5 Interesting Facts About UK Train Stations

speeding train

Written by our Web Team

9 min read | 24 May 2024

No matter the distance travelled, every rail journey starts and ends at a train station. Whether you’re hopping over to the next town or taking the longest train ride in the UK

From the ornate Victorian stations to the biggest train station in the UK, each journey is a potential time capsule or interesting hotspot for travellers.

In 1825, the Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened, becoming the first railway in the world to use steam locomotives. For the first time, a steam train was not only carrying goods but also passengers. Less than 200 years later, there are now over 2,500 train stations across the United Kingdom.

Throughout this article, we will continue to explore some interesting facts about trains. We’ll talk about the biggest, the oldest, and the overall busiest train station in the UK.

Which UK train station has the most platforms?

A photo of the arch above the entrance to Waterloo Station in London, and a clock showing the time as 2:20.

There are more than 330 train stations in London. This allows millions of passengers to travel with ease, both across the city and cross country. 

Of all the stations in London, Waterloo is the largest not only in London but in the United Kingdom. With a total of 24, Waterloo has the most platforms of any train station in the UK.

The station opened in 1848 and was expanded in 1853. Since then, it has closed once more for remodelling. Waterloo Station was reopened in 1922 by Her Majesty Queen Mary.

Above the station's entrance is the Victory Arch. The Arch was designed by the architect, John Robb Scott, to commemorate the 585 railway workers who died during World War 1.

Visitors may also notice a plaque commemorating those who worked for the railway and gave their lives during World War 2.

About Waterloo Station

Address: Waterloo Rd, London, SE1 8SW

Nearest Avanti station: London Euston

How to reach this station: Travelling from London Euston, take the Northern Underground line to Waterloo. From there, it’s just a short walk to Mepham Street. (Approximately a 15-minute journey)

Nearby places to visit: 

  • London Eye

  • Jubilee Gardens

  • Florence Nightingale Museum

  • The London Dungeon

  • Sea Life London Aquarium

What is the biggest train station in the UK?

A wide shot of Waverley Station during sunset as the busy London traffic goes by.

Waterloo is the biggest train station in the UK, as shown by the amount of platforms it features. However, outside of Waterloo, Edinburgh Waverley Station is currently the biggest train station in the UK. 

At 25 acres and with 20 platforms, this is one of two stations which serve Edinburgh city. As you step off the train, no doubt you’ll be excited to explore all that the city has to offer. To give you an idea of where to start, we’ve put together a three-day plan of things to do in Edinburgh.

Initially, Waverley was made up of three different stations: North Bridge, General, and Canal Street. However, in the 1850s, they collectively became known as Waverley, after a 19th-century novel of the same name, written by Walter Scott.

In 1868, the three stations were replaced by what is now Edinburgh Waverley Station. This resulted in an increase in the number of people travelling to the area.

In the late 1890s, the station was rebuilt to keep up with new demand for trains travelling up from London. However, you can still see evidence of the building's impressive Victorian design.

About Waverly Station

Address: Edinburgh Station, Princes Street, Edinburgh, Lothian, EH1 1BB

Nearest Avanti station: Edinburgh Station

How to reach this station: Take one of our Pendolino and Super Voyager Trains on lines A or F to reach Edinburgh Waverley.

Nearby places to visit: 

  • The Scottish National Gallery

  • Edinburgh Castle

  • Princes Street Gardens

  • Arthur’s Seat

What’s the longest train station in the UK?

As a fun side note for which train station is the biggest, the longest train station is Old Oak Common. Currently being built in London is the new Old Oak Common train station. This new construction will have an 850m long station box and house both conventional and high-speed platforms. 

Once complete, Old Oak Common will be the largest train station in the UK. It is estimated it will be capable of transporting 250,000 daily passengers.

Where's the oldest train station in the UK?

A wide shot of Liverpool Street Station showing crowds of people waking to and fro.
Liverpool Road Station is recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records as being the oldest railway station in the world. It began operating in 1830, operating for nearly 150 years before closing in 1975.

However, the oldest active train station in the UK is Broad Green, Liverpool. This station was built on the Liverpool & Manchester line, also known as the world’s first passenger railway. While it was one of the last on the line to be built, the others closed when expansions into the town took place.

Over the years, many famous names have taken this stop on their travels. The most prominent of all was Prince Arthur, son of Queen Victoria.

About Broad Green Station

Address: Broad Green Station, Bowring Park Road, Broad Green, Merseyside, L14 3NG

Nearest Avanti station: Liverpool Lime Street Station

How to reach this station: Take the Wigan North Western train heading northbound and arrive at Broad Green Station. (From 24 minute journey)

Nearby places to visit:

  • Childwall Woods

  • Black Wood

  • Croxteth Park Farm

Which is the busiest train station in the UK?

A photo of Waterloo Station during the day showing a lot of passengers walking to platforms.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the busiest train stations in the UK are in London. Reflective of its size, Waterloo Station is the busiest railway station. 

In just one year, over 41 million railway passengers entered and exited the station. However, the second busiest is London Victoria, with over 36 million travellers over the same period.

Both stations are in prime locations for commuters and tourists. As a result, it is recommended to travel at off-peak times when heading through London. This may help reduce the chances of travelling during rush hour.

Like Waterloo Station, London Victoria has also played a large role in London's history. The station carried troops to and from France during the First World War. It also became the first railway to connect to an airport, in this case, Gatwick. 

However, one of the most historical moments in Victoria Station was the return of the Unknown Warrior. The unidentified British soldier was brought home in 1920 to honour the fallen of World War One.

Out of the top 10 busiest train stations in the UK, only two are outside of London. Eighth in the list is Birmingham New Street, with Manchester Piccadilly coming in tenth.

About London Victoria Station

Address: London Victoria Station, Victoria Street, London, Greater London, SW1V 1JU

Nearest Avanti station: London Euston

How to reach this station: Travelling from London Euston, take the Victoria Underground line to Victoria. From there, it’s just a short walk to Victoria Station. (Approximately a 20-minute journey)

Nearby places to visit: 

  • Victoria Place Shopping Centre

  • Buckingham Palace

  • Westminster Cathedral

  • The Green Park

  • St. James’s Park

About Birmingham New Street Station

Address: Birmingham New Street Station, Station Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B2 4QA

Nearest Avanti station: Birmingham New Street Station

How to reach this station: Take one of our Pendolino or Super Voyager Trains on lines A, B, and C to reach Birmingham New Street Station.

Nearby places to visit: 

  • Bullring Shopping Centre

  • National Trust Back to Backs

  • The O2 Academy

Which is the UK's best train station?

A wide angle shot of Waverley Station in Edinburgh, showing the North Bridge with the main building towering over it.

Choosing the best train station is a difficult task, as it depends on individual needs and preferences. While some passengers enjoy the picturesque stops in the countryside, others prefer convenience.

However, a study conducted by Omio has found a great way to rank stations based on four influencing factors. They considered:

  • If the trains were on average on time or late

  • How many shops, restaurants, pharmacies, and bars were nearby

  • The available amenities for passengers

  • The distance to the city centre

Based on these criteria, the results showed that the best station was Edinburgh Waverley, closely followed by Glasgow Central. Interestingly, London Waterloo was ninth, despite scoring high for train arrival times.

Both Waverley and Glasgow Central are a short distance from their respective city centres and are surrounded by shops. 

They also offer passengers a variety of amenities, such as parking, Wi-Fi, wheelchair access, and toilet facilities. In addition, around 80% of their trains arrive on time. This means journeys from these stations are more likely to be more comfortable, convenient, and with punctual trains.

While Waverley currently holds the number one spot, it’s possible that Glasgow Central could take the number one spot soon. This is because over the next year, Glasgow will be spending over £5 million to enhance passengers' experience.

The refurbishment will include improvements such as:

  • A new multi-faith room

  • More retail and commercial options

  • A staircase-free Station Reception

If you enjoy the journey as much as the destination, a train from London Euston to Glasgow Central could be right up your street. Take in the scenery as you pass through areas such as Rugby and the Lake District.

About Glasgow Central Station

Address: Glasgow Central Station, Gordon Street, Glasgow, Strathclyde, G1 3SL

Nearest Avanti station: Glasgow Central Station

How to reach this station: Take one of our Pendolino or Super Voyager Trains on lines A and F to reach Glasgow Central Station.

Nearby places to visit: 

  • St Andrew’s Cathedral

  • St Enoch Shopping Centre

  • Glasgow Green

Travel through the UK’s train stations with Avanti

Two women stand beneath a train station timetable, one of whom is pointing at a screen.

The UK’s train stations carry a history that many of us may not notice on a daily basis. While we travel long distances for tourism, we often miss the key roles they’ve played in helping during wartime as well as the development of the economy.

Travelling with Avanti West Coast, we encourage passengers to not only explore these destinations, but the stations that get them there. Through doing this, you can learn more about the decades gone by that tell you more about the nearby community’s roots and history.

To ensure you get the most out of your journey, it’s always best to plan ahead of time. Book your ticket in advance to prevent last-minute panic and make a note of your stops and train times. 

It’s also important to stay aware of your surroundings, especially during peak times in busy stations. Listening out for announcements will help you to keep up to date with any changes to your route. 

You can also download our app to amend your journey, track your train, book your ticket, or reserve a seat, as well as learn travel information on the go.

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To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

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