Cambridge railway station

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Cambridge National Rail
Cambridge railway station, front entrance
Place Cambridge
Local authority City of Cambridge
Coordinates 52°11′38″N 0°08′17″E / 52.194°N 0.138°E / 52.194; 0.138Coordinates: 52°11′38″N 0°08′17″E / 52.194°N 0.138°E / 52.194; 0.138
Grid reference TL462572
Station code CBG
Managed by Abellio Greater Anglia
Number of platforms 8
DfT category B
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05 Increase 6.060 million
2005/06 Increase 6.137 million
2006/07 Increase 6.522 million
2007/08 Increase 6.998 million
2008/09 Increase 7.572 million
2009/10 Increase 7.660 million
2010/11 Increase 8.245 million
2011/12 Increase 8.823 million
- Interchange 0.732 million
2012/13 Increase 9.168 million
- Interchange Decrease 0.528 million
2013/14 Increase 9.825 million
Key dates Opened 1845 (1845)
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Cambridge from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Cambridge railway station serves the city of Cambridge in eastern England. It stands at the end of Station Road, off Hills Road, 1 mile (1.6 km) south-east of the city centre. It is the busiest railway station in the East of England, used by 8.8 million passengers in 2011/12.

Several routes start at the station including the West Anglia Main Line to London Liverpool Street, the Fen Line to King's Lynn, the Breckland Line to Norwich, services to Ipswich on the Ipswich to Ely Line, and the Cambridge Line, heading southwards and following an alternate route, to London King's Cross, via Hitchin. These routes are electrified at 25 kV AC overhead, except for the Ipswich to Ely and Cambridge to Norwich lines, which are diesel-operated. The station has the third-longest platform in England. Ticket barriers are in operation.


The Eastern Counties Railway opened to Cambridge in 1845. The station building, with its long classical façade and porte-cochère (infilled during the 20th century), has been attributed to both Sancton Wood and Francis Thompson[1] and is listed Grade II. The long platform (platforms 1 and 4) is typical of its period but was unusual in that (apart from a brief period in the mid-19th century) it was not supplemented by another through platform until platforms 7 and 8 were added in 2011. There were major platform lengthenings and remodellings of the main building in 1863 and 1908. The station layout was altered in 1896 by deviating the Newmarket line approaches.

The University of Cambridge helped block later 19th-century attempts to create a central station.[2]

Historically, services from the station included:

  • Great Northern Railway
    • Services to London King's Cross via Hitchin, including the Cambridge Buffet Car Expresses

Each of the four companies also had its own goods facilities in the station area, and, except for the M.R., its own motive power depot. The G.E.R. maintained a special locomotive for the Royal Train here.

In around 1928 the London and North Eastern Railway re-signalled the station replacing its five signal boxes with two electrically controlled boxes, with the work carried out by the British Power Railway Signal Company.[3]

The line from Bishop's Stortford to Cambridge was electrified by British Rail in 1987, enabling electric trains to operate between Liverpool Street and Cambridge.

When the link to Stansted Airport from London Liverpool Street opened in 1991 the Hitchin-Cambridge Line became more important; all non-stop trains now take this route to London Kings Cross, reducing congestion on the very busy stretch of the West Anglia Main Line between London Liverpool Street and Bishop's Stortford.

The "CB1" area in front of the station buildings had been due for redevelopment by Ashwell Property Group. In December 2009 the developers went bankrupt and reformed under the name Brookgate. Part of the redevelopment scheme had included a £1 million contribution towards the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway scheme passing through the area.[4]

In 2012 the station infrastructure was under scrutiny as it emerged passengers were forced to queue for over 40 minutes to purchase tickets.[5]

Motive Power Depots[edit]

Cambridge Locomotive Depot 2 October 1960

The Eastern Counties Railway opened a small motive power depot at the station in 1845. This was replaced by a larger depot on the west side of the line at the north end of the station, in 1847. This was enlarged in 1913 and again in 1932 but closed 18 June 1962 and was demolished to make room for a car park.[6]

The Great Eastern Railway opened a small motive power depot on the east side of the line at the south end of the station for its own and Great Northern Railway locomotives in 1879. This was closed by the London and North Eastern Railway in 1924, and used as a wagon works until it was demolished in 1985. The Bedfordshire and Cambridge Railway opened a small motive power depot on the west side of the line at the south end of the station in 1862. This was closed by the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 2 December 1935, but remained in use, unofficially until 1951. The building was demolished in 1964.[6]


Platform 8
Platform 7

Platform 4
Platform 5
  Platform 1
Platform 2

    Station building    

Platform 6 Platform 3

Plan of current platforms[7]

At 514 yards (470 m), Cambridge has the third-longest railway platform in the UK, after Colchester and Gloucester. This platform is divided into Platforms 1 and 4 with a scissors crossover in the middle to divide it in two, which allows trains from either direction to pass those already stopped there. Bay platforms exist at both ends of the station: Platforms 2 and 3 at the southern end of the station and Platforms 5 and 6 at the northern end. Platforms 7 and 8 are located on an island platform on the eastern side of the station. These came into use in December 2011.[8]

Platform 1 is a 12-car bi-directional through platform generally used for northbound services to Ely, King's Lynn and Birmingham New Street. It is also used for some early morning southbound services to London King's Cross and London Liverpool Street and for some late evening terminating services.

Platforms 2 (10-car) and 3 (8-car) are south-facing bay platforms generally used for services to and from London King's Cross or London Liverpool Street (with some Sunday services to Stratford).

Platform 4 is a bi-directional 10-car through platform generally used for northbound services to Ely, King's Lynn and Birmingham New Street. It is also used for some early morning southbound services to London King's Cross and London Liverpool Street and for some terminating late evening services.

Platform 5 is a 6-car north-facing bay platform generally used for services to and from Norwich (and occasional services to and from Birmingham New Street).

Platform 6 is a 6-car north-facing bay platform used for services to and from Ipswich (with occasional services to and from Harwich International).

Platforms 7 and 8 are bi-directional 12-car through platforms generally used for southbound services to London King's Cross, London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport. These platforms are also used for longer terminating trains from London Liverpool Street and London King's Cross.



Railways around Cambridge
Fen Line
Cambridge North (under construction)
Cambridge & St. Ives Branch
River Cam
Cambridge & Mildenhall Line
Ipswich to Ely Line (via Dullingham)
LNWR goods
Varsity Line
Cambridgeshire Guided Busway
Hitchin to Cambridge Line
Stour Valley Railway
West Anglia Main Line

Cambridge is served by several operators.

  • Great Northern serves the station as part of its service from London King's Cross. This uses Class 317 or Class 365 electric multiple units. Class 365 units usually work the Cambridge Cruiser and semi-fast services.
    • The "Cambridge Cruiser" (termed 'Cambridge Express' from London) runs non-stop between London King's Cross and Cambridge. There is an hourly service in each direction.
    • There are also hourly semi-fast trains between Cambridge and London, calling at Royston, Baldock, Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
    • There is an hourly stopping train to London King's Cross, calling at all stations between Foxton and Hitchin, then Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park.
    • Travelling northbound, there are hourly Great Northern services to Fen Line stations, calling at Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market, Watlington and King's Lynn. Off-peak these trains run non-stop between Cambridge and King's Cross; during peak hours additional stops are usually made. Some of these additional stops were phased out in First Capital Connect's May 2009 'Seats for You' timetable, since in some cases extra trains now run to call at the stops removed, such as Royston and Letchworth Garden City. A certain number of services to/from Cambridge start or terminate at Ely or King's Lynn
    • In total there are 4 Great Northern trains per hour each way between Cambridge and London Kings Cross.[11]
  • Abellio Greater Anglia serves the station with three routes:
    • To London Liverpool Street via the West Anglia Main Line. These services use Class 317 or Class 379 electric multiple units. During the morning peak a few services start back from King's Lynn or Ely, and during the evening peak a few are extended beyond Cambridge to Ely and King's Lynn. There are typically two services each hour, one stopping and one semi-fast. A few services to/from Cambridge end or start at Bishops Stortford.
    • An hourly service between Cambridge and Norwich via the Breckland Line. This uses Class 170 Turbostar units and usually departs from Platform 5. This service was started in 2002 by Anglia, which ordered four of these trains for use on the new service. On rare occasions these services use older Sprinter units. Additional services start or terminate at Ely.
    • An hourly service between Cambridge and Ipswich. This mainly uses Class 170 diesel multiple units with some services early in the morning and late evening using Class 153 or Class 156. One train a day continues to Harwich International. These services usually depart from Platform 6.
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Ely   CrossCountry
Birmingham - Stansted Airport
  Audley End
Terminus   Dutchflyer
Cambridge - Amsterdam
London King's Cross   Great Northern
Cambridge Cruiser
or Terminus
Royston   Great Northern
Great Northern Semi fast
or Terminus
Foxton   Great Northern
Great Northern stopping
Terminus   Abellio Greater Anglia
Breckland Line
  Abellio Greater Anglia
Ipswich to Ely Line
Whittlesford Parkway   Abellio Greater Anglia
West Anglia Main Line Semi Fast and
Bishops Stortford/Stansted Airport-Cambridge
Shelford   Abellio Greater Anglia
West Anglia Main Line stopping
Whittlesford Parkway   Abellio Greater Anglia
Liverpool Street-Ely/Kings Lynn (peak hours only)
Disused railways
Lord's Bridge
Line and station closed
  British Railways
Varsity Line
Line and station closed
  Great Eastern Railway
Cambridge to Huntingdon
Historical railways
Line open, station closed
  British Railways
Cambridge Line
Barnwell Junction
Line open, station closed
  Great Eastern Railway
Cambridge to Mildenhall
Terminus   Newmarket and Chesterford Railway   Cherryhinton
Line open, station closed

Future services[edit]

Cambridge North railway station[edit]

A new railway station is being built a few miles to the north in the Cambridge suburb of Chesterton, close to Cambridge Science Park.[12] According to the official proposal from Cambridgeshire County Council, which has the backing of the rail industry, the station will be located at Chesterton Sidings on the Fen Line. The station will connect to the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway and provide an interchange with Park & Ride and local Stagecoach bus services. Construction commenced in July 2014 and the station is due to be operational by December 2016.[13]

Thameslink Programme[edit]

Main article: Thameslink Programme

New services are anticipated for 2018, to destinations south of central London.[14] In May 2014, a proposed timetable was released; the planned services are:

Transport links[edit]

Several bus services stop outside the main station building, linking the railway with the city centre and other parts of Cambridge, including Addenbrooke's Hospital. Buses also travel from the station out of the city to Sawston, Saffron Walden and Imperial War Museum Duxford to the south and Histon and Impington and Cottenham to the north. A taxi rank and a large area for bicycle parking are also located outside the station, although only a small number of free spaces are available for cycles.


On 30 May 2015 the 09:14 GTR Great Northern service from London Kings Cross hit another train shortly after 10:00 BST. Three passengers were injured.[15]


  1. ^ Biddle, Gordon; Nock, O. S. (1983). The Railway Heritage of Britain. London: Michael Joseph. ISBN 978-0-7181-2355-0. 
  2. ^ Gray, Adrian (1976). "Cambridge’s quest for a central station". Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society 22: 22–4. 
  3. ^ "The Re-signalling of Cambridge Station" (PDF). The Engineer: 642–3. 10 December 1926. 
  4. ^ Havergal, Chris (11 December 2009). "Developer goes bust - but station plan still on track". Cambridge News. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Anger over huge queues at Cambridge railway station". Cambridge News. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Griffiths, Roger; Smith, Paul (1999). Directory of British Engine Sheds and Principal Locomotive Servicing Points. 1: Southern England, the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales. OPC Railprint. p. 141. ISBN 0-86093-542-6. 
  7. ^ Biggest revamp to Cambridge station in 160 years begins "Biggest revamp to Cambridge station in 160 years begins". Retrieved 4 January 2015. [dead link]
  8. ^ "New platform opens". Rail Professional. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Enhancements programme: statement of scope, outputs and milestones" (PDF). Network Rail. 31 March 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Birmingham-Leicester-Cambridge-Stansted" (PDF). CrossCountry Trains. Retrieved 4 January 2015. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Timetables". First Capital Connect. Retrieved 4 January 2015. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Cambridge's new railway station 'to open in 2015'". Cambridge News. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Cambridge Science Park station delayed again". Cambridge News. 15 February 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  14. ^ Proposed Thameslink service pattern
  15. ^


External links[edit]