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LNER

LNER are in charge of one of the 'flagship' routes in Great Britain. They run trains between Scotland, Leeds and London via the 'East Coast Mainline'.

Who are LNER?

LNER are the main operator on the East Coast Mainline, with their busiest route being between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross. They have 65 ‘Azuma‘ trains, as well as 12 Class 91 locomotives that can be attached to one of eight InterCity 225 sets.

They serve 55 stations, and they run 11 of them.

As LNER are the ‘main’ operator on most of the routes that they serve, and as they’re often very popular (with many trains being completely sold out), there aren’t a lot of ways to get cheap fares, especially last minute.

Our first recommendation would be booking as far in advance as you can. LNER services tend to open for booking at least 12 weeks beforehand, unless there are engineering works in the pipeline. This gives you plenty of time to see what’s on offer. Typically, Friday mornings are the best time to travel down to London. They’re quieter, and there aren’t any peak restrictions in/out of London on a Friday, either.

Weekends are often the busiest time to travel. We’d recommend avoiding mid-morning to mid-evening on a Saturday, and up to mid-evening on a Sunday. Services are usually very busy and will typically be more expensive. LNER don’t offer all of their services at the same starting price, and will price tickets higher if they think they’ll fill the train anyway.

If you’re travelling from Scotland or the North East to destinations in Yorkshire, keep an eye out for some cheaper journeys that involve LNER and Northern. Here’s an example from Newcastle to Sheffield, offered five days in advance through Railsmartr:

On board services

4 out of 5
Luggage

All trains have at least two (and up to four) large luggage stacks per carriage. On the ‘Azuma’ trains, you’ll find that the overhead racks are capable of fitting a cabin-sized suitcase with ease.

4 out of 5
Food & Drink

LNER has the ‘Let’s Eat at Your Seat’ service. This allows you to scan a QR code on the seat-back or table and you can order food and drink from the Cafe Bar directly to your seat. Alternatively, you can visit the Cafe Bar instead. This service is entirely card-only.

4 out of 5
WIFI

Free and relatively fast WiFi is available on all LNER trains. You’ll need to make a user account before you can get connected.

Travel with children

You’ll find plenty of table seats in every carriage and three-pin power sockets under every seat in Standard Class (USB ports available in First) to keep devices powered up.

Bikes

You need to make a reservation in order to bring non-folding bikes on trains with LNER. This can be done at a station ticket office or on their website.

 

Pets

Up to two dogs, cats or other small domestic animals can travel for free on LNER. There’s a fee of up to £5 for each additional pet. Make sure that dogs are kept off seats and out of the aisles. They should also be kept on a lead. Well-behaved dogs and assistance dogs are welcome in First Class carriages and in First Class lounges, too.

Standard Class

As we’ve mentioned above, LNER run two different fleets. The bulk of their services of operated by Class 800 and Class 801 ‘Azuma‘ trains. They have a mixture of five and nine carriages, with the five-carriage ones sometimes running in pairs to make a 10-carriage train.

The Class 800 trains can run on both diesel and electric power, while the Class 801 trains are purely electric.

Inside the trains, seating is laid out in a 2+2 arrangement (2+1 in First). You’ll find a power socket at every seat, no matter which class you’re sat in.

If you’re going to/from Leeds, you might have an InterCity 225 train instead. They’re fully electric and all have nine carriages.

The seating layout is fairly similar to the Azuma. Standard Class has 2+2 seating, while First Class is 2+1. You’ll find power sockets at the window seats:

If you need an unreserved seat, you’ll find them in one half of Coach C. This applies to all LNER trains.

Can I upgrade to First Class?

As we wrote in our review of the best First Class trains in the UK, LNER offers a good First Class product. You’ll get complimentary food and drink on board, with the selection being from their Deli, Dish or Dine menu.

First Class seating is in a 2+1 layout. On Azuma trains, all seats have access to a three-pin socket and a USB socket, while window seats have access to three-pin sockets on InterCity 225 trains.

You’re best to book a trip from one of the major stations (eg. Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Leeds or London) of at least an hour to make sure that you get the full selection. First Class fares can be fairly pricey, but good-value Advance fares are often available at the last minute if you’re not travelling to/from London.

Information about routes

  • Edinburgh to London King’s Cross (two per hour), with selected trains to/from:
    • Inverness
    • Aberdeen
    • Glasgow Central
    • Stirling
  • Leeds to London King’s Cross (two per hour), with some starting/finishing at:
    • Harrogate
    • Skipton
    • Bradford Forster Square
  •  Lincoln to London King’s Cross (every two hours).

You’ll also find less regular services (usually once a day or once every weekday) from Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Hull to London.

From Monday to Saturday, an extra train runs every two hours between York and London. On Sundays, three trains per hour run from Edinburgh to London.

Fun Facts

Did you know that LNER still chooses to name their ‘flagship’ trains? One of the most famous ones is the Flying Scotsman, which leaves Edinburgh at 05:40 every weekday, and only stops at Newcastle on the way to London, where it arrives at 09:40.

The 09:52 Aberdeen to London and the 10:00 London to Aberdeen are known as the Northern Lights, while the 07:55 Inverness to London and 12:00 London to Inverness are named the Highland Chieftain. The newest named train, the Carolean Express, leaves London for Edinburgh at 11:00.

Finally, the 06:30 from Bradford Forster Square to London is known as the West Riding Limited on weekdays.