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Manchester to Edinburgh

from £20.60
Visiting Edinburgh? Here’s our handy guide on what to expect on your journey from Manchester.

Available train operators on this journey

  • TransPennine Express
  • Avanti West Coast
  • Northern

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What are my Manchester to Edinburgh train options?

There are two main options when it comes to taking a Manchester to Edinburgh train. You can either take a direct TransPennine Express service, or you can take Northern up to Preston and then Avanti West Coast to Edinburgh. Let’s take a look at how frequent these options are and how long they typically take.

TransPennine Express

This is the simplest option for a Manchester to Edinburgh train journey. There’s a train every two hours, with there being seven each way on Monday to Saturday and four on Sundays. This is the typical stopping pattern:

    • Bolton (pick-up only)*, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District, Penrith North Lakes, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Haymarket and Edinburgh.

Bolton isn’t served by every train. The typical journey time is around 3h10m to 3h20m. Let’s take a look at the fares that you can expect to pay on the day. They’re also valid on any other operator so long as you go via Carlisle:

    • Anytime Short Return - £145.50
    • Off-Peak Return - £95.50

The Off-Peak Return is valid after 09:00 on weekdays in both directions. There aren’t any restrictions on weekends and Bank Holidays.

Avanti West Coast & Northern

Your other Manchester to Edinburgh train option involves a change at Preston. First of all, you’d need to take a frequent (at least every 30 minutes) Northern service, and then an Avanti West Coast train.

The Avanti West Coast trains run from Preston to Edinburgh every two hours. You’ll find seven trains each way on Monday to Saturday and five on Sundays. The stopping pattern of these trains can vary, but you can expect a Manchester to Edinburgh train journey on this route to take around 3h20m to 3h40m.

Here are the fares that you can expect to pay on the day. They’re only valid on Avanti West Coast and Northern:

    • Anytime Return - £96.60
    • Off-Peak Return - £70.70.

The Off-Peak Return is valid after 09:00 on weekdays in both directions. There aren’t any restrictions on weekends and Bank Holidays.

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

You can get the best Manchester to Edinburgh train fare with Railsmartr. We’ll show you all of your options, even the slower options, so you can pick the ideal balance of speed and cost for you. Let’s take a look at the fares one month ahead: 

manchester to edinburgh train fares on railsmartr

As you can see, the cheapest Manchester to Edinburgh train option is the direct TransPennine Express service. However, the Avanti West Coast and Northern option isn’t far behind. In a nutshell, if you can book ahead, the former will be the cheapest, while the latter is a good shout for a cheaper last-minute fare.

It’s also possible to travel via York with LNER, but we wouldn’t recommend this. It’s slower and it’s significantly more expensive.

What are the trains like?

Let’s go through the trains that run on the Manchester to Edinburgh route and what their features are.

TransPennine Express

If you’re using TransPennine Express on your Manchester to Edinburgh train trip, then you’re likely to have a Nova 2. They have five carriages and have seats in a 2+2 layout in Standard Class:

You’ll find a USB port and three-pin socket at every seat as well as free WiFi. There’s also a catering trolley on every train, with free refreshments if you’re in First Class. First Class seating is in a 2+1 layout.

Avanti West Coast

Taking an Avanti West Coast train? You’re likely to 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.

Is there anything else I should know?

The final thing we’d recommend is using the Railsmartr website to book your Manchester to Edinburgh 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 14:00 02/10/2023. 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.