The Breckland Line is a secondary railway line in the east of England that links Cambridge in the west to Norwich in the east. The line runs through three counties: Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. It takes its name from the Breckland region of Norfolk, and also notably passes through Thetford Forest.
The line is 51 miles 8 chains (82.2 km) in length from where it branches off the Fen Line north of Ely to where it joins the Great Eastern Main Line south of Norwich. There are 12 stations on the line including the termini.
The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5, SRS 05.09 and part of SRS 05.05. It is classified as a secondary line, except between Cambridge and Ely, which is classified as a London and South East commuter line. Passenger services on the Breckland Line are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia (which manages all of the stations), CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, and Great Northern.
The line is double-track throughout but is only electrified between Cambridge and Ely, at 25 kV AC. It has a loading gauge of W8, except for the section connecting the Ipswich to Ely Line to the Ely to Peterborough Line which is W10. The line speed ranges between 40 and 90 mph.
Until 2012 the line retained its historic characteristics, with well preserved stations, semaphore signalling and, until spring 2009, lineside telegraph poles, along with sections of jointed rail on wooden sleepers. However, the two stage Ely-Norwich re-signalling programme in August and December 2012 involved the closure of the nine local mechanical signal boxes and removal of the seven sets of manually-operated wooden gates at level crossings. The Cambridge signal box now controls the modern electronic interlockings which operate the lightweight LED signals, while the level crossings have been fully automated with barriers and warning lights.
|Place||Station and grid reference|
|Spooner Row||Spooner Row:|
|Eccles and Quidenham||Eccles Road:|
|East Harling||Harling Road:|
|Shippea Hill and Prickwillow||Shippea Hill:|
Some of the stations on the Breckland Line see just one stopping train in each direction per day, mostly in the Norwich direction in the morning and in the Cambridge direction in the afternoon or evening. Three stations on the line are request stops only: Spooner Row, Lakenheath and Shippea Hill.
Passenger services are operated by several companies:
- Abellio Greater Anglia operates a typically hourly service between Cambridge and Norwich, using Class 170 diesel multiple units.
- East Midlands Trains operates various services between Ely and Norwich, as part of its Liverpool-Norwich route, usually using Class 158 diesel units, although Class 153 and Class 156 units may sometimes be used.
- CrossCountry operates various services between Cambridge and Ely as part of its Birmingham-Stansted Airport route, usually using Class 170 diesel units.
- Thameslink and Great Northern operates various services between Cambridge and Ely as part of the Fen Line route to King's Lynn, usually using Class 365 electrical multiple units.