This question is just for curiosity, rather than for anything practical.

Is there any railway station in the UK from which it is not possible to get to London with only 1 change? The obvious candidates for a station like this would be far north/west Wales (but the branch lines either meet the North Wales Coast line, or have direct trains to Birmingham), or Scotland, but I can't see any lines which don't offer a direct service to a mainline.


As pointed out in the comments, trains from the Isle of Wight (and also Northern Ireland) fall in to this category! It would be interesting if we limit it to mainland though.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 20:15

8 Answers 8


Here are a couple of candidates:

  • Whitby and other stations on the Esk Valley Line. The only mainline connection to this line is Middlesbrough, which currently has no direct service to London (it is planned to begin in 2021). See comment below.

  • Thornton Abbey and other stations on the Barton line. It looks like connections would be through Grimsby Town, which also has no direct London service as far as I can tell.

Incidentally, these are both in England.

  • 1
    Ironically, the Barton line shares part of its track with one of the busiest freight lines in the UK, which terminates at Immingham docks on the Humber. But it only operates as a local, rural passenger line.
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 4:23
  • 3
    How did you find these?
    – user4188
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 6:37
  • @chx: I looked over the map for lines that seemed poorly connected. I looked up the stations and lines on Wikipedia to get a general idea of service, and then used the official route planner to confirm. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 13:32
  • 8
    Sorry to spoil the fun, but trains to/from Whitby run directly to Darlington. (On Sundays. In the summer. Last one this week...hurry!) Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 15:40

Firstly the undisputed ones:

  • Clitheroe to Hall i’ th’ Wood (excluding Blackburn)
  • Barton branch as previously mentioned
  • Baildon

Then there are Merseyrail stations from Cressington to Birkdale/Aughton Park/Fazakerley (excluding Moorfields and Liverpool Central). There are sometimes engineering works meaning that London trains run direct from Liverpool South Parkway.

Next there's the stations reachable from London with 1 change, but not To London

  • Kirkby to Pemberton (with an overnight stop), thanks to 1 train a day that runs from Buxton via Manchester Picadilly to Kirkby (additionally Wigan Walgate is only 100m from Wigan North Western)
  • Reddish South and Denton are reachable from Stockport (no overnight stop needed)

however all those stations meet your criteria as there is no way to get TO London from them with one change.

Finally stations that don't count:

  • The Wrexham Central to Bidston branch doesn't count thanks to 1 train a day from Wrexham General, although an overnight stop is required.
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog branch doesn't count as there are a handful of London trains that call at Llandudno Junction
  • Ashton-under-Lyne has a service to Leeds, and one from Preston, so doesn't count
  • I think all Glasgow services call at either Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street, the latter being served by the Calledonian sleeper, so they don't count, indeed I can't find a single service in Scotland that is more than 1 change from London thanks to the sleeper.
  • The Whitby - Great Ayton line has summer services to Darlington as previously mentioned (Nunthorpe to James Cook have regular services to Newcastle)
  • 2
    Baildon is wrong. There's a daily train from London King's Cross to Bradford Forster Square, and direct trains from Forster Square to Baildon. (Actually, you'd change at Shipley, rather than go into Bradford and back out again.) Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:01
  • 1
    Having looked at the timetables for the Caledonian Sleeper, I think I'd be inclined to add the lines which only use Glasgow Queen Street (rather than Central) to the category of "From London only" - the only portion of the sleeper which serves GLQ is that bound for Fort William; this only sets down southbound and picks up northbound, so it's not actually possible to travel to London from GLQ (sleeper.scot/timetables/london-fortwilliam). However, please let me know if I've missed anything!
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 22:52
  • Excellent find about the one service a day from Ashton-under-Lyne to Leeds (but no reverse service), and that there are several Preston to AHN services (an hourly Blackpool North to Huddersfield service), but the reverse hourly service goes to either Southport or Wigan Wallgate. There is also one service a week from AHN to Wigan North Western (leaves Huddersfield at 1715 on Saturdays)
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 23:10

Living in Liverpool, I can't believe I missed the obvious fact the Merseyrail Northern Line trains don't go through Liverpool Lime Street - they run from Hunts Cross to either Southport or Ormskirk via Liverpool Central (and so you have to do 1 stop on the Wirral Line or walk to Lime Street). No station on this line has a normal service to London. (However, Lime Street is currently undergoing major renovation, and so London trains are terminating at Liverpool South Parkway, meaning that London with 1 connection is possible for 3 weeks only.)


You're asking for stations within the UK.

For any station in Northern Ireland, you'd need to change from train to ferry and from ferry to train. On either side, (direct) trains do not connect all the way to the ferry terminal, so that means more than one change even to reach Belfast, and more than two to reach any other destination in Northern Ireland.

  • Yes - these were already discussed in the comments :) (also applies to trains on the Isle of Wight)
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 10:26
  • 2
    @ChrisW Indeed. I think your question would be more meaningful limited to Great Britain, as railways are organised on that level. Taking train+ferry to NI is as involved as to ROI, if not more involved.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 10:29
  • 1
    Yes, it's easier to get the 'train' to Dublin than to Belfast from most of England! Belfast seems to be a minimum of 4 changes, using 3 modes of transport: ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/timesandfares/BFC/London/…
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 10:30
  • 1
    @ChrisW Sure, it was discussed in the comments. But answers should be posted as answers, not comments. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 10:54

The West Highland Line is famously about as remote as you can get and have a direct train to London, but it qualifies one day a week - there is a night sleeper service to Fort William through Glasgow Queen Street, but it doesn't run on Saturday nights. Queen Street has no other direct connections to London so you'd have to make a short walk to Glasgow Central to change, and I'm guessing this would count as more than a simple change for your question.

More prosaically, trains on the Maryhill Line would also qualify - they only seem to serve Glasgow Queen Street.

  • Good find about the Maryhill Line! What's the direct London - West Highland service?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 11:16
  • @ChrisW One of the Caledonian Highland Sleeper's three portions goes to Fort William on the West Highland LIne. sleeper.scot
    – Muzer
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 11:19
  • Yes; and it's definitely worth trying as a journey! Two bits of the line have no sleeper service - between Oban and Crianlarich and between Mallaig and Fort William - but you can still get a direct train from there to Glasgow QS and so change to the sleeper any night except Saturday. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 11:24
  • 1
    Hmm, the London-Ft William sleepers do call at Glasgow Queen Street, but only for set-down (southbound) or pick-up (northbound) so the Maryhill line just barely qualifies. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 11:26
  • 1
    @CSM there's a single "normal" service from Inverness to London (& vice versa) each day. Takes about eight hours. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 21:27

I think the stations between Kirkby and Wigan Wallgate don't have one-change services to London.

ie Rainford, Upholland, Orrell and Pemberton.

Their services run between Kirkby and Blackburn, via Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria. There's no direct service from any of those stations to London, you can change at Wigan Wallgate for Wigan North Western or at Manchester Victoria for Manchester Piccadilly.

Stations from Wigan Wallgate to Manchester along that line also have a service to Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly (which originates at Southport) and you can change at Piccadilly for London.

I can't find any other line through Manchester Victoria that doesn't also have trains to Piccadilly, or have access to another station like Wigan North Western, Leeds, Brighouse, Bradford Interchange or Preston.

  • Manchester Victoria is a 20 minute walk from Manchester Picadilly. I don't think that's what OP had in mind.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 20:15
  • @JonathanReez Wallgate is a good deal shorter walk from North Western than Victoria from Piccadilly. NRE says 5 minutes, and that exaggerates the time and distance. But it's still an extra change. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 20:18
  • Yes but it's a change within the same city.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 20:24

Eskdale in Cumbria would possibly count here - from London you'd have go up the West Coast Mainline and then change to the Cumbrian Coast Line at either Carnforth or Carlisle then from there go to Ravenglass and change to the Ravenglass & Eskdale Line.

  • 3
    Hmm, the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravenglass_and_Eskdale_Railway is a Heritage Railway. Many heritage railways have no connection to the national network (e.g. Llangollen), I suspect even fewer have a connection to the national network where trains to London call. It's a good point and one I hadn't clarified in my question.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 12:07
  • 3
    @ChrisW which is one of the reasons I wasn't sure if it counted. Especially given the Ravenglass end could be argued not to even be technically the same station as the National Rail "Ravenglass" station - you have to walk across the car park to get to the Cumbrian Coast Line station from R&ER Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 12:13
  • The same thing happens at Kidderminster with the Severn Valley Railway. The OS map shows the 2 stations separately, even though they're only separated by a carpark!
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 12:26
  • 2
    I found a handful of similar examples. While not stated explicitly in the question I assumed that the non-London end of the journey should be at a station that shows up on National Rail's journey planner Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 20:54
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    There's plenty of heritage railways that are miles away from any National Rail station. Maybe the furthest away is Whitrope Siding. about 35km from any other railway.
    – vclaw
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 23:08

Marlow in Buckinghamshire can only be reached via Bourne End, which can only be reached via Maidenhead - 2 changes from London Paddington.

I suspect this could be the nearest, about 30 miles away and less than 1 hour total journey time from London Paddington.

  • Hmm - according to current timetables you can go from Marlow to Maidenhead direct, and then change to Paddington: traintimes.org.uk/marlow/pad - is there something I'm misunderstanding about your answer?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 20:13
  • Yes, Marlow-Maidenhead direct services have been a thing for decades. In peak they only run to Bourne End. In years past Bourne End used to have a direct service to Paddington, but with electrification I think that's gone now.
    – user497484
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 18:33

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