The Great Hall exhibit at the National Railway Museum.
York
Yorkshire and the Humber
North Yorkshire
England
United Kingdom
York
Yorkshire and the Humber
North Yorkshire
England
United Kingdom

National Railway Museum

Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Part of the UK's renowned Science Museum Group, the National Railway Museum is home to a leading collection of locomotives, steam trains and railway engines in York.
  • Through their historic galleries and temporary exhibitions, this Yorkshire museum traces the development of rail transport in Great Britain and celebrates its past, present and soon-to-be accomplishments.
  • Over the years they have housed some of the most iconic railway trains in the world, such as the Hogwarts Express, the Flying Scotsman and even the beloved Thomas The Tank Engine.
  • Kids will love the multiple train ride experiences on offer, including a Miniature Railway, an innovative Road Train and the steam locomotive simulator - the Mallard Experience.
  • Don't miss the seasonal events taking place at the National Railway Museum throughout the year, such as Pop-up Science shows, interactive storytelling and half-term workshops.

Founded in 1975, the National Railway Museum has been celebrating, showcasing and exploring the most groundbreaking feats of railway engineering in the United Kingdom for nearly fifty years.

The National Railway Museum in York prides itself on housing an unparalleled collection of locomotives and railway engines for people of all ages to discover and enjoy. As part of the acclaimed Science Museum Group, which encompasses London's famous Science Museum, the York Railway Museum invites visitors to explore the fascinating and impressive history of railway technology in the UK and the revolutionary pieces of engineering that helped shape the world as we know it today. The museum's exhibition spaces tell the amazing stories of Britain's railways through their bountiful and rich collection; visitors can uncover the rise of the locomotive and the pioneering thinkers behind its invention, witness the innovative use of ambulance trains during the First World War, discover the longest railway in the whole world - the Trans-Siberian rail line - and hear first-hand from the huge array of people who have worked on the railways over the years in the national oral archives. Families can see rare objects and railway artefacts in the museum's Highlights collection and even step onboard a historic carriage yourself in some of the National Railway Museum's immersive exhibition spaces.

Some of the National Railway's most impressive items can be found in the iconic Great Hall museum space, where you can walk amongst the most famous rail engines from the past two hundred years. Here you can marvel at the record-breaking Japanese bullet train, the fastest passenger rail in the whole world, catch a working replica of the steam locomotive Rocket and view the classy 'Duchess of Hamilton' train whilst expert Explainers offer fascinating talks and answer all of your engine-burning questions. Elsewhere, in the National Railway Museum's Station Hall you can unpack over one hundred years of railway history in this former goods shed dating all the way back to the 1870s. This former York station room lets you climb aboard elegant royal carriages (including Queen Victoria and King Edward's Saloons!), explore an old-fashioned postal sorting van system and view the vintage steam locomotives of the South Coast Railway. In one of its most acclaimed regular appearances, the National Railway Museum is also one of the few sites of the special Flying Scotsman passenger tours. Keep an eye out for when the world's most famous locomotive is next coming to York and make sure you don't miss this iconic steam engine in motion!

A mother and her child walking through the Great Hall train exhibit at the National Railway Museum.

The National Railway Museum is dedicated to spreading the wonders of railway engineering through both the best educational exhibitions and the most exciting, hands-on experiences for kids. There are multiple interactive galleries, and open train rides on offer at the museum which are perfectly tailored to all different age groups so that there is something for everyone to get involved with on site. Younger kids and families will delight in the Miniature Railway ride, which journeys through gigantic railway replicas and the seasonal landscape of the South Yard, whilst older thrill-seekers can immerse themselves at the footplate of the Mallard simulator ride, which re-enacts the world's fastest steam locomotive run. If your family are exploring even more tourist hotspots in York during your visit, then don't miss the fabulous Road Train which conveniently and stylishly transports guests between the Railway Museum and the famous York Minster. There are also two wonderful play areas on site for children to blow off their own steam, including an exciting outdoor playground and an indoor railway-themed area, where little ones under five can let their imaginations run wild with toy train lines, Rocket building experiments and charming train driver role plays.

During your visit to the National Railway Museum, make sure you stop off and refuel at the delightful train-themed restaurant on site which offers a great range of children's lunch boxes and an array of hot food, sandwiches, cakes and refreshing drinks. Don't forget to pop into the awesome National Railway Museum shop before you go too, which features a huge collection of gifts, train souvenirs, stationery items, toy railways and much more for budding young engineers to enjoy. No matter what time of year you visit this wonderful Science Museum Group institution, there is always something on for families to get involved with. With extended opening times during school holidays, you can keep the learning going through kid-friendly science shows, immersive storytelling sessions, chances to explore the collection of railways first-hand and tons of family activities and workshops on offer throughout the year. To really make the most of your visit both within the museum and back at home, you can download the exciting Treasure Hunters app which creates a unique museum tour each time you log on to play. Explore the railways and take photos with the free app as you go to score points and battle against your friends and family. Will you accept the challenge and go on to win the best Treasure Hunters badges?

Whether you're a history buff, train driver in-the-making, budding young engineer or love a bit of immersive science exploration, the National Railway Museum provides a brilliantly fun and informative day out for all the family. Explore the revolutionary railways, unpack hundreds of years of history and discover how Britain's leading engineering work changed the world of transport and technology forever. Whilst you're visiting North England's historic city of York, there is tons more for families to discover on a York City Cruise via the picturesque River Ouse. Why not indulge in a visit to the delicious York's Chocolate Story museum, or get all Gothic at the stunning English Heritage site of Whitby Abbey?

What to know before you go

  • The National Railway Museum opening times are currently Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm. During some school holidays, the museum will be open every day to the public.
  • Entrance to the National Railway Museum York is free to all who visit.
  • Maps of the Railway Museum are available at the main entrance, including large print versions.
  • For eating and drinking within the National Railway Museum, you can head to Great Hall Cafe which serves a delicious array of breakfast, lunch, snack and drink options, including children's and adult's lunch bags. Cafe staff will be happy to heat baby food and bottles for you too.
  • There are also picnic areas in the South Yard and outside the Countess of York carriage if you prefer to bring your own food to enjoy on site.
  • Nearby towards York city centre, you can also find many other family-friendly eateries such as Pizza Express, Bill's, Piccolino, Akbars, Costa Coffee, Las Iguanas, McDonald's, the Slug & Lettuce and more.
  • There is a great gift shop on site at the National Railway Museum offering railway memorabilia, train models, souvenirs, gifts, stationery, toys and more. The shop is located at the main entrance of the museum.
  • The National Railway Museum aims to be fully accessible for all its guests, and if you need any assistance during your visit, then the museum staff will be happy to help.
  • Wheelchairs are available to borrow for free during your visit from the museum entrance.
  • Accessible toilets can be found in the Great Hall and Station Hall facilities. There are also some accessible changing facilities located in the Railway Museum.
  • Please note that the locomotive cabs are only accessible via a short set of steps and there is no step-free access to the carriages. The Chinese Locomotive and Shinkansen can be viewed via a wheelchair ramp.
  • Assistance dogs are welcome in the museum, but no other pets are allowed in the building.
  • Braille and large print versions of the National Railway Museum map are available for blind and partially-sighted visitors.
  • Deaf and hard-of-hearing guests can access a fixed hearing loop system from the museum entrance reception desk.
  • Toilets are located in the Great Hall, Station Hall, the Works balcony and the entrance to the museum by the car park. Baby changing facilities can be found in the Great Hall and Station Hall bathrooms.
  • Breastfeeding is welcome anywhere in the museum, or a private feeding room can also be found at the entrance near to the car park.
  • Small and large lockers are available for bag storage during your visit to the museum for a small non-refundable fee.
  • There is Wi-Fi available throughout the museum.
  • You are welcome to take photos during your visit as long as they are for private use only and you do not use your camera in areas where photography is prohibited, which are clearly indicated.
  • Regular family events take place at York's National Railway Museum throughout the year and school holidays.
  • There is an outdoor playground and a train-themed indoor play area for children under 5 at the museum, as well as a Miniature Railway ride and Mallard Experience simulator ride available for older kids.
  • The Science Museum Group offers a great Kids' Handbook to the Railway Museum for visitors aged from 6 to 11. These are available for just £5 from the reception desk.
  • Families can also download the Treasure Hunters app to make the most of their visit and continue the fun at home, which offers unique museum tours, photo hunts, family competitions and badge-earning opportunities.

Getting there

  • The National Railway Museum is located on Leeman Road just a ten-minute walk away from York city centre in the north of England.
  • If you are travelling to the venue by car, then the rail museum York is signposted along all major approaches to the city. National Railway Museum parking can be found on Leeman Road, just a few minutes' walk from the main entrance. Parking costs £10 per day and the car park closes at 6.30pm. Tokens can be purchased at the main entrance to the museum.
  • Accessible parking spots for Blue Badge holders can be found just outside of the Railway Museum main entrance.
  • Alternatively, parking can be found at the NCP York Tanner Row car park or York Station South car park.
  • The National Railway Museum is just an eight-minute walk from York Station through the foot tunnel on Leeman Road or via the direct footbridge from the station (although please note that this is not suitable for buggies or wheelchair users). York Station services trains from most major cities in the country.
  • The Rawcliffe Park and Ride bus and the First's Number 10 bus both service the museum via Leeman Road. The bus stops are just a few minutes' walk to the National Railway Museum main entrance.
  • The York Railway Museum encourages cycling to its venue, and bike racks are available on site at the main entrance.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines
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