Ipswich railway station
|Local authority||Borough of Ipswich, Suffolk|
|Managed by||Abellio Greater Anglia|
|Number of platforms||4|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Key dates||Opened 1860|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Ipswich from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
|UK Railways portal|
Ipswich railway station is a railway station serving the town of Ipswich in Suffolk, England. The station is located, some distance from the town centre, on the Great Eastern Main Line 68 3⁄4 miles (110.6 km) east of London Liverpool Street towards Norwich. Ipswich station is to the southeast of the junction between the main line and the East Suffolk Line to Lowestoft (and to Felixstowe via the Felixstowe Branch Line).
- 1 History
- 2 Description
- 3 Train services
- 4 Goods Facilities
- 5 Signalling
- 6 Water troughs
- 7 Ipswich Tunnel
- 8 Future developments
- 9 Bus services
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The Eastern Union Railway (EUR) opened its first terminus in Ipswich in 1846 on Station Road at the other end of the present-day tunnel close to the old quay for the Steamboats and the aptly named 'Steamboat Tavern'. The Ipswich Steam Navigation Company had been formed in 1824/1825 during a period of 'steamship mania' and briefly offered services from the quay between Ipswich and London calling at Walton-on-the-Naze.
The station moved to its present location in 1860 and the main building was thought to be principally the work of Peter Bruff and undoubtedly Bruff had started the structure. The actual design was in the Italianate style and submitted by architect Sancton Wood (1816-1886) as part of a competition. When the new station was opened, a new road (Princes Street) linking the station to the town was also opened.
By the 1860s the railways in East Anglia were in financial trouble, and most were leased to the Eastern Counties Railway. Although they wished to amalgamate formally, they could not obtain government agreement for this until 1862, when the Great Eastern Railway (GER) was formed by amalgamation. The island platform was added by the GER in 1883.
Ipswich engine shed [ shed code 32B ] opened in 1846 and was at the south end of Stoke tunnel. It was the 3rd largest shed in the Great Eastern area during the steam era after Stratford and Cambridge.
In 1923 the GER amalgamated with other railways to form the London & North Eastern Railway.
In Saturday 30 April 1932 the LNER arranged an exhibition of railway stock at Ipswich. The show was opened by Sir Arthur Churchman of tobacco family fame and over 16,000 visited the show. The proceeds of the show were divided between the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospital and railway charities. The exhibits were (Class/Wheel arrangement/number/name):
- 'Hush Hush' W1 class 4-6-4 No. 10000
- A1 Class 4-6-2 No. 4476 Royal Lancer with corridor tender and "Flying Scotsman" headboard
- Class D49 4-4-0 No. 201 "The Braham Moor". This last locomotive was brand new and had not been in traffic.
The show also included a sleeping car and a new composite corridor coach.
In 1948 following nationalisation of the railways Ipswich station became part of British Railways Eastern Region.
In the early 1980s the railway through Ipswich was electrified and in May 1985 electric services operated by class 86 locomotives started to operate to London Liverpool Street. At this point the line from Norwich had not been electrified and for a year diesel locomotives were detached and electric locomotives attached at Ipswich (in the up direction and the reverse in the down direction)During 1985/86 the line to Norwich was electrified and through electric working commenced.
The station's original lifts were removed in 1993 when the line was electrified.
Following the Privatisation of British Rail services from Ipswich Station were operated by Anglia Railways from 1997 until April 2004 after which the franchise was won by National Express East Anglia (operating under the 'one' brand until 2008).
In the five years between 2004/05 and 2008/09 patronage rose by 50% from 2 million per year to 3 million per year.
Ticket barriers were installed in the station building in May 2009 and the exit gate on Platform 2 closed permanently.
In October 2011 the Department for Transport awarded the new Greater Anglia franchise to Abellio, the services formerly operated by National Express East Anglia transferring to Greater Anglia on 5 February 2012. Abellio then became responsible for the operation of Ipswich station.
- Platform 1 is a bay platform for trains to/from Lowestoft and Ipswich to Felixstowe services.
- Platform 2 is used for through trains to London from Norwich and Ipswich to Felixstowe services.
- Platform 3 is used for through trains to Norwich from London and Ipswich to Cambridge services.
- Platform 4 (4A,4B, 4C) is used for services to Cambridge and Peterborough, and stopping services to London.
There is an avoiding line between the lines that serve the main through platforms 2 and 3.
Prior to electrification there were 2 short sidings at the London end of the up platform which were used for locomotive changes on up trains when required.
Platforms 3 and 4 can be accessed via the footbridge or by lift.
Opposite Platform 4 at Ipswich Station is a stabling point used by Freightliner diesel and electric locomotives. Classes 66, 70, 86 and 90 are the most common, although locomotives of other companies have been known to use the point in the past. For railway photographers, Platforms 3 and 4 offer the best views of the stabling point.
The station has extensive facilities including self-service ticket machines, ticket counters, a WHSmith convenience store, 2 cafes, a multi-storey car park, taxi stand, bus station and ATMs. The whole stations is now fully accessible, with lifts having been installed in 2011.
Passenger train services to and from Ipswich have always been dominated by the main line to London Liverpool Street however to the north as well as Norwich some services used the East Suffolk Line with trains for Great Yarmouth South Town station or after that was closed, Lowestoft. Through trains operated until the 1980s and were briefly revived in the early part of the 21st Century although the need for more commuter seats south of Colchester saw these terminating at Ipswich (although occasional workings are extended to Harwich International).
Many minor local stations closed during the 1960s as did branch lines to Framlingham and Aldeburgh. Branch services on the Felixstowe line have, with the exception of the first few years of that line’s existence, started for Ipswich as have local stopping services on the East Suffolk, Norwich and Cambridge lines. One interesting working in the 1920s and 1930s was a train that operated from Sheffield via Worksop, Spalding, March and Ely to Felixstowe during the summer months.
By far the most interesting working was the “Boat Train” which operated between Harwich Parkeston Quay and various destinations until the 1990s. The privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s saw this service terminated at Peterborough. More information can be found about the early days of this train can be found on the Great Eastern Railway page. Another long-distance working was from Colchester to York via Lincoln which ran for a number of years.
Throughout the steam era trains were predominantly hauled by Great Eastern Railway locomotives and indeed when steam ended in Suffolk in 1960 some of these locomotives were still operated. The article on Ipswich engine shed and the Great Eastern Railway gives further details of these. After the grouping of 1923 LNER designed locomotives were also employed in the area with the B17 4-6-0 class working many main line services. After nationalisation in 1948 British Railways introduced the Britannia class 4-6-2 class which worked main line services until succeeded by diesels in the late 1950s.
East Anglia was the first area to be worked completely by diesel trains with Class 40s taking over main line express workings. The first one of these ran in June 1958 complete with a headboard with the wording "First Diesel Hauled train on the GE in public service". These were succeeded by Class 37 and Class 47 up until electrification in the 1980s when Class 86 and then Class 90 locomotives took over.
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 and employed British Rail Class 170 DMUs.
Current Services 2013
The following services currently call at Ipswich:
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
|Abellio Greater Anglia|
|Terminus||Abellio Greater Anglia|
|Abellio Greater Anglia|
|Abellio Greater Anglia|
|Abellio Greater Anglia||Terminus|
Line open, station closed
|Great Eastern Railway||
Line open, station closed
Ipswich has a number of goods facilities and a myriad of private sidings as well as extensive railways in the docks.
This is located between Ipswich station and East Suffolk Junction on the east side of the line. The yard is still active in 2013 with Freightliner (container) trains recessing or running round before running to/from the docks at Felixstowe.
In the past a branch from this yard ran down and across Ranelagh Road, crossed the River Gipping to Ipswich Lower Yard and the eastern part of Ipswich docks but traffic ceased c 1990. The remains of the branch line are still visible today (2013).
In the main yard a transhipment shed existed for a number of years where small consignments were transferred between wagons - there was no public access to this facility which closed in 1951.
Local and regional freight trains serving local stations as well as the other goods facilities in the Ipswich area were re-marshalled in this yard. Regional destinations included Goodmayes and Temple Mills in London and Whitemoor (March) in Cambridgeshire.
Ranelagh Road Sidings
Another branch further to the north crossed over Ranelagh Road to a headshunt and then served a warehouse. This was built c 1920 and was at one time going to be a new route into Ipswich docks avoiding the level crossing on the other branch. The warehouse served a number of companies including Boots, J Lyons & Co, McFarLanes Biscuits, Swift and Co (Meat wholesalers). The site was also used to dump redundant permanent way materials and in the 1970s travelling circuses used the site. The bridge was demolished in 1967 and an abutment remains (2013). The rest of this site has been redeveloped with retail facilities (2013).
This yard contained a wooden goods shed where goods for the town were loaded or unloaded. Cattle pens were also located close to this yard (traffic ceased in the 1960s) and a siding to Constantine Road power station. A small engine shed was located in this area for locomotives that worked in the docks (although they were officially allocated to Ipswich engine shed). At the east end of the yard the railway lines crossed over Bridge Street (which until the 1980s was the first road  crossing over the River Orwell) and from 1903 there was a tram line necessitating special signaling arrangements between the two systems.
In the latter part of the twentieth century a construction terminal and a British Oxygen Company terminal were also located in this area. Most of the site has now been redeveloped into retail premises.
The docks were served by a myriad of dockside lines which fell out of use in the 1990s. Remnants of the dockside lines are still evident today. The lines were worked by small locomotives with enclosed wheels such as J70 tram engines. The dockside tramways covered both sides of the dock and crossed the 1881 lock gates at the south end of the dock. Freight was switched between trains and ships on the dockside.
Sidings were provided for the following businesses (note list not complete or date specific):
- Fisons (fertiliser)
- Packards (fertiliser)
- Esso/Shell/National Benzole/BP (Oil)
- Tolly Cobbold (Brewery)
- Cliff Quay Power station (which closed in 1983)
- Ipswich Gas works
- Cranfields (Mill)
- William Brown (Timber)
Freight traffic to the docks ceased when freightliner and grain traffic to Cliff Quay ceased in 1992.
East Suffolk Junction
This is where the main line for Norwich and the East Suffolk Line split. There were industrial sidings serving Eastern Counties Farmers, Petters (Ipswich) Limited and Manganese Bronze and Brass. These companies had their own locomotives which worked to and from the Upper Yard.
An extensive civil engineers depot was developed here c 1930.
This area will be the site of the locomotive fuelling point which will be relocated from the station c 2014.
Sproughton Sugar Beet Factory
A British Sugar Corporation owned facility (which traded as Ipswich Beet Sugar Factory until 1936) which had its own fleet of industrial locomotives although on occasion shunting locomotives from Ipswich engine shed were also hired out to the factory. The sidings were established in 1925 and at times were used as an overflow when the upper yard at Ipswich was congested. Rail traffic ceased in 1982. 
This branch still exists (2013) but it was not until 20 August of that year that traffic in the form of sea dredged aggregate was operated on the branch. It was hoped this would be a weekly trip and sand traffic to Watford was also expected.
Originally known as the Griffin Wharf Branch it had sidings serving dockside sidings such as:
- Ransomes and Rapier (Engineering works)
- Cooksedge & Co Ltd
- Coal Depot (GER/LNER).
(note list not complete or date specific). A couple of shunting horses were based at this location during Great Eastern days (pre 1923). The West Bank Ferry terminal was developed in 1973.
The following is a list of signal boxes found during the period during Ipswich was controlled by mechanical signaling. The last of these boxes closed in 1985 when the area was re-signalled and electrified. Currently (2013) all signals are controlled from Colchester Power Signal Box.
- Halifax Junction (access from Main line to West Bank/Griffin Wharf Branch and Ipswich engine shed)
- Ipswich Station (South end of Ipswich station on platform 3/4)
- Ipswich Goods Junction (120 levers for signals and points manned by 3 shifts of signalmen supported by two box lads)
- Ipswich Upper Yard (known locally as No.2 Box)
- Ipswich East Suffolk Junction
- Sproughton sidings (opened 1925 and replaced the signal box at Bramford).
- Westerfield Bank (1898-1926)
- Westerfield Junction
- Derby Road
- Ranelagh Road Crossing Box
Water troughs were installed at Halifax Junction in 1897 south of Ipswich Tunnel. These were used by trains to pick up water using a scoop operated by the engine crew, although water cranes were located on the platforms at the station as well. Using the troughs was a quicker method of filling the tenders of steam locomotives and they were located between the rails in the centre of the tracks. These were heated in winter to prevent freezing. The Ipswich troughs fell out of use in the 1960s when steam locomotives were withdrawn from East Anglia.
Ipswich tunnel was built by the Eastern Union Railway's engineer Peter Bruff and opened in November 1846. Trains from Bury St Edmunds passed the existing station site (at that point undeveloped) and continued to Halifax Junction south of the tunnel where they then reversed into the original Croft street terminus.
The tunnel was built as there was no room between the River Orwell and Stoke Hill to build a railway and is thought to be the first tunnel in the world to be built on a continuous curve. During its construction many fossils were found including those of a wooly mammoth.
There have been two accidents in the tunnel. On May 5, 1910 a wagon examiner was taking a short cut through the tunnel (this was forbidden) when it is believed he tripped whilst trying to get out of the way of an engine. On 21 August 1912 a platelayer (track worker) was hit by the engine of a troop train having failed to get out of the way.
Further excavations in 1908 and 1919 were led by Nina Frances Layard revealed remains of mammoths, a turtle and lions. The latter excavation was as a result of the GER widening the cutting east of the tunnel to accommodate some additional sidings. Further bones were found in 1975 by archeologist John Wymer.
For many years the tunnel was regarded as an obstacle to electrification with insufficient clearance for the overhead wires. In 1985 however the tunnel was temporarily closed and the track bed lowered to accommodate the overhead electric lines.
The tunnel was closed again in 2004 to allow for work to lower the track in order to enable larger containers to pass through on goods trains to and from the port of Felixstowe.
Ipswich Railway Chord (Bacon chord)
The Ipswich Railway Chord (or 'Bacon chord' in early documentation) is a short 1415 metre section of track constructed to link the East Suffolk Line and the Great Eastern Main Line just North of Ipswich Goods Yard. This chord, which was opened to traffic in March 2014, allows freight trains from the Port of Felixstowe to access the West Coast Main Line using the Ipswich to Ely Line and a cross-country route via Nuneaton, rather than via the Great Eastern Main Line and the North London Line.
The chord is being built on the site of an old Bacon Factory, hence its original name. It has been reported that the finished scheme will "take 750,000 lorries off the roads".
Preliminary work for the chord started in August 2012, and the Secretary of State for Transport granted full development consent on 5 September 2012, coming into effect on 26 September 2012. Two new junctions were created by the scheme - Boss Hall Junction at the eastern end of the chord with the East Suffolk Line and Europa Junction with the Great Eastern Main Line located close to the site of the Sproughton sugar beet sidings.
Ipswich Upper Yard
In connection with the above work Ipswich Upper Yard will be redeveloped to cope with longer trains. It is also likely that the locomotive sidings will be moved to the East Suffolk Junction site.
Bus services depart from several stops around the station. There is an information poster outside the station, by the main bus stands. Many other services depart from in the Town; Ipswich Old Cattle Market bus station (For regional buses) and Tower Ramparts Bus Station for Town Services.
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Ipswich Steam Navigation Company. Amongst all the companies promoted in 1824-25 ... The Ipswich Steam Navigation Company at least went into operation. It established a service between Ipswich and London, calling at Harwich and Walton-on-the-Naze
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The original lift was demolished when the line was electrified
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