Colchester railway station

(Redirected from 1913 Colchester rail crash)

Colchester railway station (also known as Colchester North) is on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) in the East of England, and is the primary station serving the city of Colchester, Essex. Its three-letter station code is COL. It is 51 miles 52 chains (83.1 km) down the line from London Liverpool Street and on the GEML is situated between Marks Tey to the west and Manningtree to the east. Colchester is also the location of a major junction where the GEML links to the Sunshine Coast Line, which runs south to Clacton-on-Sea and, via a short branch, to Walton-on-the-Naze; services to and from Colchester Town also join the GEML at the Colchester junction. The junction is grade-separated so trains branching to and from Colchester Town or the Sunshine Coast Line do not cross the main line.

National Rail
2013 at Colchester - up side buildings.jpg
The old station building, which is now the rear entrance
General information
LocationColchester, Borough of Colchester
Coordinates51°54′02.23″N 0°53′34.27″E / 51.9006194°N 0.8928528°E / 51.9006194; 0.8928528Coordinates: 51°54′02.23″N 0°53′34.27″E / 51.9006194°N 0.8928528°E / 51.9006194; 0.8928528
Grid referenceTL990263
Managed byGreater Anglia
Other information
Station codeCOL
ClassificationDfT category B
Original companyEastern Counties Railway
Pre-groupingGreat Eastern Railway
Post-groupingLondon and North Eastern Railway
Key dates
29 March 1843 (1843-03-29)Opened
2017/18Decrease 4.379 million
 Interchange Increase 0.538 million
2018/19Increase 4.453 million
 Interchange Increase 0.602 million
2019/20Decrease 4.249 million
 Interchange Decrease 0.591 million
2020/21Decrease 1.029 million
 Interchange Decrease 0.129 million
2021/22Increase 2.913 million
 Interchange Increase 0.391 million
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road

Colchester station was opened in 1843 by the Eastern Counties Railway. It is currently managed by Greater Anglia, which also operates all trains serving the station.


Colchester railway station in 1851, before its rebuilding in 1865
A train from Cambridge at Colchester in 1951

The station was opened on 29 March 1843 by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) and was named simply as Colchester.[1] Locally, however, it is also known as Colchester North to distinguish it from Colchester Town station. Buses also use this unofficial name. Colchester station is not particularly conveniently sited for the city, but buses connect to the city centre. Colchester Town station is closer to the city centre (hence its name).

The ECR had planned to build a line from London to Norwich using a very similar route to that on which the Great Eastern Main Line operates today,[2] but funding became a problem and apart from surveying a section onwards to Ardleigh, they were forced to abandon any further line construction.[3]

It was three years later when the onward link to Ipswich was eventually opened by the Eastern Union Railway following intervention by business interests in Ipswich, the city having felt isolated by development of the railway to Norwich via Cambridge by the ECR.[4]

As passenger numbers passing through the station increased, particularly with growth on the Sunshine Coast Line, the layout of the station became inadequate. This problem was heightened on summer weekends when large numbers of holiday trains destined for Clacton-on-Sea were added to the schedules. The station had also been built on a relatively sharp curve.

Prior to electrification of the lines, Colchester was modernised in 1962, with a new station building on the north side of the tracks. Following the reconstruction, the station has two main platforms. The "up" (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end.[5] However, with the unusual layout of platforms, Colchester station gains the longest physical platform in the UK as the entire length (from platform 3 to 4) measures at 620 m (2034 ft) [Gloucester station has the longest unbroken platform at 1977 ft]. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. There are also bay platforms at both ends of the up main platform. The London-end bay (platform 6) is used for peak trains to and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. The other bay platform (platform 5) is used for services to Colchester Town and Walton-on-the-Naze. The "down" side platform is an island platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.

The main ticket office is a modern glass-fronted design, sited on the north side of the station, and access to the platforms is via a subway. The previous station building is on the south side and provides access to the up platform for those with tickets or wanting to buy tickets from a machine. To the side of the main ticket office, there is a taxi rank, as well as multiple bus stops. Both entrances to the station have automatic ticket gates.

Former train operating company Anglia Railways operated services known as London Crosslink from Norwich to Basingstoke via Stratford. This service started in 2000 and ended in 2002.


  • On 12 July 1913, at approximately 3 pm, an express passenger train travelling at high speed collided with a light engine at Colchester due to a signalman's error.[6] Part of the passenger train was derailed. The train's driver, guard and fireman were killed and 14 passengers were injured.[7] The locomotive of the express – no. 1506 of Class S69 – was so badly damaged that it was scrapped.[8]
  • On 20 December 1990, Class 312 electric multiple unit 312 714 was derailed whilst working a Clacton-on-Sea to London Liverpool Street service.[9]


Two trains at Colchester station

Trains are operated by Greater Anglia. The typical off-peak service comprises:[10]


  1. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 65. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508.
  2. ^ Allen, Cecil J. (1955). The Great Eastern Railway. Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd. p. 4.
  3. ^ Allen 1955, p. 24
  4. ^ Allen 1955, p. 26
  5. ^ Colchester station plan:
  6. ^ Simon Webb (31 January 2013). The Colchester Book of Days. Perseus Books Group. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-0-7524-8908-7.
  7. ^ Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 25. ISBN 0-906899-03-6.
  8. ^ Allen 1955, p. 144
  9. ^ McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "January 1990 to December 1990". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  10. ^ Table 11 National Rail timetable, May 2019

External linksEdit

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Greater Anglia
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Historical railways
Anglia Railways