Aylesbury railway station
Aylesbury railway station is a railway station in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England. It is a major stop on the London–Aylesbury line from London Marylebone via Amersham. It is 38 miles (61 km) from Aylesbury to Marylebone. A branch line from Princes Risborough on the Chiltern Main Line terminates at the station. It was the terminus for London Underground's Metropolitan line until the service was cut back to Amersham in 1961. The station was also known as Aylesbury Town in British Rail days from circa 1948 until the 1960s.
|Local authority||District of Aylesbury Vale|
|Managed by||Chiltern Railways|
|Number of platforms||3|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Key dates||Opened 1 October 1863|
|Original company||Wycombe Railway|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Aylesbury from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
|UK Railways portal|
The first station on the site was opened in 1863 by the Wycombe Railway, which in 1867 was taken over by the Great Western Railway. In 1868 the Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway (later part of the Metropolitan Railway) reached Aylesbury.
When opened, the line to Aylesbury from Princes Risborough was broad gauge. To avoid mixed gauge track when the standard gauge Aylesbury and Buckingham arrived at the station in 1868, the section to Princes Risborough was converted to standard gauge, and therefore until the rest of the Wycombe Railway was converted in 1870 there was no access to the rest of the GWR system. The GWR provided motive power and trains to both the Wycombe Railway and the A&B, and ran a shuttle service from Princes Risborough to Verney Junction.
A broad gauge single-road engine shed was provided from the station's opening in 1863; the shed was doubled in length within a year or two, and in 1870 became a two-road shed with a lean-to added to the east side of the original shed. By 1892, with the arrival of the Metropolitan Railway, the shed was converted to a north-light two-road shed using the west wall of the original broad gauge shed and the east wall of the 1870 extension.
The Metropolitan Railway opened from Chalfont Road in 1892 to a separate station named Aylesbury (Brook Street) adjacent to the GWR station. It closed in 1894 when services were diverted to the GW station. The Great Central Railway reached Aylesbury in 1899 from Annesley Junction just north of Nottingham on its London extension line to London Marylebone.
Aylesbury Railway Disaster of 1904Edit
Because the station had been a terminus for the Metropolitan Railway the original junction layout on the route to London Marylebone included a sharp curve. This became inconvenient once some Great Central trains began to run non-stop through Aylesbury from 1899 onwards. Rather than change the junction layout to suit faster trains, a 15 mph (24 km/h) speed restriction was applied to the curve.
On 23 December 1904 at about 3:38 a.m. this curve was the site of the Aylesbury Railway Disaster. The 2:45 a.m. Great Central express newspaper train from London Marylebone consisting of a locomotive, tender, and ten vehicles—three coaches, an assortment of six fish, meat and parcel vans, and a brake van—failed to slow for the curve, and was completely derailed. The locomotive, tender, and the first three or four vehicles mounted the "down" platform of the station, two vehicles mounted the "up" platform, and the rest of the train was smashed to pieces and scattered over a distance of 50 yards (46 m) between the two platforms. The driver of the train, Joseph Barnshaw was seriously injured and died the next day. The fireman George Masters was killed as also were London-based driver David Summers and fireman Josiah Stanton who were travelling as passengers in the first coach on their way to Gorton, Manchester.
There was heavy fog at the time of the accident, and at the subsequent Board of Trade inquiry there was some doubt as to how well driver Barnshaw knew the route. What the inquiry did not touch on was that there had been a history of fast running of these newspaper trains, which had become an important traffic for the Great Central Railway. This dated back to the Boer War which had ended only two years earlier. The Manchester Guardian's stance on the Boer War had resulted in significant drops in circulation. London newspapers, led by the Daily Mail, saw a significant business opportunity in the Manchester area, and sought to get their morning newspapers to Manchester in time to win a share of this market. These trains recorded fast times for the era, including an authenticated timing of 220 minutes for the 206 miles (332 km) journey including stops.
Afterwards in 1908 the station was reconstructed and tracks at the curve were realigned.
The original station had one platform with a brick-built station building a canopy projected from the building over the platform supported on cast iron pillars. The cost of the station building was shared between the Wycombe Railway and the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway; the original plans are in Aylesbury local records office.
The current station buildings date from 1926, when the station was extensively rebuilt again—this time by the London and North Eastern Railway. Until nationalisation in 1948, Aylesbury station was operated by a joint committee whose constituents were also joint committees: the GWR & GCR Joint and the Metropolitan and GCR Joint; although the LNER had taken on the role of the former Great Central Railway in all three joint committees, these committees were not renamed.
Motive Power DepotEdit
The Wycombe Railway opened a single-road engine shed fifty feet in length to the west of the station in 1863. This was extended to the rear shortly after and enlarged to a two-road shed by the Great Western Railway in 1871, around 1893 the saw tooth roof was added on the original walls; it was closed on 16 June 1962 and was demolished in 1967.
A wooden water tank was positioned outside the locomotive shed from the station's opening, being replaced by a standard GWR water tank with decorative supports and coaling stage underneath in 1899; this itself was replaced by a Braithwaite tank in the mid-1950s.
The first mention of a locomotive at Aylesbury was of the broad-gauge loco Giraffe in 1863, a member of the Sun class.
1930s to the present dayEdit
Until 1966 Aylesbury was an intermediate station on the former Great Central Main Line between London Marylebone and Sheffield Victoria and on to Manchester London Road via the Woodhead Tunnel. Aylesbury was also on the Metropolitan Railway (later Metropolitan line) and through trains from Baker Street to Verney Junction operated until 1936. From 1948 to 1961 Aylesbury was the terminus of the Met's main line, on which trains had to change between electric and steam locomotives at Rickmansworth.[note 1] Following electrification from Rickmansworth to Amersham, Aylesbury was no longer served by London Underground trains. In 1966 British Railways closed the Great Central Main Line north of Aylesbury. Aylesbury was thus left with commuter services to London only. From the 1960s until the 1980s, passenger trains at Aylesbury were almost exclusively operated by British Rail Class 115 diesel multiple units.
By the 1980s the lines serving Aylesbury were in a poor state. Aylesbury station itself was run down and needed refurbishment. Network SouthEast decided to refurbish the lines out of Marylebone, and Aylesbury received a new waiting room, new toilets and better lighting. Platform 4 was closed and the car park was extended. A new driver's staff room was established on platform 3 and a new heavy maintenance depot was built just north of the station. Aylesbury became the headquarters of the operational side of the Chiltern Line. (For more information, see: Chiltern Line Modernisation)
On 14 December 2008 2 miles (3 km) of the line north of Aylesbury was reopened for passenger service, with regular passenger services running north of the station for the first time since 1966. This serves the new Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, which is situated on the northwestern outskirts of Aylesbury and is operated by Chiltern Railways.
Aylesbury station is laid out for through traffic, with hourly trains to/from Aylesbury Vale Parkway and waste freight trains to the landfill site at Calvert heading north. On selected days, usually bank holidays, special passenger services run to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road. In addition there is a major repair and maintenance depot just north of the station, and several sidings.
There are three platforms. Platform 3 gives access to Amersham and London Marylebone only, whilst platform 1 gives access to Princes Risborough and London Marylebone via High Wycombe only. Platform 2 can serve both routes. There used to be a bay platform (platform 4) that served as the terminus for Metropolitan trains and several freight sidings but the car park now lies on the trackbed and bike racks occupy the platform. The goods depot was to the west of the station and was demolished in the 1960s. Modern apartments now occupy the site.
The station is managed by Chiltern Railways, which has recently had automatic ticket gates installed. There are two FastTicket self-service ticket machines accepting cash and cards, a permit to travel machine and two ticket windows. There is a taxi rank outside the station. From 21 January 2008 the taxi rank was moved to the car park for 52 weeks as a result of major engineering work on the new Southcourt Bridge and the new Station Boulevard.
Seven first generation DMUs built in the late 1950s are based at Aylesbury. These units are jointly used by Chiltern Railways and Network Rail for route learning and Sandite duties. One unit is used solely for passenger services to and from Princes Risborough.
All three station platforms have step-free access, with access to platforms 1 and 2 via a pair of lifts.
A further expansion of rail services to Bletchley and Bedford is suggested in a consultants' report written to provide regional planning guidance to Bucks County Council concerning the development of Aylesbury Vale. As part of the East West Rail Link plan to restore the Varsity Line, these services would be extended from the current freight-only line north of Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Bletchley and terminate at Milton Keynes Central. The Department for Transport endorsed the scheme in November 2011, with opening planned for 2019. After it is completed, rail passengers between Aylesbury and the Midlands or the North will no longer need to travel via London or Princes Risborough.
Aylesbury may also feature in the Croxley Rail Link project which envisages re-routing part of the London Underground Metropolitan line to Watford Junction. Proposals also exist to start direct rail services between Watford Junction and Aylesbury via Rickmansworth and Amersham.
Train services to London are usually via Amersham on the London to Aylesbury Line. Passengers can travel via Princes Risborough and change to a service on the Chiltern Main Line, but this takes longer. Late at night and on Sundays, some services run direct to Marylebone via the Princes Risborough and Chiltern Main Line route, without the need to change.
At peak times there are up to five trains per hour to London in the morning and from London in the evening. Some of these are expresses, which do not serve stations shared with the Metropolitan line nearer to London. The typical service pattern is as follows:
- 2 trains per hour to/from London via Amersham (plus 1 train per hour express service to London in morning, and from London in evening peak) (1 train per hour extends north to Aylesbury Vale Parkway)
- 1 train per hour to/from Princes Risborough
- 2 trains per hour to/from London via Amersham (1 train per hour is extended north to Aylesbury Vale Parkway)
- 1 train per hour to/from Princes Risborough
- 1 train per hour to/from London via Amersham (All trains terminate at Aylesbury Vale Parkway on Sundays)
- 1 train per hour to/from London via Princes Risborough
During Bank Holidays in Spring and Summer there is a frequent shuttle service to Quainton Road.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
|Aylesbury Vale Parkway||Chiltern Railways
London to Aylesbury Line
Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line
Line and station closed
|Great Central Railway
Line and station open
|Preceding station||London Underground||Following station|
Verney Jnct Branch 1896-1936
|Quainton Road||Metropolitan line
Aylesbury bus station is a two-minute walk from the station. Buses, the majority of which are operated by Arriva Shires & Essex, depart to several destinations across Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, including Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Tring, Watford, Luton and Leighton Buzzard. Bus departure times are displayed on screens outside the rail station's departure lounge as well as at the bus station itself.
The Aylesbury - Princes Risborough rail link offers connections to High Wycombe, Bicester, Banbury and Birmingham. This route was greatly improved by "Project Evergreen" - the re-dualing and speeding-up of Marylebone - Risborough - Birmingham track and services. Since 2015 Risborough has also had access to direct Oxford trains via a new junction at Bicester Town.
- Initially at least, the Metropolitan Railway labelled its line from Bishop's Road Paddington to Farringdon as the 'main line' and the line through St John's Wood and Swiss Cottage northwards as the 'branch'. Although the former lengthened to form the Hammersmith and City, running from Hammersmith to Barking, the latter had the characteristics of a main line railway in the twentieth century, with locomotive-hauled trains of large bogie carriages, including Pullman cars for a time, running to Chesham, Aylesbury and Verney Junction.
- Borley, H.V. Chronology of London Railways.[full citation needed]
- Yorke, Lt. Col. H.A. (3 April 1905). Metropolitan and Great Western Joint Railway (pdf). London: Board of Trade. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Marsden, Richard. "The Pollitt Class D6 (GCR Class 11A) 4-4-0 Locomotives". The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) Encyclopaedia.
- Griffiths, Roger; Smith, Paul (1999). The directory of British engine sheds: 1. Oxford Publishing Co. p. 118. ISBN 0-86093-542-6.
- "AYLESBURY VALE 2026 - ADVICE ON SUBMISSIONS TO THE REVIEW OF RPG9" (PDF). Buckinghamshire County Council. October 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- "Disappointment as East West Rail delayed by two years". Bucks Herald. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- Wood, John (March 2006). "Hertfordshire's Local Transport Plan 2006/07 – 2010/1" (PDF). Hertfordshire County Council. p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
- "Chiltern Railways". Rail Saver. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2008.
If the Croxley Rail link gets the go ahead from Tfl and Hertfordshire County Council, direct services into Watford junction from Aylesbury will be likely...
- Table 114 National Rail timetable, May 2016
- Table 115 National Rail timetable, May 2016
- Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.
- Jowett, Alan (2000). Jowett's Nationalised Railway Atlas (1st ed.). Penryn, Cornwall: Atlantic Transport Publishers. ISBN 978-0-906899-99-1. OCLC 228266687.
- Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-086-0. OCLC 22311137.