Brighton railway station
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View from platform 8, looking westward towards platform one.
|Location||Brighton, City of Brighton and Hove|
|Owned by||Network Rail|
|Classification||DfT category B|
|Opened||11 May 1840|
|Feature||Brighton station including train sheds|
|Designated||30 April 1973 (amended 26 August 1999)|
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road
Brighton railway station is the southern terminus of the Brighton main line in England, and the principal station serving the city of Brighton, East Sussex. It is 50 miles 49 chains (81.45 km) from London Bridge via Redhill.
It was built by the London & Brighton Railway in 1840, initially connecting Brighton to Shoreham-by-Sea, westwards along the coast, and shortly afterwards connecting it to London Bridge and the county town of Lewes to the east. In 1846, the railway became the London Brighton and South Coast Railway following mergers with other railways with lines between Portsmouth and Hastings.
With over 17 million passenger entries and exits in 2018/19, Brighton is the seventh-busiest station in the country outside London.
History and development
The London and Brighton Railway (L&BR) built a passenger station, goods station, locomotive depot and railway works on a difficult site on the northern edge of Brighton. This site was 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from, and 70 feet (21 m) above the sea shore, and had involved considerable excavation work to create a reasonable gradient from Patcham Tunnel.
The passenger station was a three-storey building in an Italianate style, designed by David Mocatta in 1839–40 which incorporated the head office of the railway company. (This building still stands but has been largely obscured by later additions.) The station is said to have many similarities to the Nine Elms railway station of the London and Southampton Railway (1838) designed by Sir William Tite. Baker & Son were paid £9766 15s for the station building between May and August 1841. The platform accommodation was built by John Urpeth Rastrick and consisted of four pitched roofs each 250 ft long (76 m). It opened for trains to Shoreham on 12 May 1840, and to London on 21 September 1841.
The station site was extended for the opening of the Brighton Lewes and Hastings Railway on 8 June 1846 (which had been purchased by the L&BR in 1845). In July 1846, the L&BR merged with other railways to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.
Further extensions to the station occurred during the mid-19th century but only a limited number of additional platforms could be added because of the awkward sloping site. By the late 1870s the facilities were inadequate for the growing volume of traffic and so the existing platforms were lengthened to be able to accommodate two trains, and the three separate roofs were replaced by an overall roof during 1882/1883.
The station has an impressive large double-spanned curved glass and iron roof covering all of the platforms, which was substantially renovated in 1999 and 2000.
At the front of the station is a bus station. The station taxi rank is outside the rear of the station. A tunnel runs under the station which once provided an open-air cab run at a shallower gradient than Trafalgar Street outside, which had been the main approach to the station before the construction of Queen's Road (which was financially supported by the railway, and intended to improve access). The cab run was covered (forming a tunnel) when the station above was extended over it on cast iron columns. The cab run remains in situ but has been sealed at the station end.
Goods station and yard
A goods station and yard was also constructed on the eastern side of the passenger station but on a site 30 ft lower (9.1 m) due to the sloping site, which was initially accessed from the Shoreham line by a second tunnel under the passenger station. The tunnel entrance was filled in after new tracks were laid into the goods yard, but a portion of it was converted into offices during World War II, and these were in use until the early 21st century. A portion of the tunnel is still used by a local rifle club. The site of the goods yard has since been redeveloped, and much of it forms the New England Quarter.
Locomotive and carriage works
To the north of the station, on the east side of the main line, the railway constructed its locomotive and carriage works, which operated from 1841 until 1911, when the carriage works was moved to Lancing and 1957 when the locomotive works closed. Thereafter Isetta cars were briefly built in a part of the works.
The London and Brighton Railway opened a small locomotive shed and servicing facility to the north west of the station for locomotives on the Shoreham line, in May 1840, and another, adjacent to the locomotive works for main line locomotives, the following year. During 1860–1861 John Chester Craven, the Locomotive Superintendent of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) began the removal of a large chalk hill to the north of the station, which had been dumped during the excavation of the main line. The space created was used to accommodate a new much enlarged motive power depot in 1861, replacing the two existing facilities. During the early 1930s, following the electrification of the lines the steam motive power depot was rebuilt and reduced in size. It was closed 15 June 1961, but remained in use for stabling steam locomotives until 1964, and was demolished in 1966.
The site is currently the Network Rail's ECR and infrastructure maintenance depot, and Southern's Lovers Walk Depot, used for servicing most of Southern's single voltage Class 377 Electrostar, Class 387 Electrostar and Class 313 fleets.
Brighton station was listed at Grade II* on 30 April 1973. As of February 2001, it was one of 70 Grade II*-listed buildings and structures, and 1,218 listed buildings of all grades, in the city of Brighton and Hove.
The station has 8 platforms, numbered 1 to 8 from left to right when looking from the main entrance. All platforms are long enough to accommodate 12-car trains.
- Platforms 1 and 2 can only be used by services on the West Coastway line.[a] They are served by Southern services towards Hove, Worthing, Chichester, Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central; platform 1 is also used by GWR services to Bristol Temple Meads and beyond.
- Platform 3 is the only platform that can be used by services on all three lines, although trains on the West Coastway Line are limited to 4 carriages in length; services on the Brighton main and East Coastway lines are not restricted. The signalling also allows this platform to be occupied by two units on two separate lines at the same time, with a West Coastway train at the near end of the platform and a Brighton main or East Coastway train (up to 4 carriages long) at the far end. During the day, the platform is usually used by Southern and Gatwick Express services to London Victoria.
- Platforms 4-8 can be used by services on the Brighton main line and the East Coastway line. Usually, platform 4 shares with platform 3 the Southern and Gatwick Express services to London Victoria; platform 5 is served by Thameslink trains to Cambridge, platform 6 by those to Bedford, while platforms 7 and 8 are used by Southern services on the East Coastway Line. However, this usage can be changed at times of disruption.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
Brighton Main Line
(Preston Park or
Hassocks at peak times)
|Preston Park or|
Brighton Main Line
East Coastway Line
|London Road or|
West Coastway Line
|Great Western Railway
West Coastway Line
Brighton Main Line
The typical off-peak service from Brighton on the Brighton Main Line is:
- 2 tph (trains per hour) to London Victoria (semi-fast), operated by Southern;
- 2 tph to London Victoria calling only at Gatwick Airport, operated by Gatwick Express;
- 2 tph to Bedford via Gatwick Airport and London Bridge (stopping), operated by Thameslink;
- 2 tph to Cambridge via Gatwick Airport, London Bridge and Stevenage operated by Thameslink;
West Coastway Line
The typical off-peak service from Brighton on the West Coastway Line is:
- 2 tph to West Worthing (stopping), operated by Southern;
- 2 tph to Hove (to connect with semi-fast services from London Victoria to Littlehampton), operated by Southern;
- 1 tph to Portsmouth Harbour (semi-fast), operated by Southern;
- 1 tph to Southampton Central (semi-fast), operated by Southern.
East Coastway Line
The typical off-peak service from Brighton on the East Coastway Line is:
- 2 tph to Seaford via Lewes (stopping);
- 2 tph to Lewes only (stopping);
- 2 tph to Hastings via Lewes and Eastbourne (semi-fast), one of which is extended one stop to Ore.
All services on this line are operated by Southern.
Former operators and services
The following companies have served Brighton in the past:
- London & Brighton Railway
- London, Brighton & South Coast Railway
- Southern Railway
- British Rail
- South West Trains
- Virgin CrossCountry
- Connex South Central
- Wessex Trains
- Thameslink (original)
- First Capital Connect
Until 1967 a service operated between Brighton and Birkenhead Woodside via Redhill, Reading, Oxford, Birmingham Snow Hill, Wolverhampton Low Level, Shrewsbury and Chester. The stock was provided on alternate days by British Railways successors to the Southern Railway and the Great Western Railway being the Southern Region and Western Region.
South West Trains used to operate regular services from this station, to Reading and Paignton, via Worthing and Chichester. These services were withdrawn on 10 December 2007 because of new franchise obligations, and South West Trains no longer operate any services from Brighton.
CrossCountry also served Brighton, with services to Birmingham New Street and beyond. These services were withdrawn from the December 2008 timetable change, as they were no longer required by the new franchise.
Until May 2018, Brighton was served by an hourly express service to Ashford International, via Lewes, Eastbourne and Hastings, but it has been discontinued since. Now, all Ashford trains run from Eastbourne as stopping services.
Disruptions to services from the station
Football matches at the Falmer Stadium are served by train services from Brighton to Falmer. A queuing system is in operation from 2 hours before kick off for trains departing from platforms 7 and 8. The stadium's 30,750 capacity means these queues are large close to kick off. After the game, fans leave the station via the emergency gates, and a queuing system is in operation for West Coastway Line services departing from platforms 1 and 2.
The Lewes Bonfire night, usually on 5 November, attracts large numbers of people, many travelling through Brighton station. As a result, Southern operate a queuing system from the afternoon onwards.
The London to Brighton Bike Ride in June each year attracts large numbers of cyclists. As a result, Southern ban bicycles from many trains on the day, and on the following day they operate a queuing system at Brighton station. The train operators had in the past allowed bicycles on trains for the many cyclists returning to London.
Passenger facilities include a ticket office, a travel information office, and several retail outlets. There are bus stops, a taxi rank, a car park and bicycle storage. Facilities for cyclists were extended in 2014 when a "cycle hub" was built at the rear entrance to the station. The three-storey building combines storage space for 500 bicycles with shops to buy or hire a bicycle, a repair facility, toilets, showers, changing facilities and a café. It is open 24 hours a day and storage is free of charge; most funding came from the Department for Transport (£500,000), Network Rail (£200,000), local rail operator Southern and the city council (£100,000 each).
In 2012 £4.5 million was secured from the Department for Transport's Station Commercial Project Facility for renovation of the concourse. Changes included an increased number of ticket barriers, improved layout, more seating and retail outlets and the removal of the previous WH Smiths structure.
Train Crew Depots
The concourse includes food shops, cafés, a newsagent and other food and retail outlets. The front of the station often sees stalls and street food vans. Following a request by Labour MP Peter Kyle in 2014, Southern added a street piano to the concourse, with a vintage Southern Railway logo inscribed.
LB&SCR "Terrier" steam engine British Railways No. 32635 Brighton Works in June 1961
The Brighton Belle electric train nears Brighton Station in June 1961
- Transport in Brighton and Hove
- London to Brighton in Four Minutes – BBC short film of early 1950s showing speeded-up train journey
- Platform 2 also has a direct connection to the Brighton main line (with trains on that line being limited to 4 carriages in length); however, this link passes through the Brighton Lovers Walk depot, and is not used by any scheduled passenger services.
- Historic England (2007). "Brighton Station including train sheds, Queen's Road (north side), Brighton (1380797)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- "Estimates of station usage 2018–19" (PDF). Office of Rail Regulation. January 2020. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- Turner 1977, p. 123.
- White 1992, p. 82.
- Cole, David (1958). "Mocatta's stations for the Brighton Railway". Journal of Transport History. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 5: 149–157. ISSN 0022-5266.
- Cole (1958), pp.150.
- Cooper 1981, p. 30.
- Body 1989, p. 53.
- White 1992, p. 81.
- Mitchell & Smith 1985, Historial Background.
- McCarthy & McCarthy 2007, p. 34.
- Project information from Kier Construction Ltd[permanent dead link]
- Bondeson, Jan (2011). Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781848689466.
- "300 jobs created by new Brighton hotel and office development". The Argus.
- Griffiths, Roger & Smith, Paul (1999). The directory of British engine sheds and principal locomotive servicing points: 1 Southern England, the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Co. p. 3.
- Cooper (1981), p. 58
- Griffiths (1999), p. 69
- "Images of England – Statistics by County (East Sussex)". Images of England. English Heritage. 2007. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- "Plans to axe unpopular two-carriage Eastbourne train service". Eastbourne Herald.
- "Lewes Bonfire Night". Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "London to Brighton Bike Ride Southern Cycle Policy". Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "Cyclists' group urges rethink on London to Brighton Bike Ride train ban". Brighton & Hove News. 12 June 2012. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "Station cycle centre on course for completion". Brighton & Hove Independent. Love News Media Ltd. 6 June 2014. p. 5.
- "Brighton station's £5m concourse transformation unveiled : Southern". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- "Train operating company driver's depots on the Traindriver.org website". September 2017.
- Middlemass, Tom (1995). "Chapter 5: A Complicated Tale". Stroudley and his Terriers. York: Pendragon. p. 51. ISBN 1-899816-00-3.
Earlswood hit the platform buffers
- "WELLESLEY, Arthur Richard, mq. of Douro (1807–1884)". The History of Parliament Trust. 1964–2017. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
- Wills, Ella (31 October 2019). "How pianos became part of the furniture at UK railway stations". BBC News. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- Body, Geoffrey (1989). Railways of the Southern Region. Patrick Stephens. ISBN 1-85260-297-X.
- Cooper, B. K. (1981). Rail Centres: Brighton. Booklaw Publications. ISBN 1-901945-11-1.
- McCarthy, Colin; McCarthy, David (2007). Railways of Britain - Kent and East Sussex. Ian Allen. ISBN 978-0-7110-3222-4.
- Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (1985). South Coast Railways : Brighton to Eastbourne. Middleton Press. ISBN 0-906520-16-9.
- Turner, John Howard (1977). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 1 Origins and Formation. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-0275-X.
- White, H.P. (1992) . A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume 2 : Southern England (5th ed.). David St John Thomas. ISBN 0-946537-77-1.
- "£18m rebuild of Brighton station starts with £3m working platform". RAIL. No. 323. EMAP Apex Publications. 28 January – 10 February 1998. p. 14. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
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