Colchester railway station

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Colchester National Rail
2013 at Colchester - up side buildings.jpg
The old station building, which is now the rear entrance
Place Colchester
Local authority Borough of Colchester
Coordinates 51°54′02.23″N 0°53′34.27″E / 51.9006194°N 0.8928528°E / 51.9006194; 0.8928528Coordinates: 51°54′02.23″N 0°53′34.27″E / 51.9006194°N 0.8928528°E / 51.9006194; 0.8928528
Grid reference TL990263
Station code COL
Managed by 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*
2012/13 Decrease 4.291 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.406 million
2013/14 Increase 4.402 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.421 million
2014/15 Increase 4.457 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.462 million
2015/16 Increase 4.461 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.508 million
2016/17 Increase 4.476 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.526 million
Original company Eastern Counties Railway
Pre-grouping Great Eastern Railway
Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway
29 March 1843 (1843-03-29) 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 and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Colchester railway station (also known as Colchester North) is on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) in the East of England, and is the primary station serving the town of Colchester, Essex. Its three-letter station code is COL. It is 51 miles 52 chains (83.1 km) down-line from London Liverpool Street and on the GEML is situated between Marks Tey to the west and Manningtree to the east. Colchester is also the location of a major junction where the GEML links to the Sunshine Coast Line, which runs south to Clacton-on-Sea and, via a short branch, to Walton-on-the-Naze; services to and from Colchester Town also join the GEML at the Colchester junction. The junction is grade-separated so trains branching to and from Colchester Town or the Sunshine Coast Line do not cross the main line.

Colchester station was opened in 1843 by the Eastern Counties Railway. It is currently managed by Greater Anglia, which also operates all trains serving the station.


Colchester railway station in 1851, before its rebuilding in 1865
A train from Cambridge at Colchester in 1951

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

The ECR 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 railway to Norwich via Cambridge by the ECR.[4]

As passenger numbers passing through the station increased, particularly with growth on the Sunshine Coast Line, the layout 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 relatively sharp curve.

Prior to electrification of the lines, Colchester was modernised in 1962, with a new station building on the north side of the tracks. Following the reconstruction the station has two main platforms. The "up" (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. 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 and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. 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 platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.

The main ticket office is a modern glass-fronted design, sited on the north side of the station, and access to the platforms is via a subway. The previous 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 have automatic ticket gates.

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


  • On 12 July 1913, at approximately 3 pm, an express passenger train travelling at high speed collided with a light engine at Colchester due to a signalman's error.[5] Part of the passenger train was derailed. The train's driver, guard and fireman were killed and 14 passengers were injured.[6]


The following services typically call at Colchester:[7]

Operator Route Rolling stock Frequency
Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich - Diss - Norwich Class 90 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Chelmsford - Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich - Stowmarket - Diss - Norwich Class 90 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Shenfield - Chelmsford - Hatfield Peverel - Witham - Kelvedon - Marks Tey - Colchester - Manningtree - Ipswich Class 321, Class 360 1x per hour
Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Shenfield - Chelmsford - Witham - Colchester - Wivenhoe - Thorpe-le-Soken - Clacton-on-Sea Class 321, Class 360 1x per hour
Greater Anglia London Liverpool Street - Stratford - Romford - Shenfield - Ingatestone - Chelmsford - Witham - Kelvedon - Marks Tey - Colchester - Colchester Town Class 321, Class 360 1x per hour
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
Greater Anglia Colchester - Colchester Town Class 321 1x per hour
Two trains at Colchester station


  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. ^ Simon Webb (31 January 2013). The Colchester Book of Days. Perseus Books Group. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-0-7524-8908-7. 
  6. ^ Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 25. ISBN 0-906899-03-6. 
  7. ^ Table 11 National Rail timetable, May 2016

External links[edit]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Greater Anglia
Terminus Greater Anglia
Historical railways
Anglia Railways