GWR train from London to Bath
 

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London to Bath from 20.40...

A Great Western high-speed train links London & Bath every 30 minutes through the day, 106 miles in around 1h22, city centre to city centre at up to 125 mph.  This page helps you buy the cheapest tickets and get the most from the journey.

COVID-19 update:  Trains are running with a few service reductions.  Masks must be worn on all public transport in Scotland & Wales and on Transport for London Underground, Overground & buses in London.  Masks are now optional but recommended on National Rail trains in England.  Last updated 8 August 2021.

small bullet point  Train times

small bullet point  How much does it cost?

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  What are the trains like?

small bullet point  London Paddington station

small bullet point  What to see on the journey

 

small bullet point  Travel tips, WiFi, luggage...

small bullet point  The Roman Baths

small bullet point  Royal Crescent

small bullet point  Bath's forgotten station

small bullet point  Watch the London-Bath video

Train times...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

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What are the trains like?

GWR introduced its new class 800 & 802 trains in 2017-2020, replacing InterCity 125 trains from the late 1970s.  Built by Hitachi, the trains are hybrids so can run on electric power from overhead wires, or on electricity generated by their own own underfloor diesel engines.  At the time I write this, trains leave London under electric power and switch to diesel just before Chippenham.

A GWR class 800 train at London Paddington

A GWR train from to Bath at London Paddington platform 1...

Standard class & luggage rack on GWR train to Bath   2nd class seats on GWR class 800 train to Bath

Standard class, showing luggage rack.  Larger photo.

 

Standard class seats on a GWR train.  Larger photo.

First class seats on a GWR train from London to Bath   Complimentary tea & coffee in first class

First class seats on a GWR train.  Larger photo.

 

Complimentary tea & coffee in first class.

Bike & luggage space on a train from London to Bath   GWR train seat reservation display   Power sockets on a train from London to Bath

Storage area for bikes & large luggage.  Larger photo.

 

An electronic display shows which seats are reserved (red) and which are free (green).

 

Power sockets at all seats...

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London Paddington...

Paddington is the London terminus for trains heading west to Devon, Cornwall, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff & Swansea.  There's been a station here since 1838, but the current building and trainshed date from 1854.  You can find a plan of the station at www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations, enter PAD.

London Paddington station exterior   London Paddington station entrance

On Praed Street, Hilton's London Paddington Hotel stands in front of the station.  Opened in 1854 by Prince Albert, it was formerly the GWR-owned Great Western Royal Hotel.

A pedestrian roadway leads from Praed Street onto the station concourse, it's to the right of the hotel.  If you arrive by Underground, you'll emerge straight onto the concourse.

The station concourse at London Paddington

The buffers have been moved back from their original position, to create a larger concourse.  Access to/from the platforms is though automatic ticket gates, so have your ticket handy.  You can just about see the row of ticket gates in the background, in front of the platforms.

Platforms at London Paddington

Brunel's magnificent arched roofs at Paddington station, showing platforms 1-5.

   

Paddington Bear:  Say hello to Paddington Bear a little way along platform 1, the children's book character created by author Michael Bond in 1958.  Paddington Bear comes from Darkest Peru, he was found at Paddington station by the Brown family, wearing a luggage label which said "Please look after this bear".  More information.

The discovery of Penicillin:  If you wander a mere 100m along Praed Street to St Mary's hospital, you can see where history was made.  More information.

First class lounge...

If you have a first class ticket you can use the GWR First Class Lounge on platform 1.  Enter the lounge and show your ticket to the staff at the reception desk.  The main part of the lounge is a large modern room with easy chairs, tables, workstations with charging points for laptops & mobiles, and televisions showing BBC news.  There is complimentary tea, coffee, water, juice, biscuits, sandwiches and free WiFi.

It's open 06:00-23:30 Monday-Friday, 06:00-21:00 Saturday, 10:00-23:30 Sundays & holidays.

Queen Victoria's waiting room:  There's an older, nicer part of the lounge.  After the reception desk, instead of turning left into the modern lounge, walk on into a quiet annexe with leather armchairs.  This was Queen Victoria's waiting room, beautifully restored and made part of the first class lounge.  I recommend getting some drinks and snacks from the modern part and sitting in this quieter part.  If it was good enough for Queen Victoria....  You may find this part roped off after 21:00.

Entrance to the GWR 1st class lounge at London Paddington

Entrance to the GWR first class lounge on platform 1.  Note the impressive war memorial a little further on...

Sleeper lounge at London Paddington - modern part   Sleeper lounge at London Paddington - Queen Victoria's waiting room

The modern part of the lounge.  Larger photo.

 

Queen Victoria's former waiting room.  Larger photo.

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What to see between London & Bath...

Paddington station (0 miles):  As you board, take a moment to admire Isambard Kingdom Brunel's magnificent station roof, dating from 1854.  Make sure you've paid your respects to Paddington Bear on platform 1!  You'll be travelling over the celebrated Great Western Railway  (GWR), engineered by Brunel and opened in 1838.  Incidentally, the current train operator is called GWR, but it isn't directly descended from the original company, simply a modern branding that respects the heritage.

A train for Bath boarding at London Paddington

Old Oak Common (3 miles):  A few minutes after leaving Paddington, the train passes through Old Oak Common.  The old GWR's main London depot was here on the right, today you'll see a depot for Crossrail trains on the right and North Pole depot on the left.  North Pole was originally Eurostar's main depot (when Eurostars ran out of Waterloo), it's now the depot where GWR maintains their class 800 & 802 trains including the train you are on.

Slough (18 miles):  The train speeds non-stop through Slough, 18 miles from London.  The branch line train to Windsor leaves from here.  Slough was the setting for the UK version of the TV series The Office.

Crossing the Thames at Maidenhead (23 miles):  Between Taplow & Maidenhead (both passed through non-stop), the train crosses the river Thames on a 256' (78m) long bridge.  Designed by Brunel and built in 1838, the bridge features a daringly flat brick arch, so controversially flat when it was built that Brunel's horrified critics claimed it was unsafe.  Brunel seems to have been right, his bridge is still carrying mainline trains at up to 125mph over 180 years later!  The bridge features in a famous painting by J. M. W. Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed More information about the bridge.  Below: Crossing the Thames on Maidenhead bridge.

The train to Bath crosses the River Thames

Reading (35 miles):  The train stops at Reading, a large railway junction and major town in its own right.  More people now commute into Reading than commute from it to London.  T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) famously lost the first draft of his book, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in the refreshment rooms at Reading station in December 1919.

Didcot Parkway (53 miles):  Most London-Bath trains call at Didcot Parkway.  The GWR line to Oxford branches off here to the right, in fact it branches off twice, once immediately before the station and again just afterwards for trains that need to stop at Didcot.  A GWR steam locomotive depot used to occupy the area between the two lines, and this has now become Didcot Railway Centre, www.didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk.  Look to your right and you may glimpse steam locomotives in steam (look carefully at the photo below).  The huge water tower bears the legend Didcot Railway Centre.

Didcot Parkway station

The Uffington White Horse (approx 85 miles):  If you look to your left half way between Didcot & Swindon, you'll see a ridge of hills to the south.  If you look carefully you can make out the famous Bronze Age Uffington White Horse.  The outline of the horse is created with trenches filled with chalk to a surprising depth, some of the material has been excavated and dated to 1380-550 BC.  See the photo below - the horse is easier to spot when the chalk has been freshly cleared and if you know what you are looking for.  More information about the Uffington White Horse.

Uffington White Horse seen from a train from London to Bath

Swindon (77 miles):  Most trains call at Swindon.  The GWR's main works were situated here from 1843 until they closed in 1986, and most of the GWR's steam locomotives were built here.  The works transformed Swindon from a small village into the large town you see today.  The old works buildings are on the right just after leaving Swindon station.  In the early days of the GWR, Swindon was notorious as all trains were required to stop here for 45 minutes so passengers could use the refreshment rooms, under a contract between the GWR and the owner of the buffet.  The GWR spent some time digging itself out of that contract!  More information about Swindon works.

Chippenham (93 miles):  The train switches from electric to diesel power just before calling at Chippenham, where the overhead electric wires currently finish.  You'll feel the diesels under the floor as the train accelerates away from Chippenham station.

Box Tunnel (approx 100 miles):  Box Tunnel is the most significant engineering feat on Brunel's Great Western Railway, and the only significant tunnel between London & Bath.  It was the longest railway tunnel in the world when it opened in 1841, 1.8 miles (2.95 km) long, and today both east & west portals are Grade II listed.  It is said that Brunel aligned Box Tunnel so that the rising sun would always shine directly through it from end to end on his birthday every year.  It's a great story and entirely in keeping with Brunel's character, but sadly the theory has recently been disproved.  More information about Box Tunnel.

Bath Spa station (106 miles):  You arrive at Bath Spa station, now Bath's only station.  Opened in 1840 as plain Bath, it was renamed Bath Spa in 1949 to distinguish it from the Midland Railway's now-closed Bath Green Park station, which had itself been plain Bath until 1951.  The station is a Grade II listed building.  More information about Bath Spa station.  Bath Spa station only has 2 platforms.  You arrive on platform 1 on the south side of the station, you use the pedestrian subway under the tracks to reach the exit onto the street.  When returning to London, your train will go from platform 2, on the side of the station closest to the town and main station entrance.

Bath Spa station platforms
Bath Spa station

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Travel tips...

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Roman baths

The Roman Baths are the highlight of a visit to Bath.  The bath and temple complex of Aquae Sulis was a major centre in Roman Britain, built over a natural hot spring.  The baths were in use from around 60 AD until the end of Roman rule in the 5th century AD, but they fell into ruins soon afterwards.  The baths were excavated in the 19th century, and it was then that the above-ground buildings were added.  For tickets & information, see www.romanbaths.co.uk See location map.

Roman Baths, Bath

The Great Bath, at the centre of the complex.

Head of Sulis Minerva, Roman Baths   Entrance to the Roman Baths, Bath

Head of Sulis Minerva...

 

Entrance to the Roman Baths.

Royal Crescent...

The highlight of Georgian Bath, the famous Royal Crescent is a series 30 terraced houses built between 1767 & 1774.  It's Grade I listed and one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in Britain.  More information about the Royal Crescent See location map.  If you're in the money, you can stay here as two of the former townhouses in the Crescent have been turned into the 5-star Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.

Bath's famous Royal Crescent

Bath's forgotten station...

Bath now only has one railway station, but it used to have two.  The Midland Railway built a pretty Georgian-style terminus in 1870, named Bath Queen Square for most of its life, renamed Bath Green Park in 1951.  It closed to passengers in 1966, although freight used the station until 1971.  The station had its own local Midland Railway route into Bristol, and for many years the famous Pines Express called here on its way from Manchester to Bournemouth via the slow and rural Somerset & Dorset Railway, which also closed in 1966.  The trainshed is now used as a market place and supermarket car park.  The booking hall and forecourt are now a brasserie, home of the Bath Pizza Co.  A good place for a beer and/or pizza, see www.greenparkbrasserie.com More information about the old station See location map.

Bath Green Park station, now a brasserie
Inside the old Bath Green Park station   Bath Pizza Co. at Bath Green Park station

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Watch the video...


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