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ID Medical’s Guide to Getting Around via the UK’s Public Transport System

Oct 28, 2020.

Getting where you need to go isn’t always fun, especially when you’ve first arrived in a new country – but it’s important to note that the UK public transport system is extremely well connected and efficient, making travelling relatively painless.

Whether you’re getting a tube from North London to South or hopping on a plane from London to Leeds – we’ve got you covered! In this post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about travelling on the UK’s public transport system.

What options are there?


Up first is flying and this is the most logical option if you’re doing a long distance journey from one side of the UK to the other – such as Cardiff to Edinburgh. To drive, this journey would take you nearly 7 hours, 6 and a half on the train and a speedy 1 hour 35 minutes on a plane!

When it comes to deciding on your travel journey, it’s most likely that your inbound flight will arrive into Heathrow or Gatwick which means that you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to getting a second flight to your new UK home.  The UK public transport system is served by over 40 international and regional airports; some of which top the list of the busiest airports in Europe.

London is serviced by six major international airports making it one of the most accessible city hubs to travel to and from almost anywhere in the world. The airports are: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend and London City.

In the North of England, you’ll find Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Leeds Bradford Airport. Just underneath in the Midlands, you have Birmingham and East Midlands Airport. In the West of England, there’s Bristol and Exeter. In Wales you have Cardiff and Swansea. Northern Ireland there’s Belfast International and finally, in Scotland the major airports are Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Flight comparison sites include Sky Scanner, Google Flights, Expedia, Cheap Flights, Kayak and Travel Supermarket.


As you can see, most UK airports are based in major cities – so, when it comes to travelling to small towns and villages, it doesn’t actually make sense to fly as you’ll then need to get an additional mode of transport.

The UK has a vast train network which operates under National Rail. In fact, the UK public transport system is the most systematic train service within Europe. The best place to start is on National Rail or Train Line, where you’ll have the opportunity to compare prices, timetables, itineraries and rail passes. Once you’ve found the cheapest and most efficient option, try and go directly to the train service providers’ website to miss out on those pesky booking fees!

There are plenty of websites to choose from when looking to book a journey; include Cross Country, East Midlands Railway, Virgin Trains, Great Western Railway, Great Northern, South Eastern, Thameslink & more!

Did you know the UK is home to 2,563 train stations? That means whether you are travelling to a city, town and village – it’s most likely you can get within 5 miles of your destination.

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By Coach or Bus

Opting for a flight or train in the UK, can be expensive… especially if you’re going long distance! So, buses and coaches are often a viable alternative and they will be substantially less expensive.

In the UK buses are modern, comfortable and they even have electric charging points to allow you to plug in, sit back and enjoy your movie on your journey! You’ll also find that in most cities and towns, buses have designated bus lanes to beat congestion that makes driving in a city such a stress!

For journeys up and down the UK, the major coach lines include National Express, Stagecoach and Megabus. All tickets will need to be booked in advanced, as last-minute availability is usually quite low.

Alternatively, if you need to get a local bus they’ll be operated by either a private company or by the local council. Search bus timetables for the town or village in question, and Google will be your best friend! Remember to have access to some change as some buses are ‘the-right-change only!’

By Car

Last but certainly not least, is the option to drive. Opting to drive allows you to explore the natural wonders of the UK, without having to wait around for your public transport to arrive.

The UK’s motorway system has been established for over 60 years. It ranges from the M1 all the way up to the M898, but don’t worry – there’s not a motorway for every single number! The longest motorway in the UK is the M6, running from Leicestershire all the way up to the Scottish Border, measuring up to a total of 236 miles. And the widest motorway is the M61 in Greater Manchester, with a staggering 17 lanes of traffic!

To save money on rental costs, it’s always best to pre-book before arriving in the UK. A useful tip is that if you’re used to driving automatic, it’s important to request this as most people in the UK drive a manual vehicle!

What are the benefits of using the UK public transport system?

Although the UK isn’t a large country, there’s nothing worse than stepping off a plane after a 10-hour flight, carrying your heavy luggage off the conveyor belt through security and customs to then have to drive five-hours up north! So, why not take the stress away by travelling public!  The benefits of using the UK public transport system include:

  • A less stressful journey
  • You don’t have to worry about parking
  • It reduces congestion
  • It reduces your carbon footprint

We hope you find this guide useful and of course, if you have any questions about arriving in the UK and you’re still unsure of how to get to your NHS trust or new home – ID Medical can help you!

Simply email us your query to! The great news about working within the NHS is that all facilities need to be easily accessible by all, so it won’t be too far from a bus stop or airport – making your A to B journey that little bit simpler!

Relocate to the UK and work for the NHS with ID Medical