Best UK airport for onward train travel?

As a country, the UK is blessed with a wide range of commercial airports, providing considerable nationwide coverage. As parking is often expensive and public transport is an environmentally friendly means of transport, some passengers prefer to take the train to and from the airport. Several UK airports have their own train stations, but few are as convenient as Southampton.


A fluid exchange

Readers who have flown into the UK will know that for a faster connection it is difficult to look beyond those offered by smaller airports. Indeed, on a recent KLM trip from Bremen to Norwich via Amsterdam, it took me just over five minutes to reach a taxi office once the plane stopped.

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Southampton Airport (SOU) offers similar convenience in this regard. Although it typically carries around 2 million passengers a year during its pre-pandemic peak, it is still compact enough that, according to its website, the walk from the terminal to the adjacent Southampton Airport Parkway station can only take 99 steps.

For passengers traveling with young children or bulky luggage, this translates to a much easier air-rail connection than at major airports. For example, cities like London Heathrow and Gatwick have their stations below the terminal.

Integrated ticketing

Southampton Airport Parkway benefits from being located on the South West Main Line from London Waterloo to Weymouth. As such, it offers a genuinely viable alternative for passengers wishing to travel to the UK’s capital. Indeed, the train journey takes only 69 minutes, according to Southampton Airport.

With this in mind, one of the resident airlines at Southampton Airport has developed an integrated ticketing offer, to allow its passengers smooth rail connections to London. The carrier in question is Blue Islands, which flies to Southampton (but, crucially, not London) from the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey.

Tickets can be booked through an exclusive link on the Blue Islands website, which claims to save passengers £60 ($67.87). By booking their tickets this way, customers based in the Channel Islands of Blue Islands can treat themselves to a return anytime between Southampton Airport Parkway and London Waterloo for just £36 ($40.72) or 61 £ ($69) first class. This flexible ticket is valid for one month.

Other useful connections

Although Southwestern Railway’s route from Southampton Airport Parkway to London Waterloo is perhaps the most important rail link from the airport, many other destinations also enjoy direct connections to the facility. This is largely thanks to the fact that CrossCountry’s Manchester-Bournemouth services stop there.

While passengers from the north of this corridor are unlikely to travel to Southampton to catch a flight, those further south are certainly well placed to do so. For example, the airport is only 49 minutes by train from Reading’s main rail hub, which arguably makes it more convenient from there than Heathrow.

Indeed, traveling from Reading to Heathrow (Terminals 2&3) by train takes at least 50 minutes, and requires a change at Hayes & Harlington. Further north, Oxford is just 78 minutes from Southampton Airport via a direct train. Although you can reach Heathrow from Oxford in just 76 minutes, this requires two changes.

What do you think of Southampton’s rail connectivity options? Have you ever used the airport yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Sources: Blue Isles, Southampton Airport

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