Colchester railway station

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Colchester National Rail
The old station building, now the rear entrance
Place Colchester
Local authority Borough of Colchester
Coordinates 51°54′02″N 0°53′34″E / 51.9006°N 0.8929°E / 51.9006; 0.8929Coordinates: 51°54′02″N 0°53′34″E / 51.9006°N 0.8929°E / 51.9006; 0.8929
Grid reference TL990263
Station code COL
Managed by Abellio Greater Anglia
Number of platforms 6
DfT category B
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05  4.305 million
2005/06 Decrease 4.288 million
2006/07 Increase 4.338 million
2007/08 Increase 4.526 million
2008/09 Increase 4.575 million
2009/10 Decrease 4.219 million
2010/11 Increase 4.363 million
2011/12 Increase 4.579 million
2012/13 Decrease 4.291 million
2013/14 Increase 4.402 million
Original company Eastern Counties Railway
Pre-grouping Great Eastern Railway
Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway
29 March 1843 (1843-03-29) Station opened
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Colchester from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Colchester or Colchester North is the main railway station for Colchester in Essex, England. It is on the Great Eastern Main Line from London Liverpool Street to Norwich and is a junction for the Sunshine Coast Line to Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton-on-Sea, which diverges southwards from the main line to the east of the station. The junction is grade-separated so trains passing to and from the Clacton line do not cross the main line. Train services are provided by Abellio Greater Anglia.


Colchester station in 1851, before its rebuilding in 1865
Slow train from Cambridge in 1951

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

The Eastern Counties Railway 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 town having felt isolated by development of the route to Norwich via Cambridge by the Eastern Counties Railway.[4]

As passenger numbers passing through the station increased, particularly with growth on the Sunshine Coast Line the lay-out 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 fairly sharp curve.

Prior to electrification on the lines, Colchester was modernised in 1962, with a new station building on the north side of the tracks. After the reconstruction the station has two main platforms. The up (London bound) comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by Norwich expresses, while 4 is on the up Sunshine Coast line, which merges with the up main where the two platforms join end-to-end. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. This combined platform is the longest in the UK[dubious ] at 2034 ft (620 m). 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/from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services to/from Sudbury. However most services were shortened to terminate at Marks Tey in the mid-90s. In the timetable current from December 2014 only a single service a day to/from Sudbury starts/terminates at Colchester. 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 with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down Sunshine Coast line. Platform 1 is mainly used for trains to Clacton-on-Sea but occasionally used for trains to Norwich.

The main ticket office is a modern glass fronted design, sited on the north side of the station, and access to the platforms is by a subway. The original 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. Both entrances to the station are protected by automatic ticket gates.

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

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 12 July 1913, an express passenger train collided with a light engine due to a signalman's error. Three people were killed and fourteen were injured.[5]


The station has six platforms.

Train services[edit]

The following services currently call at Colchester:

Operator Route Material Frequency
Abellio Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich - Diss - Norwich Class 90 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Chelmsford - Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich - Stowmarket - Diss - Norwich Class 90 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Shenfield - Chelmsford - Hatfield Peverel - Witham - Kelvedon - Marks Tey - Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich Class 321, Class 360 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Shenfield - Chelmsford - Witham - Colchester - Wivenhoe - Thorpe-le-Soken - Clacton-on-Sea Class 321, Class 360 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Romford - Shenfield - Ingatestone - Chelmsford - Witham - Kelvedon - Marks Tey - Colchester - Colchester Town Class 321, Class 360 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia Colchester - Colchester Town - Hythe - Wivenhoe - Alresford - Great Bentley - Weeley - Thorpe-le-Soken - Kirby Cross - Frinton-on-Sea - Walton-on-the-Naze Class 321 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia Colchester - Colchester Town Class 321 1x per hour
A London to Norwich service (left) and a slower service to London (right)
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Abellio Greater Anglia
Abellio Greater Anglia
Terminus Abellio Greater Anglia
Abellio Greater Anglia
Historical railways
Anglia Railways


  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. ^ Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 25. ISBN 0-906899-03-6. 

External links[edit]