London to Derby by Train, Bus and Car

How to get from London to Derby

Derby Cathedral at Dusk
Frank Fell/Getty Images

Derby, 131 miles north of London, has been called "the city of festivals", "the real ale capital of Britain" and "a top 10 must see destination". One thing locals never call it is Derby. Pronounce it "Darby" and and you'll make friends for life. 

How to Get There

By Train

East Midlands Trains (rebranded EMR for East Midlands Railway) serve Derby Station leave from London St. Pancras Station about every half hour, leaving at 2 minutes and 32 minutes after the hour. The journey takes about an hour and a half. In 2019, round trip advance fares started at £47 when purchased as two single/one-way tickets.

UK Travel Tips The cheapest train fares are those designated "Advance" - how far in advance depends upon the journey as most rail companies offer advance fares on a first come first served basis. Advance tickets are usually sold as one-way or "single" tickets. Whether or not you buy advance tickets, always compare the "single" ticket price to the round trip or "return" price as it is often cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than one round trip ticket.
Because train times are tied to demand and rush hours vary from place to place, it can be confusing to try to match up cheap tickets with rail times and travel dates. Simplify your life and let the National Rail Enquiries computer do it for you. Use their Cheapest Fare Finder search tool. If you can be flexible about times and dates that's even better. Tick the boxes marked "All Day" in the extreme right of the tool to get the absolute bottom dollar available fare.
And make sure if opting for the cheapest tickets that you catch the exact train you've booked and leave the train at the exact station as well. It may not seem like a big problem to get off the train one stop too soon but if you do you could end up being charged an excess fare that is more than twice the price of your original ticket.

By Bus

National Express runs direct coaches from London Victoria Coach Station to Derby every two hours between 8:30am and 11:30pm. The trip takes between three and a half and four hours and the cheapest round trip fare (for September 2019) is £10 when purchased in advance as two 1-way tickets for £5 each way. Make sure you book a direct bus. Some trips on this route involve a change of buses and can tale seven or eight hours. And, illogically, those longer trips cost as much as three times more each way!

Bus tickets can be purchased online. There is usually a 50pence booking fee.

UK Travel Tip National Express offers a limited number of "funfare" promotional tickets that are very cheap (£6.50 for a £39.00 fare, for example). These can only be purchased on line and they are usually posted on the website a month to a few weeks before the trip. It is worth checking the website to see if "funfare" tickets are available for your chosen journey. Use the National Express Online Fare Finder to find the cheapest tickets. And, as always, a bit of flexibility about dates and time can save you money.

By Car

Derby is 131 miles north of London via the M1 motorway. It takes about two and a half hours to drive in ideal conditions but you should be aware that the M1 is almost always clogged with huge articulated lorries (semis to North Americans) that travel at intimidating speeds if you are not used to driving in the UK. And lately the M1 seems to always be under construction somewhere, turning long stretches of it into virtual parking lots. Keep in mind too that gasoline, called petrol in the UK, is sold by the liter (a little more than a quart) and the price is usually more than $1.50 a quart.

Read more about  Derby.

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