Edinburgh trains: LNER to cut Edinburgh-London journey times by half an hour

The journey time will be as quick ‘as if you had been travelling by air’.
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Rail journeys between Edinburgh and London are set to be cut to around four hours from December, operator LNER has said.

The long-awaited move will accelerate the shift from plane to train, making journeys by train as fast ‘door-to-door' as flights between the Capital cities.

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Faster-accelerating Azuma trains introduced in 2019 will help cut journey times, together with major upgrades of the 400-mile route, as the final part of plans announced more than a decade ago. The four-hour journeys were originally scheduled to start in 2019 but were delayed by the work being completed and then the Covid pandemic.

An LNER train at Waverley Station 
Photo by Ken Jack/Getty ImagesAn LNER train at Waverley Station 
Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images
An LNER train at Waverley Station Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images

If approved, one of the two trains an hour between Edinburgh and London would take 4 hours, 5 minutes northbound and 4 hours, 8 minutes southbound, stopping only in Newcastle and York.

LNER said that compared to the current average of 4 hours, 30 minutes, with some trains taking 4 hours, 18 minutes and the southbound 5.40am Flying Scotsman completing the journey in 4 hours, stopping only in Newcastle. The new limited-stop services will be possible with the introduction of a new hourly Newcastle- London service to serve other stations - which LNER said would provide extra seats for Edinburgh-London passengers and more lower fares.

A final decision to speed up the east coast main line is awaited from the UK Government, which would reduce some trips between Waverley and Kings Cross by nearly half an hour.

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LNER told the Scotland on Sunday that the faster journeys coupled with increased public awareness of the need to cut emissions could see trains take 60 per cent or more of the railair market between the capital cities.

Managing director David Horne said: "What we're hoping to do, come December, is launch the new east coast timetable, which will give you, on Edinburgh-London, an hourly service taking just over four hours, with two stops en route. It's not been announced because there is a final decision to be taken by the Department for Transport (DfT).

"There's still some work taking place by Network Rail and the [rail] industry to make sure the precise timings of freight trains can still be accommodated. When we launch the service, there is going to be more capacity on Edinburgh-London services generated by transferring intermediate journeys off the Edinburgh trains. If you're in Edinburgh, you're now going to have an hourly fast service which will be quicker, or at least as quick, door-to-door, as if you had been travelling by air."

Mr Horne said it meant LNER could be bolder than the previous target of winning 50 per cent of the rail-air market on the route. He said: "Because of the progress we have made coming out of the pandemic, and knowing that sustainability is a factor that is driving demand to trains, I think we can be more bullish than that and say we ought to be able to get 55-60 per cent or even more onto rail."

The DfT said the timetable plans were "for LNER and not the department at the moment".

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