Chester railway station

Chester railway station is located in Newtown, Chester, England. Services are operated by Avanti West Coast, Merseyrail, Northern and Transport for Wales. From 1875 to 1969, the station was known as Chester General to distinguish it from Chester Northgate.[1] The station's Italianate frontage was designed by the architect Francis Thompson.

National Rail Merseyrail
The front of Chester railway station
General information
LocationStation Road, Chester
Coordinates53°11′48″N 2°52′47″W / 53.1968°N 2.8798°W / 53.1968; -2.8798
Grid referenceSJ413669
Owned byNetwork Rail
Operated byTransport for Wales
Transit authorityMerseytravel (for Merseyrail services only)
Other information
Station codeCTR
Fare zoneG1
ClassificationDfT category B
Key dates
1875Renamed Chester General
1969Renamed Chester
1972Chester General rail crash
2018/19Increase 4.972 million
 Interchange Increase 0.831 million
2019/20Increase 5.093 million
 Interchange Decrease 0.763 million
2020/21Decrease 1.058 million
 Interchange Decrease 0.137 million
2021/22Increase 3.443 million
 Interchange Increase 0.573 million
2022/23Increase 4.122 million
 Interchange Increase 0.689 million
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail & Road

Work on a £10 million regeneration scheme, the Chester Renaissance programme[2] was completed in 2007; the development includes a new roof, improved customer facilities and improved access to the station. A plaque commemorating Thomas Brassey is installed on the wall opposite the booking office. The station marks one end of the Baker Way; this is a footpath leading to Delamere railway station.

Scheduled services from Chester station are operated by Avanti West Coast to London Euston and Holyhead; Merseyrail to Liverpool Central; Northern to Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds; and Transport for Wales to Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Airport, Crewe, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Llandudno and Holyhead.[3][4]

History edit

Background and construction edit

On 23 September 1840, the first station at Chester was opened by the Chester and Birkenhead Railway (CBR). One week later, on 1 October 1840, the Grand Junction Railway (GJR) opened a separate station. Neither station was open for long, due to the inconvenience of transferring goods and passengers between them. They were replaced by the new joint station[5] at the junction between the CBR, GJR and Robert Stephenson's new Chester and Holyhead Railway (CHR) which started at the joint station. The station was designed by the architect Francis Thompson, and constructed by Thomas Brassey.[6] The engineer C. H. Wild designed the train shed. Elements of the overall design were produced by other engineers, including Stephenson.[7]

On 1 August 1847, construction of the station began, the foundation stone was laid by Brassey. It was built by a workforce of around 2,000 people, including bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters, roofers, plumbers and other skilled and unskilled workers. On 1 August 1848, Chester Station was officially opened, exactly a year after construction began. The opening was met with great acclaim amongst the city's populace due to the wide range of destinations that could be reached for the first time.[5]

The station building is built of Staffordshire blue brick and pale grey Storeton sandstone with slate roofs[7][8] in the Italianate style.[8] It has a 305-metre two-storey façade with a 15-bay central section and 5-bay lateral projecting pavilions, each of which have two towers.[6] A large clock, manufactured by J. B. Joyce & Co on the front of the station was originally located centrally, but was moved to the western half of the facade following the construction of the Queen Hotel, which obscured it. The central section's middle seven bays contain carvings by sculptor John Thomas.[7] Several carved wooden owls occupy locations in the roof beams above platform 4 to deter feral pigeons from roosting.[5]

As first built, the station had a single through platform, a pair of bay platforms, and the main building. Early on, it became highly trafficked, partially due to its position as a junction between multiple lines and railway companies. In its first few decades of opening, it was expanded via the construction of sidings, warehouses, signalboxes and two motive power depots to service steam locomotives that belonged to different railway companies. To accommodate the increasing number of passengers and freight in the 1860s and 1870s, the station was extended again. Two island platforms, two bay platforms, and additional facilities connected via a footbridge to the existing station were completed by 1890.[5]

Operations edit

From its opening on 1 August 1848, Chester was a joint station used by the Chester and Holyhead, Grand Junction, the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway and the Chester and Birkenhead Railways. The C&HR and GJR merged with other companies to form the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). In 1850 the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Junction Railway built a line from Chester to near Warrington, later absorbing the C&BR. The S&CR was later merged with others into the Great Western Railway (GWR). The LNWR and the GWR later acquired the BL&CJR jointly.[6]

Chester Station was served by GWR express passenger trains (and subsequently by the Western Region of British Railways) from Birkenhead Woodside via Chester, Wrexham, Ruabon, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Wellington (Shropshire), Wolverhampton, Birmingham Snow Hill, Leamington Spa and Banbury to London Paddington until 4 March 1967.[9] The final service, a special The Zulu, was hauled by 7029 Clun Castle.[9]

A 1903 Railway Clearing House Junction Diagram showing railways in the vicinity of Chester (centre, shown as GENERAL STA.)

During 1875, Chester Northgate railway station was opened by the Cheshire Lines Committee. To prevent confusion between the stations, the older station was renamed "Chester General". In 1969, as a result of the Beeching cuts, Chester Northgate was closed and Chester General reverted to Chester.[6]

Peak activity was during the Edwardian era when more than 200 trains called at the station daily and more than one hundred staff were employed.[5] Large quantities of freight were also moved, including the Royal Mail's letters and parcels business. Special excursion trains were laid on for Chester Races. During the First World War, troop trains used the station when moving military personnel from training camps in North Wales to the Western Front.[5]

During the interwar period, the station was busy, only slightly affected by the rise of road transportation. Trams, and later buses linked the station to the city and its suburbs. During the Second World War, the station saw a high volume of traffic, including trains hauling ammunition. It survived the conflict unscathed, sustaining no direct hits but to mitigate against aerial attacks, a concrete bunker was built to house signalling equipment.[5]

In January 2016, according to the Office of Rail and Road, passenger numbers doubled over the previous ten years, making Chester the eighth-busiest station in the North-West region. The rise was attributed to new services, such as direct trains to London and increased frequencies on the Merseyrail network.[10]

Starting in 2005, the station was restored in the Chester Renaissance Project. Improvements made by Network Rail included groundworks around the east end frontage and repairs to the façade's east and west wings, renewal of the roof's glazing, enhancements to the train shed and other general improvements.[6] Improved local traffic management and access to the station was achieved by alterations to Station Square which were completed in December 2007. Architectural lighting was installed in strategic areas and a new concourse was opened by Arriva Trains Wales in October 2008. Between 2009 and 2010, improvements included a second staircase to access the island platform, structural repairs to platforms, restoration of the overbridge and work to enhance the station's frontage.[6]

The station is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a Grade II* listed building.[8] It is one of 22 Grade I or II* listed railway stations in England.[6] A plaque commemorating Thomas Brassey was installed on the wall opposite the booking office. Brassey was born at Buerton 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Chester.[11]

Extensions and redoubling initiatives edit

In 1993, an extension to the Wirral Line received third rail electrification on existing track and Chester became its terminus. Its trains use Platform 7 the only one with access to the third rail.[5] The line provides frequent rapid access to the Wirral, Birkenhead and all four underground stations in central Liverpool. The historic Chester and Birkenhead Railway, the first railway to serve Chester, became a part of Merseyrail's Wirral Line.[citation needed]

In April 2017, Network Rail and contractors completed the redoubling of the Wrexham to Chester line enabling increased line speeds up to 90 mph on certain sections. When the work was completed, there were no plans to increase speeds or introduce new services until late 2017 at the earliest.[12][13]

Halton Curve reopening edit

In 2014, George Osborne announced funding to finance the Halton Curve's redevelopment to permit services between Liverpool and North Wales via Liverpool South Parkway and Chester.[14][15] The 30-year plan for the curve included connections to South Wales.[16] The services started running in May 2019[17] and now provide Chester with a direct link to Liverpool Airport and an alternative route to central Liverpool.[18]

Stationmasters edit

  • William Paget ca. 1847
  • Mr. Jones ca. 1849
  • John Critchley ca. 1850–1855[19] (afterwards superintendent of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway)
  • Charles Mills ca. 1859–1872[20]
  • David Meldrum 1872–1882[21]
  • W. Thorne 1882[22]–1890 (formerly station master at Hereford Barrs Court)
  • John Thomas Reddish 1890–1902[23]
  • W.G. Marrs 1903–1909[24]
  • John Ratcliffe 1910[25]–1926
  • Robert McNaught 1926[26]–1932
  • Lewis Evans 1932[27] 1934
  • A.E. Mawson 1934[28]–1942 (formerly station master at Woodside)
  • John Moore 1943–1950 (formerly station master at Birkenhead Dock)
  • Percy Jackson 1950[29]–1955
  • Eric L Thompson 1955[30]–1963 (formerly station master at Bedford)
  • Kenneth Conyers Winterton 1963–1964[31]
  • Mr. Mapstone ca. 1967 ca. 1969

Services edit

A KeolisAmey Wales Class 175 and Avanti West Coast Class 221 at Chester in January 2020

Platform 1

  • 1 train per hour (tph) operated by Transport for Wales to Crewe, which gives a near half-hourly (xx.35 Avanti & xx.55 TfW) service, in conjunction with Avanti West Coast's service.

Platform 3

  • 1tph operated by Transport for Wales to Llandudno, via Llandudno Junction.[32]
  • 1tph operated by Transport for Wales to Holyhead, via Bangor.
  • 1tph operated by Transport for Wales to Wrexham General and Shrewsbury of which one every two hours continues to Cardiff Central and one every two hours continues to Birmingham International.
  • Y Gerallt Gymro, a Monday to Friday daily limited-stop express north to Holyhead, operated by Transport for Wales.
  • Certain trains from London Euston, operated by Avanti West Coast, continue to Bangor and Holyhead}; 1 train per weekday continues to Wrexham General.
  • Occasional services from Crewe operated by Avanti West Coast and terminating at Chester, Holyhead or Bangor.

Platform 4

Platforms 5/6

A Northern Rail British Rail Class 150 at Chester

Platform 7

Merseyrail map with Chester to the south of the Network
  • 4tph operated by Merseyrail to the Liverpool Central Loop via Birkenhead during peak times on weekdays and Saturdays. On late evenings and Sundays, the frequency is every 30 minutes.[36] Merseyrail services to Birkenhead and Liverpool use platform 7b or 7a; platform 7 is the only third-rail equipped platform. These services are provided by Class 507 and Class 777 EMUs.

Table of services edit

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Crewe   Avanti West Coast
Holyhead/Bangor–London Euston
Crewe   Avanti West Coast
Wrexham General–London Euston
  Wrexham General
Crewe   Avanti West Coast
Chester–London Euston
Terminus   Merseyrail
Wirral Line
Chester Branch
towards Liverpool Central
Mouldsworth   Northern Trains
Mid-Cheshire Line
Warrington Bank Quay   Northern Trains
Chester/Ellesmere Port - Leeds
Crewe   Transport for Wales Rail
North Wales Coast Line
Helsby   Transport for Wales Rail
Chester to Manchester Line
Wrexham General   Transport for Wales Rail
Birmingham – Holyhead via Chester
  Transport for Wales Rail
Cardiff Central to Holyhead
Helsby   Transport for Wales Rail
Halton Curve
    Wrexham General
  Historical railways  
Line open, station closed
  London and North Western Railway
Chester and Holyhead Railway
Terminus   GWR & LNWR
Chester and Birkenhead Railway
Line open, station closed
Disused railways
Saltney Ferry
Line and station closed
  London and North Western Railway
Mold Railway
Railway lines in Chester
Roodee Junction

Future edit

Northern Franchise Requirements edit

Under the Northern franchise, Arriva Rail North (branded 'Northern') must fulfil the following requirements:

  • From December 2017, an extra hourly train from Chester to Leeds, via Warrington Bank Quay, Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria and then either Dewsbury or Bradford (via the Calder Valley)[37] operated by new 100 mph diesel trains from 2019.[3][38]
  • On the Manchester Piccadilly to Chester via Northwich line, Sunday services will operate hourly in both directions (up from two hourly).[39]
  • The franchise requires the removal and replacement of all Pacer trains by 2020.[37]

The Chester to Leeds route via Manchester Victoria was finally introduced on 20 May 2019, eighteen months later than initially planned.[40]

Layout and facilities edit

The station has seven platforms. Platform 1 is a bay platform located at the east end (a second one alongside it is no longer utilised for passenger traffic but can be used for stock stabling). Platform 2 at the western end is another bay platform. Platform 3 is a through bi-directional platform and is closest to the concourse; it is split into sections 3a and 3b although on occasions a train will use the middle of the platform.

Over the bridge – or by way of lifts – is the island platform. Opposite Platform 3 is Platform 4, another through bi-directional platform, with sections designated as 4a and 4b. There are two east facing bays (Platforms 5 and 6). Platform 7 is an additional through platform, the only one with third-rail electrification; it is split into 'a' (eastern) and 'b' (western) sections and thus capable of accommodating two trains at once.[41]

The station has a booking office and is staffed 15 minutes before and after the first and last train. There is a payphone, vending machine, booking office and live departure and arrival screens, for passenger information. The station has lifts and is fully accessible for disabled users. There is a car park with 83 spaces and cycle racks for 68 cycles.[42]

Accidents edit

  • On 4 July 1949, a Derby to Llandudno passenger train ran into the rear of a Crewe to Holyhead passenger service, resulting in fifty injured people.[43]
  • Chester General rail crash: On 8 May 1972, a freight train suffered a brake failure and collided with a diesel multiple unit at Chester General station and caught fire, causing severe damage to the building and the trains involved.[44]
  • On 20 November 2013, a Class 221 Super Voyager diesel-electric multiple unit from London Euston to Chester collided with the buffer stops on platform 1, riding up over them and smashing a glass screen. There were no injuries, although one passenger was taken to hospital for checks. A Rail Accident Investigation Branch report stated that the incident was due to exceptionally slippery rails, but that the consequences of this were made more severe by the buffer stop being of an older design, which did not absorb the impact energy effectively. The report further stated that that particular stop had not undergone a risk assessment within the previous ten years, and was possibly not appropriate for class 221 units.[45][46]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Slater, J.N., ed. (July 1974). "Notes and News: Western's last "General"". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 120, no. 879. London: IPC Transport Press Ltd. p. 361. ISSN 0033-8923.
  2. ^ "The Renaissance Projects". The Chester Renaissance. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Northern franchise improvements". p. Chester to Leeds. Archived from the original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Arriva Trains Wales to extend number of services to Manchester Airport". Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Whittingham, John. "A Short History of Chester Railway Station". Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Chester Station". Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Hartwell, Clare; Hyde, Matthew; Hubbard, Edward; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2011) [1971], Cheshire, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 249, ISBN 978-0-300-17043-6
  8. ^ a b c Historic England. "Chester railway station (1375937)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  9. ^ a b Hendry, R. Preston; Hendry, R. Powell (1992). Paddington to the Mersey. Oxford Publishing Company. p. 116. ISBN 9780860934424. OCLC 877729237.
  10. ^ Holmes, David (29 January 2016). "Chester Railway Station sees passenger numbers double in 10 years". Chester Chronicle.
  11. ^ Helps, Arthur (2006) [1872], The Life and Works of Mr Brassey, Stroud: Nonsuch, p. 25, ISBN 1-84588-011-0
  12. ^ "Delayed Wrexham to Chester rail work to begin in 2017". BBC News. 10 August 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  13. ^ Williams, Kelly (5 April 2017). "Wrexham to Chester railway line upgrade finally complete after major delays".
  14. ^ "Chancellor announces £10.4m to redevelop Halton Curve rail line". Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Halton Curve to be reinstated with £10.4m upgrade". Chester Chronicle. 3 July 2014.
  16. ^ Shennan, Paddy (28 August 2014). "Merseytravel plan to open or reopen host of new stations". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  17. ^ "Halton Curve: Rail line links north Wales and Liverpool". 19 May 2019.
  18. ^ "New Chester to Liverpool rail service - more details released". 3 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Mr. Critchley's Testimonial". Chester Courant. England. 24 January 1855. Retrieved 22 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  20. ^ "Railway news". Eastern Morning News. England. 16 September 1872. Retrieved 22 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  21. ^ "Railway Appointment". Chester Courant. England. 6 September 1882. Retrieved 22 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  22. ^ "Mr. W. Thorne". Hereford Times. England. 30 September 1882. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  23. ^ "Death of Mr. T.J. Reddish, Prestatyn". Flintshire County Herald. England. 20 May 1921. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  24. ^ "Mr. Marrs Retirement". Cheshire Observer. England. 2 April 1910. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  25. ^ "New Stationmaster at Chester". Shrewsbury Chronicle. England. 7 January 1910. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  26. ^ "Chester's New Stationmaster". Crewe Chronicle. England. 4 December 1926. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  27. ^ "New Chester Stationmaster". Liverpool Echo. England. 13 June 1932. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  28. ^ "Local Notes". Cheshire Observer. England. 14 April 1934. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  29. ^ "Chester's Stationmaster". Liverpool Echo. England. 6 October 1950. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  30. ^ "Chester Stationmaster". Liverpool Echo. England. 4 November 1955. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  31. ^ "Last man to wear top hat at station". Crewe Chronicle. England. 30 December 1971. Retrieved 21 August 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  32. ^ GB National Rail Timetable 2019, Table 81
  33. ^ GB NRT 2019, Tables 65 & 81
  34. ^ GB NRT, Table 88
  35. ^ GB NRT, Tables 41 and 81
  36. ^ "Wirral Line timetable" (PDF). Merseyrail. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  37. ^ a b "Northern Rail Franchise TransPennine Express Rail Franchise: Stakeholder Briefing Document and Consultation Response" (PDF). Rail Executive. February 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  38. ^ "Your Service". Arriva Northern. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  39. ^ "Northern Franchise Improvements". Archived from the original on 11 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  40. ^ "Rail industry confirms new summer 2019 timetable". 7 March 2019. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  41. ^ "Dudley Mall's Railway Directory - Chester to Hereford & Cardiff". Dudley Mall. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  42. ^ "Chester train station | timetable | ticket prices & facilities". Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  43. ^ "Report on the Collision which occurred on 4th July, 1949, at Chester Station in the London Midland Region British Railways" (PDF). Railways Archive. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  44. ^ "Report on the Derailment and consequent Fire on 8th May 1972 at Chester General Station in the London Midland Region British Railways" (PDF). Railways Archive. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  45. ^ "Train crashes into Chester Station barrier". BBC News Online. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  46. ^ "Buffer stop collision at Chester station 20 November 2013" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. November 2014. pp. 5, 9, 29–30, 37. Retrieved 24 November 2014.

Further reading edit

External links edit