England Transport

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England has a dense and modern transportation infrastructure. The Department for Transport is the government department responsible for the English transport network.

Rail

English railway transport is largely based on services originating from one of London’s rail termini operating in all directions on tracks mostly owned by Network Rail. Internal intercity services include:

  • Abellio Greater Anglia
    • London Liverpool Street to East Anglia: Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich (main branches include Southend, Clacton-on-Sea)
  • Virgin Trains East Coast
    • London King’s Cross to the North East: Leeds, York, Newcastle upon Tyne, and into Scotland, Edinburgh Waverley (onwards to Aberdeen and Inverness) and Glasgow Central.
  • Virgin Trains
    • London Euston to the Midlands: Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry.
    • London Euston to the North West: Crewe, (Chester and into Wales to Holyhead), Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle, into Scotland, Glasgow Central (for connections to the rest of Scotland).
  • Great Western Railway
    • London Paddington to the West and South West: Reading, Swindon, Bristol into Wales (onwards as the South Wales Main Line to Swansea), Exeter, Plymouth and into Cornwall to Penzance.
  • South Western Railway
    • London Waterloo to the South West: Main line services to Portsmouth, Weymouth and Guildford, and suburban services to Reading and Windsor.
    • The Island Line is also operated by South Western Railway, operating between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin.
  • c2c
    • London Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness.
  • Southern
    • London Victoria to the South: Southampton, Brighton.
  • Southeastern
    • London St Pancras International to the South East: Ashford, Margate, Canterbury.
    • London Victoria, London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street and London Bridge to the South East: Ashford, Margate, Canterbury, and suburban services to Dartford and Sevenoaks and other areas of Kent.
  • Chiltern Railways
    • London Marylebone to the Midlands: High Wycombe, Aylesbury, Banbury, and Birmingham.
  • Grand Central Railway
    • London King’s Cross to York and Sunderland
  • East Midlands Trains
    • St Pancras railway station to the East Midlands and the North: Corby, Melton Mowbray, Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield, York, Scarborough, Lincoln and Leeds
  • Thameslink and Great Northern
    • Thameslink services operate across London from Bedford to Brighton, through London St Pancras International and Blackfriars, as well as suburban services.
    • Great Northern services operate from London King’s Cross and Moorgate to Cambridge and Welwyn Garden City.

Short distance travel that doesn’t pass through London is generally referred to as cross country travel. Most services are operated by CrossCountry and often terminate in South East Wales or Scotland. The Oxford to Cambridge or Varsity Line is due to be rebuilt to enable journeys avoiding London and Birmingham.

Regional train services are also operated by these, and other, train companies, and focus on the major cities, several of which have developed commuter and urban rail networks. This includes the London Overground in London and the Merseyrail, which operates in and around Liverpool. The London Underground (commonly known as the Tube) is the oldest and longest rapid transit system in the world.

Trams and light rail

A vintage British tram from the former Leeds Tramway, preserved at the National Tramway Museum.

A vintage British tram from the former Leeds Tramway, preserved at the National Tramway Museum.

Tram systems were popular in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with the rise of the motor bus and later the car they began to be widely dismantled in the 1950s. By 1962, only Blackpool tramway remained. However, in recent years trams have seen a revival, as in other countries, as have light rail systems. Examples of this second generation of tram systems and light rail include:
  • Docklands Light Railway in east London.
  • Manchester Metrolink in Greater Manchester.
  • Sheffield Supertram in Sheffield.
  • Midland Metro in the West Midlands.
  • Tramlink in Croydon.
  • Tyne and Wear Metro in Tyne and Wear.
  • NET in Nottingham.

Rail links with adjacent countries

  • Wales; yes.
  • Scotland; yes.
  • France; yes; via Channel Tunnel.
  • Belgium; yes; via Channel Tunnel and France.
  • Ireland; no (except by ferry); proposed via an Irish Sea Tunnel.

Road

The Motorways and major roads in England are managed by Highways England.

Motorways

England contains a vast majority of the UK’s motorways, dating from the first built in 1958 (part of the M6) to the most recent (M6 Toll). Important motorways include:

MotorwayFromToMajor destinationsYear most recent stretch opened
M1LondonLeedsLeicester
Milton Keynes
Nottingham
Sheffield
1999
M11LondonCambridgeStansted Airport1980
M20LondonFolkestoneChannel Tunnel1991
M23LondonCrawleyGatwick Airport1999
M25London OrbitalLondon Orbitaln/a1986
M27SouthamptonPortsmouthFareham1983
M3LondonSouthamptonWinchester1995
M4LondonPont AbrahamBristol
Cardiff
1996
M40LondonBirminghamOxford1990
M42RedditchTamworthBirmingham1989
M5BirminghamExeterBristol1977
M56ChesterManchesterManchester Airport1981
M6RugbyCarlisleBirmingham
Manchester
1972
M6 TollNational Exhibition CentreWolverhamptonBirmingham2003
M60Manchester OrbitalManchester Orbitaln/a2000
M62LiverpoolHullManchester
Leeds
1976
M65PrestonColneBlackburn1997
M69LeicesterCoventryHinckley1977
A1(M)LondonNewcastle-upon-TyneNon-continuous motorway2012

Note: There is no definition of a major motorway. Those in the table are particularly important due to their destinations, and other motorways exist. Where a major city (such as London) is given as a destination it is usually to give a general idea of the location, as most (London) motorways end outside the actual city (for example, the M40 actually ends in Buckinghamshire).

Bus transport

Buses play a major role in the public transport of England, as well as seeing extensive private use. While rail transport has increased over the past twenty years due to road congestion, the same does not apply to buses, which have generally been used less, apart from in London where their use has increased significantly. Bus transport is heavily subsidised, especially in London. In 2014/15, there were 4.65 billion bus journeys in England, 2.4 billion of which were in London.