should know?

The final thing we’d recommend is using the Railsmartr website to book your London to Manchester 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 as of 10/10/2023. Walk-up fares were updated in April 2024. 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.