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Changing Trains – How to make it easier

Changing trains somewhere can be a source of anxiety and stress. What if you don’t know where to go? What if you don’t make the connection? Here’s our list of places that will make the change that little bit easier, and what to do if you don’t make your connection.

Is there an easier place for changing trains?

When you think of changing trains, you’ll often think of those big and overwhelming stations. Maybe it’s Birmingham New Street, Crewe or Edinburgh Waverley. Either way, if you don’t know how to get from one platform to the other, you’re going to be anxious. Sometimes you’ll only have a few minutes to change, too!

Don’t worry though, there’s other stations where you can change trains. They’re smaller, so you might just need to hop off and wait on the same platform. Doesn’t that sound better than running from what feels like one side of Birmingham to the other?

We’re going to split them by region, so you can easily find that part of the country that you’re looking for.

Changing trains in London

There often isn’t an easy way around this one. Whether you’re changing to and from the tube or just to another train, there might not be an alternative. Rest assured, we have a few tips for changing trains in London!


Look at the picture below. Seems like a dream for changing between train and tube, doesn’t it? None of that faff running up and down escalators.

changing trains at farringdon

That’s why if you’re looking to change between Thameslink and the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, you should do it at Farringdon. This is the ideal alternative to Kings Cross St Pancras as it involves hopping over a footbridge at most. Just make sure you tap your Oyster or contactless card on the readers if you’ve had a paper ticket for Thameslink.

Thameslink Trains

In fact, Thameslink in general is an ideal alternative to jumping on and off the tube, depending on where you want to go. Their trains connect destinations both north and south of London, meaning that there’s no need to get the Underground. On the way, they stop at St Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink (Mon-Sat only), Blackfriars and London Bridge.

If you need to change between Thameslink trains, you can pick between any of these stations, as it’ll generally be a same-platform interchange. However, we’d always recommend Blackfriars. You can’t beat the view:

Avoiding London Euston

If you’re travelling from the Midlands or North West to the South Coast, then you might be asked to change at London Euston then take a tube to Victoria or Waterloo. That can be stressful and take quite a while if you don’t know where you’re going when it comes to taking the tube!

Your alternative is to change at East Croydon or Clapham Junction (the former is a lot smaller!) and taking the hourly Southern train to Watford Junction instead. You can do the same in reverse, too.

The journey between East Croydon and Watford Junction isn’t the fastest (just over an hour) but it’ll save you the stress of using the tube. It’ll likely be much easier too if you have mobility issues or a lot of luggage.

South East


Not only is this an easier station to change at compared to Brighton, but it also gives you extra journey opportunities if you’re travelling to/from Brighton.

Trains between Littlehampton and London Victoria provide a connection to/from a shuttle train to Brighton here. This gives you an extra two trains an hour between the likes of Worthing and Brighton with a simple change. Heading towards Brighton, all you need to do is step off and walk across the platform.

If you’re travelling from Brighton and would like to change off the shuttle, you may need to change platforms and go to platform 3. Don’t worry though, the station has lifts as well, if you need step-free access.

In a nutshell, don’t be afraid of changing trains at Hove. It’ll open up many more journey opportunities to you!

changing trains at hove

When travelling between Leamington Spa/Banbury and London Paddington, you’re likely to find it far easier to change at Oxford.

The changeover at Oxford in both directions is the same platform, while there could be quite the trek at Reading. Of course, there are fewer services from Oxford, so check the timetable carefully.


When changing trains between the London Liverpool Street to Norwich and Ipswich to Peterborough/Cambridge lines, it may be easier to change at Stowmarket.

In particular, the trains that come from Peterborough have a nicely timed connection during the day into the train towards London. This will always be the same platform.

For other connections, just double-check the timetable before you travel, as not all trains to/from London call at Stowmarket.

South West

Cheltenham Spa

If you’re changing between Nottingham to Cardiff and Edinburgh to Bristol/Plymouth/Penzance trains, then Cheltenham Spa is a useful alternative to Birmingham New Street.

It’s a same-platform change, so there’s no need to panic about how you’re going to navigate Birmingham New Street and its many platforms.

Travelling northbound, the best connection is usually when travelling from Cardiff/Gloucester and going to Sheffield/Leeds and the north.

Going south, it works best for those travelling from the north and Leeds/Sheffield towards Cardiff.


If you’re going travelling to and from Melksham, Trowbridge and Westbury, you might find it easier changing trains at Chippenham when you’re going to and from Swindon, Reading and London.

It’s a same-platform change, which isn’t guaranteed when you’re changing at Swindon.

changing trains at chippenham
Exeter Central

Making a journey between the Exmouth Line and Barnstaple, Okehampton or Yeovil Junction/London Waterloo? You may find it more practical to change at Exeter Central.

When you’re travelling from Barnstaple/Okehampton to Exmouth or vice-versa, it’ll be the same platform, which isn’t guaranteed at Exeter St David’s.

You’ll need to pop over the footbridge if you’re changing between the London Waterloo and Exmouth lines, but don’t worry. It’s just a short walk and there’s step-free access available.

Newton Abbot

This is usually a good alternative to changing at Exeter St David’s if you’re travelling to/from either Ivybridge or stations south of Plymouth. Provided you’re heading in the same direction, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the same platform.

It’s also a good option for changing to/from the line to Paignton. Just be aware that if you’re travelling north from Paignton, you’ll likely need to use the footbridge or lifts.


Birmingham International

If you’re travelling from north of Birmingham to Hampton-in-Arden, Berkswell, Tile Hill or Canley, you’ll probably prefer to change here. You could also use this station for Coventry and beyond if you’re on a Transport for Wales service that terminates at Birmingham International.

If you’re travelling towards Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth or Pwllheli, then most Transport for Wales services start here. This makes it ideal for getting yourself a seat before the train becomes more crowded at Birmingham New Street.

You may need to change platforms, but it’s a relatively small station with step-free access throughout.


This is another alternative to changing trains at Birmingham New Street. It’s most useful if you’re going from somewhere such as Manchester to Rugby or Northampton, as it’ll either be a same-platform connection or the next platform over the footbridge.


Similar to Cheltenham Spa, this can be a useful station if you’re changing between trains that run between Edinburgh and Plymouth/Penzance and Nottingham and Cardiff.

It might not be the same platform you’ll change at, but it’s a lot less stressful than Birmingham New Street!

Leamington Spa

If you’re wanting to change between CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways services, it’s best to do it here rather than changing stations in Birmingham.

If you’re travelling in the same direction, it’ll always be the same platform.


If you need to travel to/from Wilnecote, you might prefer to change here instead. It’s the same platform if you’re making a journey such as Leeds to Wilnecote. Just make sure that your train calls at Tamworth, first.

You can also use Tamworth to change if you’re travelling south of Birmingham New Street. Again, just make sure that both of your trains call there first!


This is a great alternative to Birmingham New Street for a number of different journeys. For example, if you’re changing between the Manchester to Reading/Bournemouth and Edinburgh/Glasgow to London trains, it’s far easier to do it here.

Most changes in the same direction will be the same platform or simply across the platform.



When trains to Newcastle were moved away from Manchester Piccadilly, many people were anxious about the need to change trains. Usually, the first stations that come to mind are York and Leeds. These are huge and it could take a while if you have mobility issues or a lot of luggage.

Huddersfield is ideal if your train is going to/from the ‘wrong’ Manchester station. Simply jump off and wait on the same platform if you’re heading east. If you’re going west towards Manchester, you might need to head over to platform 4. This is under the subway, but there are lifts available!

Hebden Bridge

If you’re travelling to/from east of Leeds and need to get to/from Todmorden, Rochdale or Manchester Victoria, this is one of the better places to do it.

It’s a same-platform change, and it’s a very pretty place to wait. It was renovated in 1997 and received signage in the original style of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.


If you’re travelling from the likes of Bolton-on-Dearne, Swinton and Rotherham to Manchester, you might prefer to change here. It’s a same-platform interchange.

Similarly, if you’re going from Wombwell, Elsecar or Chapeltown to Dronfield, Chesterfield or Nottingham, you might find it to be easier to change here, too. Just make sure that both of your trains stop at Meadowhall.


If you’re going to/from west of Manchester (such as Wigan or Salford) and you need to get to/from West Yorkshire, you might prefer to change here.

When taking the train from Chester or Warrington to Burnley or Rose Grove, this will be easier too. On all of these journeys, this will avoid needing to swap trains at Manchester Victoria.

changing trains at todmorden
Wakefield Westgate

If both of the trains you’re changing between call at Wakefield Westgate, then you should definitely change there instead! Leeds is a huge station and it could take you a while to get between platforms.

Meanwhile, same-direction changes will always be the same platform here. It might save you time and will definitely save you stress!

North West


Lancaster is often the preferred alternative compared to changing trains at Preston. It’s smaller and you’re more likely to be changing on the same platform.

A small number of trains don’t call at Lancaster though, so always double-check this first.

Manchester Oxford Road

Travelling from west to east? It’s definitely worth changing at Manchester Oxford Road if both trains stop there. Not only will it be less crowded than the very busy Manchester Piccadilly, but you’re more likely to get a seat.

If you can, it’s always worth joining a train at Oxford Road before it calls at Piccadilly.


Journeys such as Bolton to Todmorden (or vice-versa) have the easiest change at Rochdale. If your train from Bolton goes through to Rochdale, it’s worth staying on-board for a shorter cross-platform changeover.

Salford Crescent

If you’re travelling across Manchester Victoria, double-check if both of your trains call at Salford Crescent. It’s just a single island platform, so there’s no steps or changing platforms needed.

North East


If your train doesn’t go to/from Scotland (or Chester-le-Street!) and you need to change onto a train that gets there, this is the better option. Trains are generally always scheduled to use the same platform at Darlington if they’re going in the same direction.

This is a better alternative to Newcastle or York, where you might need to change platforms. You could also use Durham in the same way, but not every train stops there.

changing trains at darlington



Coming from the North West and going elsewhere in Scotland? Changing at Haymarket will probably be easier. It’s far smaller and easier to navigate. It’s also worth doing this even if changing between destinations in Scotland.

Edinburgh Waverley has more facilities, but if you’re after a fast changeover, you might be disappointed!


Newport (South Wales)

Journeys to/from England going to/from west of Cardiff are generally easier when you change at Newport. There are fewer platforms, so it’s more likely you won’t have to walk as far. Just make sure that both trains call at Newport, first.


If you’re travelling across Cardiff and both of your trains call at Radyr, you might prefer to change there. While platforms tend to be the same at Cardiff Central, this isn’t always guaranteed. It also gets you away from the hustle and bustle of the city!


Going to/from the likes of Fishguard, Milford Haven and Carmarthen? If you’re interchanging with the London train, it might be easier to change here.

You’ll need to change platforms but it’s a short walk and you might have more time to do it, too. Just make sure that the London train you’re after goes all the way to Swansea!

Port Talbot Parkway

This is another alternative to Swansea. The only difference is that everything going in the same direction uses the same platform!

What if changing trains goes wrong?

Everyone worries about catching their connecting train. Their first train might be late, or they might not know where to go. It could be both!

Don’t panic, though. If your train is late and you don’t make your connection, you can travel on the next train. If you have an Advance ticket, it’ll need to be operated by the same company. Sometimes, when there’s a lot of disruption, there might be ticket acceptance with other companies.

If you have an Super Off-Peak, Off-Peak or Anytime ticket, simply jump on the next train (unless the ticket is only valid on a certain company). If you’re not sure, just ask a member of staff before boarding.

Do you think you might miss the last train? Speak to a member of staff as soon as you can. If it’s because of a delay, they can arrange alternative transport to your destination.

Think you might need more time to change trains, or some help? If you’re elderly, disabled or have an invisible disability, then you can book assistance. Click here to find out more.

You can also find out more about your rights as a passenger in the National Rail Conditions of Travel.

I’m ready to go! What’s next?

We hope you found this guide to changing trains useful! If you’re ready to book your journey, you can simply visit the Railsmartr website.

Looking for some more help with changing trains in London? Click here.