I will be travelling from Cabridge, UK to London City Airport to catch a plane. Officially, the train ride takes ~1h45 (Cambridge-Kings Cross, then change onto the DLR).

How reliable is that estimation, i.e. should I plan half an hour extra (or more) in case there are delays? Also, how important is it to buy a ticket early - do I risk not getting a ticket at the counter when I want to leave around 5pm?

  • 1h45? Isn't there an express 45 min train to Euston? – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '13 at 7:15
  • You can always get a ticket, you just might have to stand (on the train) – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '13 at 7:15
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    @MarkMayo There's a 50 minute express from Cambridge to King's Cross. From there, I suppose the route would be the Tube and then DLR to London City, which would be another 50 minutes according to National Rail. – waiwai933 Aug 16 '13 at 7:41
  • Ah, that's the one I was thinking of :/ – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '13 at 7:43
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    Yep, the train will take you to Kings Cross, but the DLR is like the tube but raised rail - it's definitely a separate link. – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '13 at 8:38

London City Airport doesn't have a railway station. It is on the Docklands Light Railway in Zone 3, on the Woolwich Arsenal branch.

Starting from Cambridge, you can buy a through ticket. You'll want either a single or a return, to London Zone 3. If you're coming back, you'll need to buy a return in Cambridge, as there are no National Rail ticket facilities at London City Airport. If you were flying into City and going to Cambridge, you'd have to buy a Zone 3 to Zone 1 ticket from the TFL ticket machines there (or use Oyster), then buy a train ticket at Kings Cross. Coming from Cambridge, you can buy a through ticket including tube+DLR.

Using a National Rail powered journey planner for the route (tweak the day as needed), we see that the predicted time is about 1 hour 45. However, the tube+DLR times from National Rail can be a bit vague. What you'd really need to do is use the TFL journey planner to work back to find your required arrival time into Kings Cross, then pick a train based on that.

TFL seem to suggest it'll take about 35 - 40 minutes travel time from Kings Cross to London City Airport by Tube (Northern Line to Bank) then DLR (direct Woolwich Arsenal service). However, that's platform to platform, so add an extra 10 minutes at Kings Cross to get from your train onto the underground, and then 3-5 minutes for the walk from the DLR station to checkin. Yup, that's right - with a brisk walk you can be at the checkin desks in 3 minutes from when the DLR pulls in!

Once you're at LCY, there is free wifi, a few cafes before security, and a few more after, so you should be fine if you get there early.

As for buying your ticket, it might be simplest to buy it online in advance. When you get to the station, you'd then just need to pop in your credit card, type in the booking code, collect your tickets and go. That's likely to be simpler than trying to work out how to get the ticket machine to sell a ticket to London Zone 3, which isn't always obvious... Assuming you don't have a railcard, it's £25.20 for an anytime single ticket (valid on all trains any time of the day), or £39.90 for an Off Peak Return (not during rush hours, out and back within a month), or £50.40 for an Anytime Return (any trains, return in a month)

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  • Thanks for the helpful answer. If I buy the ticket online in advance, will I get the through ticket to Cambridge and back from the machine? – Jonas Aug 16 '13 at 8:48
  • You'd buy a single / return (as required) ticket from Cambridge to Zone U123* London online, then collect at the ticket machine at the station in Cambridge. It'll print one ticket for a single, two for a return, and they'll be valid on the train to Kings Cross then onwards on the Tube and the DLR – Gagravarr Aug 16 '13 at 8:50
  • As I'm flying into LCY and travel to Cambridge the night before, I'll have to pick up the ticket at LCY. That should work, right? – Jonas Aug 16 '13 at 9:02
  • Nope, no national rail ticket office there, so you can't collect tickets. You'll have to buy a zone 3 to zone 1 single ticket from the TFL ticket machine at LCY or use Oyster, then buy/collect a ticket at Kings Cross – Gagravarr Aug 16 '13 at 9:36
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    Or better for the search of route use travelline which does rail, Tfl and coach routes – mmmmmm Aug 16 '13 at 16:24

There is no train station at LCY, the trip would involve taking the docklands light rail (DLR). I am not sure if there is a combined train/DLR ticket. If not you also need time to buy a DLR ticket.

I once took the wrong DLR line, although the lines are well indicated, but it then added quite some weight to the stress factor. Personally I would add at least an hour to your estimate.

If you arrive in time at LCY, don't worry about being bored. There is free internet and LCY is realy fun to spent time.

When driving fits the equation, going by airport shuttle might be a convenient option. When I lived in Cambridge I picked up friends from LCY on multiple occations. LCY is quite conveniently located even during rush hours it only takes a bit over an hour to get there. If I remember correctly, a prebooked airport taxi was between 60 and 80 £

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  • There is a combined ticket (see my edit to the OP). Also, I don't worry so much about being bored, but rather about getting a maximum amount of work done in Cambridge. Any tips on not taking the wrong DLR line? – Jonas Aug 16 '13 at 8:13
  • I took the wrong direction at canning town. It was really stupid, because as said it was all well indicated. You need to know the final stop of the line passing through LCY, that is all. – user141 Aug 16 '13 at 8:31
  • Indeed, I've done that before too. You just have to pay attention to which train you're on (it's at the front and on signs as they come in to the station) and then keep an eye on the map. Happens ALL the time on the District line at Earl's Court too. – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '13 at 8:39
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    I know now how easy it is to take the wrong DLR line. Thanks to your answer I was prepared, though. Thanks! – Jonas Aug 24 '13 at 18:39

Get the 010 Bus from Parkside to Bow Church DLR, then the DLR to LCY. Much cheaper and easier!

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    Not sure that I follow, as I've rarely been to London. Can you please elaborate a bit more? Is Parkside a train station? Does this work both ways (I arrive at LCY late on the day before)? Also, fast and reliable is much more important to me than cheap, although easy is appreciated. – Jonas Aug 16 '13 at 14:15
  • Hi Sorry, yes I was being rather vague. Parkside is on the corner of Parkers Piece here on google maps where the National Express buses leave from. – Andrew Aug 16 '13 at 14:21
  • There is indeed a street called Parkside in Cambridge, with a bus 010 leaving from bay 16 of some bus stop. But it would indeed be a nicer with some more details. – Vince Aug 16 '13 at 14:24
  • Hi Sorry, yes I was being rather vague. Parkside is on the corner of Parkers Piece here on google maps where the National Express buses leave from. The 010 service leaves roughly every hour and gets to right outside Bow Church DLR Station where you can connect straight to LCY. – Andrew Aug 16 '13 at 14:28
  • @Andrew: Ok, so you suggest that instead of the train, I take the bus? Is that faster than the train? Also, please edit your answer with your helpful additional information. – Jonas Aug 19 '13 at 8:50

Regarding tickets I would try to get the ticket in advance. Cambridge station has very little "circulation space" outside the ticket barriers and in rush hour it tends to get packed with people.

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    Care to expand a little more on your answer ? – blackbird Nov 11 '15 at 3:20
  • That's much less true since the redeveloped ticket hall opened recently. – MadHatter May 3 '18 at 6:06

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