- WHERE TO STAY
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CRUISE PORTS
Harwich is around 90 miles (145km) from the centre of London. On a good day, a vehicle will make it in under 2 hours. The only public transport between Harwich and London is train from London's Liverpool Street Station, for most people staying in London, quite a way from their hotel.
The ferry and cruise port is a few miles outside the town of Harwich and has its own train station, Harwich International, the station for the town of Harwich is called Harwich Town. At the moment there is no direct bus service between London and Harwich.
Harwich is the other side of London from both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, London's major airports. The closest London airport is Stansted Airport which is dominated by European low cost budget airlines. This is about half way between Heathrow and Harwich.
The key message to get across to someone looking at using Liverpool Street Station is that it is situated in the City of London, London's main business area dominated by the financial industry.
During the week this area is frantic and heaving with (business) people, at the weekend it is a ghost town. Apart from a cluster of hotels around the Tower of London, less than a mile away, Liverpool Street Station is quite a long way from the parts of London that most leisure travellers use.
The London airports that Liverpool Streets convenient for are City Airport and Stansted Airport. Heathrow Airport is particularly troublesome with significant luggage unless you take the plunge and splurge on a taxi.
Liverpool Street is serviced by four London Underground lines, so for the budget traveller at least its not a big deal. Liverpool Street is primarily a commuter train station for North London and regional services to the East Anglia region, which includes Harwich. It's a busy place with no shortage of food and convenience outlets, a ticket office that is only closed for a few hours in the very early morning and a useful left luggage office facility (not lockers) open 7am to 11am.
Harwich International Station is adjacent to the ferry and cruise terminals which are separate buildings. You walk straight from the platform into either terminal. Facilities within the cruise terminal are fairly basic, but purpose built and spacious. There is a cafe, very reasonably priced and a local tourist stand within the cruise terminal, but little else.
Next door in the ferry terminal, (accessed by going along the rail platform), is another restaurant an exchange bureaux, more toilets and telephones. This is also where you will find the ticket office for the railway.
There is a broadly hourly train between Harwich International Station and London's Liverpool Street Station. The Harwich line is a branch line and for nearly all train journeys between Harwich and London you will have to change trains at Manningtree Station. Journey time is around 75 minutes.
If you are travelling at the weekends particularly, do check that no scheduled rail maintenance is due to take place. Normally when this happens a bus replacement service is put on around the stretch of track closed down.
On the trains between Liverpool Street and Harwich there are no reserved seats and no help is given with your luggage. You just board the train and find a seat that suits you on a first come first served basis and store your luggage as best you can.
Ticketing on UK railways is very complex. On the Harwich run the cheapest tickets are normally advance purchase tickets made available up to 3 months prior to travel.
On the cruise train there are also no seat reservations. The train appears on the on-line facilities like The Trainline link below but no promotional fares seem to be made available for this train, resulting in you paying the full fare. The three types of tickets are broadly:
Advance purchase: Buy in advance, sold in limited numbers and subject to availability. These tickets will have restrictions specified when purchasing.
Off peak: Buy any time, travel off-peak. The definition of off peak can vary from ticket to ticket. These tickets may require you to travel at specific times of day, days of the week or on a specific route. Where there is more than one Off-Peak fare for a journey, the cheaper fare with more restrictions will be called Super Off-Peak.
Anytime: Buy any time, travel any time. (the standard ticket). Anytime fares are fully flexible tickets, with no time restrictions on when you can travel.
At train stations there are manned ticket offices and also ticket machines. All major credit cards are taken as well as cash. For fares and timetables use the Trainline website below, where you can also order tickets for delivery to your home address.
Book in advance and save money on your train journey
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