Visiting Birmingham NEC by Train

speeding train

Written by our Web Team

6 min read | 31 May 2024

Opened in 1976 and home to 18 exhibition halls, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre is a must-visit attraction. Over the last 40 years, it hosted legendary concerts such as Queen, Sir Elton John and Beyoncé. This makes the beloved NEC a haven for music lovers. 

If you’re travelling for a concert, it’s easy to get the train to NEC Birmingham. And with services running well into the night, you won’t have to leave the show early.

Even if you’re not a gig-goer, the NEC is an ideal pick for a day trip. See classic cars in style with the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show. If you’re a big holiday lover, you can enjoy the ultimate Christmas experience with the centre’s festive expo. With over 500 events per year, you’ll find something to please the whole family.

In this guide, there’s advice to help you find your way to this event hotspot from all over the UK. Read on for NEC Birmingham directions by rail, whether you’re coming from the city centre or further afield. Remember to book your ticket in advance to save on fares.

Why visit the NEC?

A large crowd at a concert raising their hands.

As the UK’s second-largest city, Birmingham needed an event space to match its cultural importance. Enter Birmingham NEC, a multi-purpose venue designed to tempt talent away from London’s music circuit. A huge success, the NEC has expanded several times to accommodate new events.

Now hosting everything from motor shows to pop culture expos, the NEC is one of the busiest convention centres in Europe. It’s an excellent choice for a day trip near the city, as it’s less than 20 minutes by train from Birmingham.

Make a full day of it by visiting the centre’s many restaurants and bars after your event. There’s also a casino and an 11-screen cinema for evening entertainment. Staying overnight nearby? Try the Santai Spa to unwind, or be adventurous with the extreme Bear Grylls adventure course.

If you’re planning a visit, the centre is open seven days a week for events with the following opening hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm

  • Saturday: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm

  • Sunday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Please check individual store opening times. Opening times may vary for each brand.

Except for the Bear Grylls experience, all Birmingham NEC’s spaces are indoors, which is ideal for when you don’t feel like being out in the cold.

You can also visit the NEC after enjoying a day out in Birmingham itself, as there are plenty of evening entertainment options all year round. Trains run well into the evening from the local stations.

Where is the NEC?

A view of Birmingham’s skyline from above on a bright day with clear skies. Locations visible in the picture include St Martin and the Bullring shopping centre.

Located east of the city centre, the NEC is accessible via rail travel from Birmingham. The exhibition centre is a popular choice for musicians and comedians thanks to its proximity to Birmingham Airport.

Designed as an alternative to London event spaces, the NEC has excellent public transport links. Due to its central location in the West Midlands, the centre receives visitors from across the UK.

The nearest train station to Birmingham NEC

The nearest rail station to the NEC is Birmingham International, which is almost inside the centre itself. You can even walk from Birmingham International to the NEC without stepping outside. 

The next closest station is Birmingham New Street, a central hub for trains coming from the north. As the busiest train station outside of London, there are plenty of services there, seven days a week. 

If your route doesn’t go to Birmingham International, there are regular connections between these stations. The journey from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International takes nine minutes. 

How far is Birmingham International train station from the NEC?

Birmingham International is a five-minute walk from the NEC complex. You don’t even need to leave the building. There’s a covered walkway connecting the two locations.

If you’re staying for longer, the NEC has plenty of hotels in the vicinity, such as The Hilton, Crowne Plaza, and Genting Hotel. 

Plus, trains to the city centre begin early and finish late as Birmingham International services the airport. This means you’ll be able to travel into the city without worrying about return transport in the evening.

How to get to the NEC by train

A young woman listens to music while traveling in a train. 

As aforementioned, getting the train to NEC Birmingham is hassle-free. You can reach here with minimal changes from most major UK cities via Avanti services. 

Please check train times in advance. Times may vary depending on timetable changes. 


It takes a little over an hour and a half to travel from London Euston to Birmingham International. This service also offers first-class seating, which is ideal for once-in-a-lifetime concerts.

Trains start at 5:41am on weekdays, 6:00am on Saturday and 8:37am on Sunday from this station. It’s a direct route, so you can sit back and relax on your journey.


If you’re travelling to the NEC from Glasgow, you’ll need to take the train from Glasgow Central to Birmingham International or Birmingham New Street. Then, you can take one of the regular service to Birmingham International. 

At a distance of over 250 miles, this is a longer journey time than other services. You’ll get to the NEC in around four and a half hours. Trains start at 4:28 am on weekdays and 4:26 am on weekends.


Trains departing from Manchester Piccadilly reach Birmingham New Street in under two hours. To continue your journey to Birmingham International with Avanti services, you can change at Crewe or Stoke-on-Trent. <

Trains begin at 6:03 am on a weekday. This direct service reaches Birmingham International in just over an hour and fifty minutes.

Direct services are available from CrossCountry. If travelling direct, you will reach Birmingham International in under two hours.


Travel to Birmingham from Edinburgh Waverley in under five hours with Avanti. This is a direct route, so you can get comfortable on your journey. 

As the distance between Birmingham and Edinburgh is around 249 miles, this is one of Avanti’s longer routes. To pass the time, you can enjoy a snack from the shop in Coach C.

The first train runs at 6:52 am on both weekdays and weekends.


It takes a little over two and a half hours to travel from Leeds to Birmingham New Street. After that, you can transfer via regular services to Birmingham International. This route is ideal for late events, as the last weekday train from Leeds is at 3:17 am.

Trains run from 6:11 am on weekdays and 8:11 am on weekends.

These times may vary depending on timetable changes. Please check in advance.

Visit the Birmingham NEC by train with Avanti

Fast express train passing through a Victorian UK station in southern England 

Now that you know how to get to the NEC Birmingham by rail, plan your adventure in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Avanti offers advance tickets up to 12 weeks before your journey, with savings of up to 70% on full-price fares. Find the cheapest train tickets online, and save money for the concert merchandise.

Staying near the NEC for more than one day? Birmingham offers plenty of opportunities to create the ultimate day trip.

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

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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