The train hack that nobody wants you to know

The super simple way to be the first person on the train

If you’ve ever found yourself rushing to your train platform with hundreds of other passengers, this hack is about to change everything.

All you need to do is go to Realtime Trains, an independent website that compiles live information about train departures.

But why is this significant? Well, the wonderful thing about Realtime Trains is that it often shows what platform your next train is coming into before its shown on the large departure screens at the train station – meaning you can head to your platform before anyone else.

How do I use Realtime Trains?

  1. If you get to your train station and find your train platform hasn’t been announced yet, log onto realtimetrains.co.uk 
  2. Under the ‘Where?‘ search box, type the train station you’re departing from
  3. You can fill in the date and time if you like, but if you’re travelling on that day you can leave them blank and hit ‘Submit‘ to see the upcoming trains at your station
  4. Scroll to find your train – it will display the platform to the right but you can also click on the journey for a more detailed overview

You can also find your destination quicker by adding a little more info to the ‘Where?‘ box. Most people just write the departure station but you can write in entire journeys too.

For example, type in ‘London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly’, or just the station codes ‘EUS to MAN’ to only bring up trains going between those two places.

What do the different colours mean?

  • Light grey – this platform hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it’s likely that the train will come into this platform
  • Bold – the train is confirmed to be using this platform – it’s likely that this is now displayed on the main departures board also
  • Red – the train is using a different platform to the one it is booked to use

What else should I know before using this hack?

Favourite Realtime Trains now!

There’s nothing worse than knowing there’s a great hack out there… but you can’t remember the name of the website! So do yourself a favour and favourite it now, or even send this page to a mate so that you know where to find the information quickly in the future.

Share this page with a friend
Keep refreshing and double check before you set off

Train platforms can change at the last minute and so keep refreshing and double check with the details on the side of the train, on the platform and even with a staff member before settling in for your journey.

This has only happened to me once out of about 40 times and so whilst it’s always good to check, this hack is definitely worth doing.

Wait at the top of the platform if the train hasn't been announced yet

You’re often not allowed to board a train until it’s announced, or you may find the ticket barriers are closed. In this case, you can simply hang around at the top of the platform until the official confirmation comes through. You’re likely to see some fellow Realtime Train fans there!

If you haven't got a seat, research which carriages are unreserved

Most trains will have an unreserved area so either give it a quick google, or ask a staff member which carriage you should be heading to. Using this knowledge in tandem with Realtime Trains has meant I’ll often bag a table seat on even a busy train!

Have I helped? Want to say thanks?

That’s nice of you! There are free ways you can return the favour by following me on Instagram and YouTube.

If you’re feeling generous, you can buy me a ‘coffee’ using Ko-Fi. Or you can also join my Patreon for extra travel perks including my personal hotel upgrade templates, behind the scenes access and even a secret Instagram group.

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About Chelsea

Find out a bit more about what I do.