Quieter train from London St Pancras to Luton Airport
December 18, 2017 2:25 AM   Subscribe

I'll be travelling by train from London St Pancras station to Luton Airport (and back) over the holidays. Which train company is more likely to give me a less crowded train?

I'll be travelling with luggage and small children so my priority is a train with as few people on it as possible rather than a fast one. I've done this a few times but always seem to get confused by the different options. You can go upstairs in St Pancras to take an East Midlands train (I think) or downstairs to get a Thameslink train. It seems that on one of these train companies (I think East Midlands) the train is likely to be more crowded, seats are often reserved, and you may wind up sitting on the floor between carriages. And that's even more likely to be a problem when you're going from Luton Airport in to St Pancras. Can you confirm or correct my understanding?
posted by EtTuHealy to Travel & Transportation around London, England (4 answers total)
The Thameslink is generally a commuter train and I've never been on it when super busy - also last week when I caught it, the train had cool indicators telling you which carriages were less crowded and had seats.
posted by teststrip at 2:32 AM on December 18, 2017

Yes, broadly speaking you are correct - the East Midlands train is most likely to be crowded (they are also more expensive I think). The holiday period is strange though and this may not always be the case.

To maximise your chances of getting seats and a relatively quiet train I would get one of the slower Thameslink services (i.e. the ones that stop at Cricklewood, Hendon etc on their way through). Another advantage of the slow trains is that they are "declassified" meaning that you can sit in the first class section on a standard class ticket. Not everyone knows this, so you might find that the first class sections (located at the front and rear of the train) are quieter than the rest of the train.
posted by jonnyploy at 3:47 AM on December 18, 2017

It’s more about the time of day you are travelling.

Unless you are travelling into London before 9:30 or out of London between 17:00-19:00, those trains are usually fine. So it’s worth travelling a bit earlier or later to avoid those times if you can.
posted by tinkletown at 5:03 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding East Midlands Trains, the service to Sheffield or Nottingham. If you go first class off peak on a weekday (about £20) you will have the carriage to yourself.
posted by derbs at 12:43 AM on December 19, 2017

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