Trivia: Which major UK town has the least direct route from London?

bearhugger

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Northallerton is surprisingly well served. When you consider you have 2 TPE services an hour to Manchester Airport, a London train every hour served by both LNER and GC plus trains to Edinburgh via Newcastle, Sunderland via hartlepool and additional stops in the morning and evening peaks. It’s quite a crucial connection hub for North Yorkshire and has a significant military presence nearby
True. Northallerton is actually the County Town, if that's the correct term, rather than York for North Yorkshire. I suppose I've just assumed that when I've travelled on TPE from Middlesbrough to Thirsk, York or Manchester we often wait just before joining the ECML for trains that are actually on the main line to zip past before carrying on that most services don't call there.
 
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Skipness

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Whitby to anywhere to its south is indirect. Connections at Middlesbrough (and by bus at Pickering) used to be awful but I haven't checked recently. The quickest way out is often a bus to Scarborough, Malton or York.
As from today it is even more difficult with just two departures from Whitby at 6.40 and 19.44
 

mirodo

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Burnley and Accy are pretty simple with a change at preston. Although I'm sure we wouldn't say no to Grand Central type service from the East Lancs conurbation.
I generally find Burnley > London to be cheaper via Leeds and the ECML. Journey time is only marginally longer.
 

Glenn1969

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Northern's RTT is showing a normal service from 1 June which will no doubt help make some of these connections easier. Or will it be changed nearer the time to match the current service?
 

Starmill

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Lincoln is pretty poor.
There are usually six through trains a day between Lincoln and London, with approximately a two hour journe time. There are further opportunities throughout the day with one change and at the most, only a slight journey time penalty, plus a slower service each way direct to London that runs via Leicester.

In what way is this 'poor'?
 

30907

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As from today it is even more difficult with just two departures from Whitby at 6.40 and 19.44
One way of keeping the tourists away :)
The Community Rail Partnership have supposedly been lobbying to have the early "commuter" train to Middlesborough reinstated - and there's not much point running the school trains just now.
 

SoccerHQ

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There are usually six through trains a day between Lincoln and London, with approximately a two hour journe time. There are further opportunities throughout the day with one change and at the most, only a slight journey time penalty, plus a slower service each way direct to London that runs via Leicester.

In what way is this 'poor'?
Didn't realise they had through services now, thought it was still a connection at Newark northgate if London train was going up to Donny/York etc.
 

telstarbox

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What about which place near London has the least direct route from London?

Tattenham Corner?
Epsom Downs (although it's a lot faster to change at Sutton)?
Maybe Shepperton?
Not quite what you asked, but Dartford is unusual as a major station which is only served by all shacks services to London and no 'regional' trains as at Shenfield, Watford Junction, Woking etc.
 

London Trains

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Not quite what you asked, but Dartford is unusual as a major station which is only served by all shacks services to London and no 'regional' trains as at Shenfield, Watford Junction, Woking etc.
It's also very unusual in having 3 routes to the same London Terminal (well technically it has 5 - via Greenwich and Woolwich, via Lewisham and Woolwich, via Bexleyheath, via Sidcup calling at Lewisham, via Sidcup avoiding Lewisham).

It is also unusual in having services to 9 London Terminals (London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Victoria, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras) - could this be the most of any National Rail station?
 
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I was wondering which sizeable town has the least direct rail route from London. I thought of Cheltenham, Gloucester, Hereford and maybe some of the big towns in the Pennines. If I'm not mistaken the shortest route from London to Cheltenham was via High Wycombe, Oxford, Kingham and Andoversford. But on the whole, since the GW cut-offs were built before 1914, most main lines from London have been reasonably direct, with nothing like the detour via Dijon that used to lengthen the route from Paris to Lyon before the LGV was built.
I am familiar with that most curious quirk of Cheltenham's, its lack of an obvious rail route to London. The Great Western Railway ended up all but given up on any hope of providing the town with a London connection with a velocity (as-the-crow-flies distance divided by time) of more than 30mph. In the 1949 Western Region timetable, Table 15 details a multimodal option to Cheltenham: train to Oxford then Bristol Tramways bus. This was more direct but still an hour slower than the train via Kemble.
I have often benefited from this quirk with dubious ticketing, the frogging that it allowed me to get away with being widespread. Meek-natured Cross-Country staff would let me ride to Birmingham on a London return, then I'd bail at University to buy a suburban ticket to get me through the barriers at New Street, Birmingham local transport being relatively cheap. University had barriers but I always found them open, I suppose a backup plan would have been to go to Bournville or Duddeston but I never had to do that.

Any town in Northern Ireland.
Taking, for instance, Londonderry:
Waterside > Yorkgate > Larne > Cairnryan > Stranraer > Ayr > Kilmarnock > Carlisle > Euston makes up to be about 900 miles, or just under 50% deviation.
On a side point, I would myself quite like to use Steam Packet to travel from Ireland to Great Britain, using Douglas as an Emirates passenger might Dubai.
e.g. Belfast 1:30 > 6:01 Douglas 8:45 > 12:30 Heysham
 
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It's also very unusual in having 3 routes to the same London Terminal (well technically it has 5 - via Greenwich and Woolwich, via Lewisham and Woolwich, via Bexleyheath, via Sidcup calling at Lewisham, via Sidcup avoiding Lewisham).

It is also unusual in having services to 9 London Terminals (London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Victoria, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras) - could this be the most of any National Rail station?
Who could forget the intricacy of the 41! Clockwise from right:
  • Beckenham Junction
    • Penge East, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Penge East, Brixton, Victoria
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Crystal Palace, Balham, Victoria
  • either Croydon
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Crystal Palace, Balham, Victoria
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Selhurst, Balham, Victoria
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, Shoreditch High Street, Highbury & I, Gospel Oak, Willesden Junction, Addison Road, Queenstown Road, Waterloo
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, Shoreditch High Street, Highbury & I, Gospel Oak, Willesden Junction, Acton Central, Kew Bridge, Barnes, Queenstown Road, Waterloo
  • Dorking
    • Epsom, Sutton, West Croydon, then any of the above
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Balham, Victoria
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Earlsfield, Waterloo
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, East Putney, Waterloo
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Tooting, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Tooting, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Tooting, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Guildford, Effingham Junction, Epsom, then any of the above
    • Guildford, Woking, Surbiton, Wimbledon, Waterloo
    • Reigate, Redhill, Purley, East Croydon, then any from the Croydon category
 

Starmill

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Not quite what you asked, but Dartford is unusual as a major station which is only served by all shacks services to London and no 'regional' trains as at Shenfield, Watford Junction, Woking etc.
It's not quite so bad, like Slade Green (among others) is, because they do have 2tph fast from New Eltham to London Bridge so you get some sub-half hour options. It's still very slow though.
 

London Trains

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Who could forget the intricacy of the 41! Clockwise from right:
  • Beckenham Junction
    • Penge East, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Penge East, Brixton, Victoria
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Crystal Palace, Balham, Victoria
  • either Croydon
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Crystal Palace, Balham, Victoria
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Selhurst, Balham, Victoria
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, Shoreditch High Street, Highbury & I, Gospel Oak, Willesden Junction, Addison Road, Queenstown Road, Waterloo
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, Shoreditch High Street, Highbury & I, Gospel Oak, Willesden Junction, Acton Central, Kew Bridge, Barnes, Queenstown Road, Waterloo
  • Dorking
    • Epsom, Sutton, West Croydon, then any of the above
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Balham, Victoria
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Earlsfield, Waterloo
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, East Putney, Waterloo
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Tooting, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Tooting, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Tooting, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Brixton, Victoria
    • Guildford, Effingham Junction, Epsom, then any of the above
    • Guildford, Woking, Surbiton, Wimbledon, Waterloo
    • Reigate, Redhill, Purley, East Croydon, then any from the Croydon category
I meant actual routes though, most of these are not used for actual services. Dartford has 5 routes, which are all used for some services.

In the case of Dorking, only 3 of those 41 routes are used:

Epsom - Worcester Park - Wimbledon - Earlsfield - Waterloo
Epsom - Sutton - (Mitcham Junction) - Clapham Junction - Victoria
Epsom - Sutton - West Croydon - Norwood Junction - (New Cross Gate) - London Bridge (PEAK ONLY)
 

30907

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Who could forget the intricacy of the 41! Clockwise from right:
  • either Croydon
    • Penge West, New Cross Gate, London Bridge/Charing Cross
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Crystal Palace, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Crystal Palace, Balham, Victoria
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Selhurst, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Junction, Blackfriars
    • Selhurst, Balham, Victoria
    • Sutton, Wimbledon, Tulse Hill, Blackfriars/Holborn V
  • Dorking (all)
    • Epsom, Sutton, West Croydon, etc (not via Peckham)
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Streatham, Tulse Hill, Peckham, London Bridge
    • Epsom, Sutton, Mitcham Junction, Balham, Victoria
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, Earlsfield, Waterloo
    • Epsom, Stoneleigh, Wimbledon, East Putney, Waterloo
    • Reigate, Redhill, Purley, East Croydon, London Br
I think you are referring to Table 41 of the 1949 SR timetable (72 in my day)?
I've reduced your list to routes that have actually operated (apart from engineering works peculiarities) but it's still impressive. I'm not sure which of the direct routes from Croydon to Blackfriars operated in early Thameslink days.
 

maniacmartin

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In terms of ratio of straight-line distance to rail distance to a London terminal, the North London Line fares poorly. e.g. Camden Road to St Pancras is under a mile travelling there on National Rail services only is significantly longer.
 

London Trains

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Having thought about it, Sutton also has a lot of used routes to London Terminals:

Sutton - Mitcham Junction - Clapham Junction - Victoria

Sutton - West Croydon - Selhurst - Clapham Junction - Victoria

Sutton - West Croydon - Norwood Junction - (New Cross Gate) - London Bridge

Sutton - Mitcham Junction - Streatham - Elephant and Castle - Blackfriars

Sutton - Wimbledon - Streatham - Elephant and Castle - Blackfriars

Sutton - Mitcham Junction - Streatham - Peckham Rye - London Bridge PEAK ONLY

Sutton - West Croydon - Selhurst - Streatham - Peckham Rye - London Bridge PEAK ONLY

Sutton - Wimbledon - Streatham - Peckham Rye - London Bridge PEAK ONLY

Before May 2018, there also used to be Sutton - West Croydon - Norwood Junction - Crystal Palace - Streatham Hill - Clapham Junction - Victoria
 

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