Milton Keynes Central railway station

Milton Keynes Central railway station serves Central Milton Keynes and the surrounding area of Milton Keynes, England. The station is located on the West Coast Main Line about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of London. The station is served by Avanti West Coast intercity services, and by West Midlands Trains and Southern regional services.

Milton Keynes Central National Rail
Station Square, showing the frontage to Milton Keynes Central. Bus stops are in the foreground, with local and long distance buses visible.
PlaceCentral Milton Keynes
Local authorityBorough of Milton Keynes
Coordinates52°02′06″N 0°46′23″W / 52.035°N 0.773°W / 52.035; -0.773Coordinates: 52°02′06″N 0°46′23″W / 52.035°N 0.773°W / 52.035; -0.773
Grid referenceSP841380
Station codeMKC
Managed byLondon Northwestern Railway
Owned byNetwork Rail
Number of platforms7 (numbered 1–2, 2A, 3–6)
DfT categoryB
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2014/15Increase 6.649 million
2015/16Increase 6.836 million
2016/17Increase 6.851 million
2017/18Decrease 6.824 million
2018/19Increase 7.039 million
Original companyBritish Rail
17 May 1982Opened
29 December 2008Platforms 2A and 6 added
National RailUK railway stations
  • Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Milton Keynes Central from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

This station is one of the six stations serving the Milton Keynes urban area.[a] Milton Keynes Central, which opened on 17 May 1982,[1] is by far the busiest and most important of these, as well as being the largest in terms of platforms in use, having overtaken Bletchley when platforms 2A and 6 became operational.

History and developmentEdit

The station lobby, with the huge National Rail logo above the entrance

A new station for Milton KeynesEdit

A new station to delimit the western end of the new central business district of Milton Keynes was a key objective for Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC).[2] In the cash-strapped circumstances of the mid 1970s, British Rail (BR) was unenthusiastic but eventually came round after a deal was done in 1978 on cost sharing.[2] In 1979, MKDC architect Stuart Mosscrop designed the station building and office blocks to either side,[2] framing a new Station Square and the vista uphill along Midsummer Boulevard (and the midsummer sunrise).[3]


BR brought the station into operation on 14 May 1982 in an official ceremony with full public opening by Charles, Prince of Wales three days later.[4][2] The adjacent office wings were completed three years later.[2] Before it opened, Bletchley railway station was the main station for Milton Keynes, served by British Rail InterCity services. These services moved to the new station, downgrading Bletchley.

2006–08 developmentsEdit

In May 2006, the Department of Transport announced a plan to upgrade the station.[5] The first phase added a down fast line platform 6, so that the existing platform 5 could be used for stopping express trains in either direction. The second phase provided an additional terminating bay platform (2A), nominally to extend the Marston Vale Line Bedford/Bletchley service via the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Milton Keynes Central. This 5-car bay platform is indented into platform 1. The original platform 1 line was extended northwards from 'bay' to 'through' (becoming the up slow line), and platform 2 line is now a 'centre' terminating and reversing line, avoiding conflicting crossing movements. This work was completed on 29 December 2008. As of January 2019, a direct service between Bedford and Milton Keynes is not in any published plan, being overtaken by later events (see next).

Platforms and layoutEdit

The main body of Milton Keynes Central, showing the triple island platform layout and the footbridge. The large station building provides the backdrop. Platform 6 is closest to the camera.

Milton Keynes Central has a total of seven platforms. Platforms 1 and 3 are the south and northbound slow platforms, while 4 and 6 are the south and northbound fast platforms. Platforms 2 and 5 are reversible, being slow and fast respectively. Platform 2 is used mainly by terminating services from London Euston or East Croydon, whilst platforms 1 and 3 are used by West Midlands Trains services between Euston and Northampton, Birmingham New Street or Crewe. Platforms 4, 5 and 6 are used by Avanti West Coast inter-city express services between London and the West Midlands, north Wales, the north-west or Scotland.

Platform 2A is a five-car south-facing bay platform originally intended for the extension of Marston Vale Line services from Bedford into Milton Keynes Central: this proposal no longer appears in plans for East West Rail, being replaced by a planned service to/from Oxford or Aylesbury (see below). Meanwhile, platform 2A is used only by exception when additional platform capacity is needed, such as when there is a service delay. To the north of the station the six lines reduce to four (two slow and two fast) and there is a mile of five-track running to the south before this also reduces back to four.

The station is generally accessible: there are no unavoidable steps and there are lifts from the concourse to each platform. As with all mainline railway stations, passengers with mobility limitations may need to pre-book assistance to get from the platform to the train.[6] Ticket gates are in operation.

Local facilities and interchangeEdit

The station building has a shop and café. There are other shops and restaurants on the south side of the station square. There are a number of hotels on Midsummer Boulevard (which begins opposite the station and leads up into the central business district).

The station forecourt is the terminus or key intermediate destination for many bus services; almost all local and district bus services stop there. These services are operated mostly by Arriva Shires & Essex as well as some routes by Stagecoach East and a number of independent operators. Numerous bus services each hour traverse Midsummer Boulevard, connecting the station to the shopping centre, the theatre and Xscape. There is a public toilet in this area.

Stagecoach East operate four major long-distance coach routes from here. Their route 99 express service runs to Luton Airport via Luton railway station, providing a direct link between the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line.[7] Route X5 route between Oxford and Cambridge stops here, as do their X4 and X7 interurban bus routes to Northampton, Leicester and Peterborough. Arriva Shires & Essex also operate route X60 to Aylesbury, which terminates at the station.[8] However, National Express services run from the Milton Keynes Coachway, about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) away, served from this station by the 300 bus or the X5.

The Milton Keynes redway system, a comprehensive network of cycle/pedestrian shared use paths, connects to the station and its cycle parking facilities.

Also in the station forecourt, there is a taxi rank (to the left) and a pick-up space for private hire cars (to the right), plus limited (very) short term parking. There is a multi-storey car-park to the north of the station. Parking in the surrounding streets is heavily restricted to discourage commuter parking.

The station square itself is a favourite site for skateboarding and freestyle BMX and as a result the granite facings of the planting surrounds have suffered from the continuous bumping and grinding. This has lessened somewhat since the opening of a dedicated skateboarding park (Sk8 MK) close to the former central bus station.[9][10]


West Midlands Trains (London Northwestern Railway)Edit

Milton Keynes Central is a principal start and terminus for West Midlands Trains plc's 'London Northwestern Railway' services to/from London Euston, and a major stop on others terminating/initiating at Northampton, Crewe or Birmingham New Street. During off-peak daytime hours, WMT/NWR operate five departures per hour to Euston, two trains per hour to Birmingham New Street (via Northampton), one train per hour to Crewe, and one train per hour that terminates at Northampton. There are additional WMT/NWR services during the rush hour.[11]

Avanti West CoastEdit

Avanti West Coast stops many of its inter-city services here, with three calls an hour in each direction off-peak on weekdays. Southbound services are to London Euston, northbound services are to Glasgow/Edinburgh via Birmingham New Street, to Manchester Piccadilly and to Chester (with certain trains extending to Bangor and Holyhead for ferry connections to Dun Laoghaire or to Dublin Port). Additional services operate in the morning peak and evening peaks to and from Liverpool Lime Street, Preston, Glasgow Central (via Trent Valley Line), Wolverhampton and other destinations.[11]


Southern's West London Route provides an hourly service via the West London Line and Brighton Main Line to East Croydon (via Clapham Junction), avoiding central London. Onward connections to Gatwick Airport and Brighton are available from Clapham Junction.

Future servicesEdit

East West RailEdit

From 2025, services are planned to operate (over a rebuilt East West Rail line) to Oxford via Bletchley, calling at Winslow and Bicester Village.[12][13] This work will reopen Claydon Junction and thus the route to London Marylebone via Aylesbury and High Wycombe. A desire to extend services to Cambridge and beyond remains unfulfilled because it depends on a new alignment eastwards from Bedford to Cambridge. In January 2020, the East West Rail Ltd. announced the preferred route.[14]

Grand CentralEdit

In June 2018, the Office of Rail & Road approved an application by Alliance Rail Holdings for five services per day between London Euston and Blackpool North, calling at Milton Keynes Central.[15] These services are to be operated by sister Arriva company Grand Central, planned to commence in 'early 2021'.[16][17]

Service summaryEdit

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Wolverton or
  London Northwestern Railway
WCML London Commuter Services
  Bletchley or
Leighton Buzzard
Rugby   London Northwestern Railway
WCML Crewe – London
  London Euston
Wolverton   London Northwestern Railway
WCML Birmingham – London
  Bletchley or
Watford Junction
Coventry   Avanti West Coast
WCML Glasgow/Edinburgh – London
  London Euston
Crewe   Avanti West Coast
WCML North Wales – London
  London Euston
Stoke-on-Trent   Avanti West Coast
WCML Manchester/Liverpool – London
  London Euston
Terminus   Southern
WLR Milton Keynes Central – South Croydon
  Future services  
Terminus   East West Rail
Milton Keynes Central – Oxford and Reading
Terminus   East West Rail
Milton Keynes Central – London Marylebone
Nuneaton   Grand Central
WCML Blackpool Branch
  London Euston


Milton Keynes Central zoom in
Mapping © OpenStreetMap

The station is at the western end of Central Milton Keynes, near the junction of the A5 with the A509. The nearest post-code is MK9 1BB.[18] In the chainage notation traditionally used on the railway, its location on the line is 49 miles 65 chains (49.81 mi; 80.17 km) from Euston.[19]

In filmEdit

The station and its plaza were used in the movie Superman IV: The Quest for Peace as a substitute for the United Nations building. Other scenes were shot in the Central Milton Keynes area.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 160. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e Bendixson, Terence; Platt, John (1992). Milton Keynes: Image and reality. Cambridge: Granta Editions. ISBN 0906782724.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link), page 133–136
  3. ^ Kitchen, Roger (2007). Hill, Marion (ed.). 'The story of the original CMK' … told by the people who shaped the original Central Milton Keynes (interviews). Milton Keynes: Living Archive. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-904847-34-5. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Milton Keynes Central Opened". Railway Magazine. Vol. 128 no. 974. June 1982. p. 258. ISSN 0033-8923.
  5. ^ West Coast Main Line: Progress Report – May 2006 Archived 6 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Information for disabled passengers National Rail
  7. ^ "99 Bus Route & Timetable: Luton Airport - Milton Keynes". Stagecoach. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^ sk8m8 : Sk8MK Skate Plaza – Milton Keynes
  10. ^ "Best practice don't repel the borders". Local Government Chronicle. 19 April 2006. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b GB National Rail Timetable December 2015 – May 2016, Table 66
  12. ^ "Chancellor accepts East West Rail targets and strengthens plans with extra cash".
  13. ^ Transport Secretary officially launches East West Railway Company at Bletchley Park East West Rail, 22 November 2017
  14. ^ "'A landmark moment': Consortium delight as 'central section' route is announced". East West Rail. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  15. ^ "New Blackpool to London Services Approved" (Press release). Alliance Rail Holdings. 7 June 2018. Archived from the original on 10 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Grand Central plans new Blackpool to London route from 2020 in major boost for the local economy" (Press release). Grand Central. 24 June 2019. Archived from the original on 8 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Grand Central announces temporary suspension of train services during COVID-19 restrictions" (Press release). Grand Central. 3 April 2020. Archived from the original on 8 April 2020.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Engineer's Line References
  20. ^ Ordnance Survey. Buckinghamshire XV.1 (Loughton; Woolstone cum Willen; Woughton on The Green) (Map) (1925 ed.). 1:2500. National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 28 December 2019.


  1. ^ The others are Wolverton (north Milton Keynes), Bletchley (south Milton Keynes), Fenny Stratford (also south Milton Keynes), Bow Brickhill (south-east Milton Keynes) and Woburn Sands

External linksEdit