I am leaving Fitzwilliam College of Cambridge University on Dec. 12, 5 pm, to Heathrow T5, in order to catch a flight departing at 9 pm.

What is the fastest and most reliable transportation? Taxi?

  • Check google maps; they tend to be reliable
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Nov 28, 2018 at 13:26
  • Yes, but. I am worrying on traffic conditions, and train punctual issue.
    – Ross Tang
    Nov 28, 2018 at 13:27
  • 1
    @Willeke Taxis to London airports from Cambridge are usually fixed price. (They charge extra in the other direction if the plane is delayed.) Nov 28, 2018 at 13:53
  • 3
    I suspect helicopter would be the fastest. Not sure how reliable it is. And probably not affordable for most people.
    – AndyT
    Nov 28, 2018 at 15:01
  • 1
    I am thankful for every comment. I depart at Fitzwilliam College. What do you suggest?
    – Ross Tang
    Nov 28, 2018 at 15:02

3 Answers 3


I would not recommend the coach service, since, at that time of day, a coach can easily take 30–45 minutes just to get out of Cambridge (i.e.: before reaching the motorway).

A taxi all the way to the airport is an option, and would somewhat avoid the worst of the traffic in Cambridge (since Fitzwilliam is on the same side of Cambridge as the motorway). But, based on my own experience driving on the motorways themselves (both M11 and M25), they are likely to be congested (whenever I have driven the section of the M25 between Watford and Heathrow, there have been lower speed limits in place), so I suspect that a taxi would not be fastest.

So, your best bet is to travel by train, although getting to the principal railway station in Cambridge (CBG) would, unfortunately, entail traversing the city centre (as would getting to the coach station, by the way).

To get from Fitzwilliam College to the principal railway station in Cambridge (CBG), the options, from fastest to slowest, are:

  • bicycle (if you can carry the luggage?!?);
  • taxi (expensive, but can get you through parts of the city centre where normal cars and minicabs cannot go);
  • minicab (cheaper than a taxi, but will have probably to go via the Fen Causeway and get stuck in traffic);
  • bus (at that time of day, there are regular buses towards the city centre from both Huntingdon Road and Madingley Road — I think there is a route on Madingley Road that goes directly to the railway station, whilst the routes on Huntingdon Road go only as far as the coach station)

    Once you are at Cambridge railway station (CBG), the fastest option is usually:

    1. TRAIN Cambridge (CBG) --> London Kings Cross (KGX)
      [do not get a train to Brighton via London St Pancras, since those trains stop at a lot of stations, and get overtaken by the ones to Kings Cross]
    2. LONDON UNDERGROUND Kings Cross St Pancras --> Paddington
      [i.e.: using EITHER Circle OR Hammersmith & City line westbound — they depart from the same platform, so just get the first train... if you find yourself on a Metropolitan line train, simply disembark at Euston Square or Great Portland Street, and wait on the platform for the next train of the correct line]
    3. TRAIN London Paddington --> Heathrow Airport
      [Heathrow Express is fastest, but hideously expensive; if time, use the slower TfL rail service]

    Alternative (cheaper, and with fewer interchanges, which may be an advantage if you have lots of luggage, but slower):

    1. as above
    2. LONDON UNDERGROUND Kings Cross St Pancras --> Heathrow Airport
      [i.e.: using the Piccadilly line... if you find yourself on a train to Uxbridge or Rayners Lane, simply disembark at or before Acton Town, and wait on the platform for the next train to Heathrow airport]
  • 2
    • I am very very grateful for so many useful suggestion. Let's do some research, and share my findings later.
      – Ross Tang
      Nov 29, 2018 at 2:52
    • Note that these suggestions according to the travelline planner take about 3 hours I would suggest you should leave earlier to meet check in time and allow for delays
      – mmmmmm
      Nov 29, 2018 at 13:05

    Firstly, note that the University of Cambridge is split over several sites across the city - it'll be important while planning your journey to ensure that you specify which faculty/college you'll be travelling from - in this case Fitzwilliam college.

    There are three main potential routes, bus, taxi and train.

    The main railway station is some way out of town, on the opposite side to Fitzwilliam College, and at that time of the evening it will not be a quick journey to get there by bus, foot or taxi. If you manage to get the train at 17:43, you can be at Terminal 5 by 19:50 with a change from the train to the Piccadily line tube at Kings Cross (travel via the Heathrow Express may shave a few minutes off the time, but not much). There are frequent trains every 10 minutes or so at that time of day to London, so the risk of a long delay is low, but you are cutting it fine to check in for a 21:00 flight.

    There is a National Express bus at 17:30, that gets to the airport at 20:30. This looks like it would be too late to rely on, but gives an idea of the driving time that they can regularly schedule.

    A taxi is almost certainly faster than the bus, due to flexibility over route, and not having to visit the intermediate stops (Stansted and other Heathrow terminals). It can also start as soon as you're ready, rather than waiting for the schedule. Google Maps predicts a time of 1:20 to 2:00 based on travel at 17:00 on a Wednesday. This fits with my limited experience.

    • Fitzwilliam College
      – Ross Tang
      Nov 28, 2018 at 15:06
    • On the Heathrow Express you should be able to make it by 19:32 on the 19:10 from Paddington, possibly even earlier if you make a quick getaway at King's Cross and manage to catch the 18:55 from Paddington. I agree that's still cutting it fine.
      – Muzer
      Nov 28, 2018 at 18:21
    • (I've asked another friend and he agrees catching the 18:55 from Paddington should be possible if you REALLY know what you're doing, and nothing is running late. So the 19:10 should be no problem).
      – Muzer
      Nov 28, 2018 at 18:47
    • Re "The railway station", there are now two. The other one is near the St John's Business Park, so it's still not very convenient for Fitz, but at least you can get there without going through the city centre. On the other hand, I don't think it has a very frequent service. Nov 28, 2018 at 19:25
    • @PeterTaylor All of the fast trains stop at Cambridge North.
      – MJeffryes
      Nov 29, 2018 at 10:26

    You've more choices. My son lives in the new NW Development, and I've looked at this issue for my own transport.

    The National Express website says that more runs are offered to LHR T2/T3 than to LHR T5, and the LHR website says a traveler can easily transfer from T2/T3 to T5 on free LHR shuttle tains.

    National Express lists these buses from Cambridge Parkside to LHR T2/T3 on December 12:

    enter image description here

    Even better (well, more direct but longer duration) for Fitzwilliam College, here are runs from the Madingley Park and Ride on the same date:

    enter image description here

    • Hi, unfortunately the OP stated that he is only leaving FitzWilliam College at 5pm, would the answer still stand?
      – B.Liu
      Nov 28, 2018 at 18:07
    • @B.Liu That's what he said, based on his research. I've given him more choices to make his flight at 9:00, including (in the first panel from National Express) a bus that leaves from Parkside later and arrives LHR earlier. The OP has choices. Nov 28, 2018 at 18:41
    • I see your point. I (and possibly some other) did assume the 5pm was an at least semi-hard constraint and asked the question in the previous comment accordingly.
      – B.Liu
      Nov 28, 2018 at 18:56
    • A particular comment on "a bus that leaves from Parkside later and arrives LHR earlier". If you are referring to the 17:30 coach, I believe that is an infeasible option as it only arrives at T2/3 at 19:55, and it takes at least 6 mins to take the rail transfer to T5, plus potentially up to 10m waiting time, plus walking. That would likely result in OP missing his flight if he got luggage to check-in, due to him missing the bag check cutoff. It doesn't invalidate your general answer based on your assumptions though.
      – B.Liu
      Nov 28, 2018 at 19:00
    • Fitz to Parkside in 30 minutes in rush hour might be a bit tight by any means other than bike. Nov 28, 2018 at 19:29

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