Crewe railway station
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Platforms 5 and 6 at Crewe.
|Location||Crewe, Cheshire East|
|Managed by||Avanti West Coast|
|Classification||DfT category B|
|4 July 1837||Opened|
|Feature||1867 buildings at Crewe Railway Station|
|Designated||30 August 2016|
Crewe station is a major junction on the West Coast Main Line and serves as a rail gateway for North West England. It is 158 miles north of London Euston and 243 miles south of Glasgow Central. It is located at the point where the lines to Manchester Piccadilly and North Wales diverge from this route, and is the last major station before the branch to Liverpool Lime Street diverges. It is also served by lines to Stoke-on-Trent and Shrewsbury.
Crewe railway station has twelve platforms and a modern passenger entrance containing a bookshop and ticket office. Passengers access the platforms via a footbridge, stairs and lifts. The platforms buildings dating from the 19th century contain two bookshops, bars, buffets and waiting rooms. The last major expenditure on the station was in 1985 when the track layout was remodelled and station facilities updated.
Crewe station was the first station to have its own adjacent railway hotel: the Crewe Arms Hotel, built in 1838, and still in use. It was the first to be completely rebuilt owing to the need for expansion. It was the also first to have completely independent rail lines built around it to ease traffic congestion.
The station opened on 4 July 1837 on the Grand Junction Railway.:46 The purpose was to link the four largest cities of England by joining the existing Liverpool and Manchester Railway with the projected London & Birmingham Railway. The first long-distance railway in the world, it ran from Curzon Street railway station in Birmingham to Dallam in Warrington, Cheshire, where it made an end-on junction with the Warrington and Newton Railway, a branch of the L&M.
The station was built in the township of Crewe, which formed part of the ancient parish of Barthomley. The township later became a civil parish in its own right, and, later still, was renamed Crewe Green to avoid confusion with the town of Crewe, which was adjacent to it. The station was at the point where the line crossed the turnpike road linking the Trent and Mersey and the Shropshire Union Canals. Since the land was bought from the Earl of Crewe, whose mansion stood nearby, and it was located in the township of Crewe, the station was called Crewe. The railway station gave its name to the town of Crewe that was actually situated in the ancient parish of Coppenhall. In 1936, the railway station was transferred from the civil parish of Crewe to the then municipal borough of Crewe.
As soon as the station opened the Chester and Crewe Railway was formed to build a branch line to Chester and this company was absorbed by the GJR shortly before it opened to traffic in 1840. A locomotive depot was built to serve the Chester line, and to provide banking engines to assist trains southwards from Crewe up the Madeley Incline, a modest gradient which was a challenge to the small engines of the day.
By 1841, the Chester line was seen as a starting point for a new trunk line to the port of Holyhead, to provide the fastest route to Ireland, and the importance of Crewe as a junction station began to be established. This was given further endorsement when the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, a separate undertaking which had hoped to build a wholly independent line linking the two cities, shorter than the GJR, decided that it would be uneconomical to compete with that line over the greater part of its length, and decided to divert its own line to meet the GJR at Crewe. Teething squabbles between the companies delayed the running of through services for a while, and the M&B had to build a temporary station of their own, part of which survives today as an isolated platform next to the North Junction, at the start of the line to Manchester.
In 1842 the GJR decided to move its locomotive works from Edge Hill in Liverpool to Crewe, siting the works to the north of the junction between the Warrington and Chester lines. To house the workforce and company management the town of Crewe was built by the company to the north of the works.
London & North Western Railway
In 1846 the GJR merged with the London and Birmingham to form the London and North Western Railway Company, which until its demise in 1923 was the largest company in the world. The new company extended the existing lines to Holyhead, the Warrington line to Lancaster and Carlisle, the Manchester line to Leeds, and built the new Crewe and Shrewsbury Railway to Shrewsbury to join the joint GWR owned Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway, which provided connections to South Wales. The North Staffordshire Railway built a line from Stoke-on-Trent, joining the LNWR from the South East. Crewe was the centre of a wide-ranging railway network, and freight-handling facilities grew up to the south of the station.
To cope with the increase of traffic, the station was rebuilt in 1867 (according to WH Chaloner), the buildings facing each other on the present platforms 5 and 6 dating from this time, and built under the supervision of William Baker. The listing by English Heritage describes them as:
mirrored design with bowed projections for the platform inspectors' offices, the 'greybeard' keystones and vivid polychromy ... one of the best pieces of mid-C19 platform architecture designed anywhere on the LNWR network, and as rare surviving examples nationally of buildings of a major junction station of this period.
At the same time the works was redeveloped and enlarged and the town also enlarged under the leadership of John Ramsbottom, a Stockport man who had become Locomotive Superintendent. Locomotive construction, hitherto divided with Wolverton (on the London and Birmingham Railway) was concentrated at Crewe. Ramsbottom also built a steelworks, the first in the world to make large-scale use of the Bessemer process, as only the LNWR required enough steel to keep a Bessemer plant continuously occupied. He also introduced mass-production techniques, whereby as many parts as possible were identical between one engine and another.
Ramsbottom retired in 1871 and was succeeded by the legendary Frank Webb, a colourful and controversial figure who was known as 'The Uncrowned King of Crewe'.
By the 1890s a survey revealed 1,000 trains passing within a 24-hour period. Half of these were freight trains which did not need to call at the station, so the company decided to build a separate four-track railway line passing to the west of the station, joining the existing lines beyond the north and south junctions, burrowing beneath them and avoiding them completely. Plans for the "independent lines" were approved in 1895 and construction lasted from 1896 to 1901. Over 1,000 labourers were employed on what was known as the "big dig" at a cost about £500,000 (equivalent to £54,680,000 in 2019). This undertaking also included a marshalling yard to the south of the station at Basford Hall, a revolutionary 'tranship shed' which allowed fast transfer of freight from wagons to road vehicles under cover. The station was enlarged between 1903 and 1907, by providing eight through platforms each a quarter of a mile long. The cost of the improvements was £1,000,000 (equivalent to £106,570,000 in 2019).
London Midland and Scottish Railway
In 1923 the LNWR became part of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway group. Crewe remained the major centre for locomotive construction. In 1938-39 the signal boxes at North and South Junctions were completely reconstructed as massive concrete structures to withstand air raids, and remained in use until the resignalling project in 1985. The North Junction signal box can now be visited as part of the Crewe Heritage Centre. Although the railway station is virtually synonymous with the town of Crewe, it was not actually incorporated within the borders of the borough of Crewe until the late 1930s, as it lies about 1 mile to the south east of the actual town centre.
With the exception of two new signal boxes and associated greatly improved colour light signalling, track circuiting and electrically operated track points, train operation at Crewe changed little in over fifty years. The trains did become longer and heavier and were hauled by larger engines, which required increased supplies of water to be taken on board before departure, but the number of passenger trains using Crewe Station and the method of operation did not vary greatly despite the passage of two world wars. Trains continued to divide at Crewe with the front portion for Manchester and the rear for Liverpool. The station pilot engine always had a pair of restaurant cars in a bay platform ready to attach to a morning service to London. Always there were extra coaches waiting to be attached to overcrowded trains. In addition to passengers there were vast quantities of mail, parcels and even live animals and birds of all descriptions transported in specially designed transit crates. When necessary the station staff had to feed and water these special passengers, which travelled in copious luggage vans.
In 1948 the LMS was nationalised as British Railways, London Midland Region. Nationalisation greatly facilitated the modernisation of British Railways and, after a false start developing new improved steam engines, electrification came, along with diesel power and fixed-formation air-braked trains. These changes had a significant effect on Crewe station. Notably, the variation in station use caused firstly by the electrification in stages of the West Coast Main Line between 1959 and 1974 and secondly by the general end of steam traction on Britain's railways. Following the completion of electrification in 1974, trains did not need to change locomotives at Crewe, except for the London to Chester and Holyhead service. Many locomotive hauled trains were replaced by electric or diesel multiple unit trains, with much faster turn-round times. Additionally, two local branch lines had closed, which resulted in fewer trains terminating at Crewe. However, compensating for the decline of local passenger traffic, the reduction in mail and parcels traffic and the total elimination of livestock carriage, came the great increase in inter-city passenger traffic and the need for even faster, smoother and more efficient handling of passenger trains.
In 1963 the architects to the London Midland Region of British Railways provided a Porte-cochère at the passenger entrance on Nantwich Road. It was constructed of eight laminated wood Hyperbolic paraboloid shells. This was replaced between 1983–85 with the current steel structure.
In 1985 in a £14.3 million scheme, the track layout was modernised and simplified, eliminating many points and crossings and allowing 80 mph (130 km/h) running over the North Junction. At the same time all but one of the six 1902 extension platforms were taken out of use. Four Class 40 locomotives were reallocated to this work in 1985, and were renumbered as 97405–97408 for the engineering duties.
In 2007 Network Rail published a proposal to replace the existing Crewe station with a new station located approximately 1 mile to the south. A "Crewe Town" station was also proposed nearer the town centre on the Chester line, with a shuttle service to the new main station. In 2009 the station was identified as one of the ten worst category B interchange stations for mystery shopper assessment of fabric and environment.
The proposal to move the station was abandoned in 2010 and instead the current building was renovated. Cheshire East Council implemented a regeneration master plan for Crewe, which included the station.
In 2011 Cheshire East Council purchased the former Royal Mail depot and Weston House for £2.75 million. The council demolished the two buildings and created a new entrance to the station, as well as a 244 space car park, at a cost of £7 million. The construction work was undertaken by Balfour Beatty. The new entrance has step-free access & connects passengers to the station through an underground walkway. There is a ticket vending machine at this entrance, as well as unmanned ticket barriers.
In August 2016 the station buildings of 1867 were added to the National Heritage List for England as a Grade II listed building. The structures included in the listing comprise two station buildings on separate platforms, and two screen walls, one to the east and the other to the west of the station.
A new platform will be built on the Manchester independent lines to the west of the station, meaning that services will not have to cross the West Coast Main Line from Manchester Piccadilly or the Marches Line to South Wales.
Following the Crewe Hub consultation, which ran from July to October 2017, it is planned that up to 5 to 7 trains per hour will stop at Crewe; plans for a new service to Manchester via Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield are also proposed. This will be made possible by extending the existing platform 5 to 400 metres, allowing services to split and serve these additional destinations. It is also planned that a new transfer deck will be built; this will allow passengers to change between the proposed new Manchester independent lines platform and the existing Crewe station. 
Rail network in the Crewe area
During the day, there are 23 trains passing through every hour (with additional less frequent services). As a summary:
- 5tph to London Euston, of which:
- 4tph are fast services operated by Avanti West Coast:
- 1tph is a semi-fast service via Stafford, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes Central, operated by West Midlands Trains (branded as London Northwestern)
- 3tph to Birmingham New Street, of which:
- 1tph is operated by Avanti West Coast and continues to London Euston, as noted above.
- 2tph are operated by West Midlands Trains (branded as London Northwestern)
- 2tph to Stoke-on-Trent
- 3tp2h to Shrewsbury, operated by Transport for Wales, of which:
- Transport for Wales operate 3 trains per day to Birmingham: 1 via Stafford and 2 indirectly via Shrewsbury.
- CrossCountry operate 1 train per day to Bristol Temple Meads and 2 trains per day to Bournemouth
- Caledonian Sleeper operate 1 train per day to London Euston, but this service is for set-down only and not for boarding passengers.
- 4tph to Manchester Piccadilly, of which:
- 2tph are fast, calling only at Wilmslow and Stockport
- 1tph is a stopping service via Stockport, operated by Northern Trains
- 1tph is a stopping service to Liverpool Lime Street via Manchester Airport, operated by Northern
- 4tph to Liverpool Lime Street, of which:
- 1tph to Scotland, heading alternately to either Glasgow Central or Edinburgh Waverley, operated by Avanti West Coast
- 2tph to Chester, of which
- CrossCountry operate 1 train a day to Manchester Piccadilly
- Caledonian Sleeper operate 1 train a day to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. Operates as one train, divides at Edinburgh. (Pick-Up Only)
- Platform 1 - Northern Trains stopping services to and from Manchester Piccadilly and occasionally Avanti West Coast northbound services to Manchester Piccadilly and Avanti West Coast southbound services to London Euston.
- Platform 2 - Extra capacity.
- Platform 3 - East Midlands Railway services to and from Derby.
- Platform 4 - West Midlands Trains (London Northwestern) services to and from London Euston.
- Platform 5 - Avanti West Coast northbound services to Manchester Piccadilly and southbound to Birmingham New Street and London Euston, West Midlands Trains services to Birmingham New Street, Transport for Wales services to Cardiff, CrossCountry services to Bournemouth and Bristol Temple Meads.
- Platform 6 - Transport for Wales services northbound to Manchester Piccadilly and southbound to Cardiff and beyond. Some Avanti West Coast northbound services to Preston and Glasgow Central and southbound to London Euston also use this platform along with a CrossCountry service to Manchester Piccadilly.
- Platform 7 - West Midlands Trains (London Northwestern) services to London Euston via Rugeley Trent Valley
- Platform 8 - Transport for Wales stopping services to and from Shrewsbury.
- Platform 9 - Transport for Wales services to Chester and Holyhead.
- Platform 10 - Extra capacity.
- Platform 11 - Avanti West Coast northbound services to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Chester and North Wales. West Midlands Trains (London Northwestern) northbound services to Liverpool Lime Street.
- Platform 12 - Extra capacity.
- Annual estimated intercity rail passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at this station from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
- Historic England, "1867 buildings at Crewe Railway Station (1436435)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 26 August 2016
- "Opening of the Grand Junction Railway". London Evening Standard. England. 5 July 1837. Retrieved 7 June 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- Guardian newspaper article, The beauty of Crewe (6 December 2005). Retrieval Date: 10 August 2007.
- "Crewe History". Crewe Chronicle. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- "Crewe Station gets its first-ever official ghost tour". BBC News. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Drake, James (1838). Drake’s Road Book of the Grand Junction Railway (1838). Moorland Reprints. ISBN 0903485257.
- Chambers (2007, pp. 76, 94); Dunn (1987, p. 26); Ollerhead (2008, pp. 7, 10, 16). "Crewe (near Wybunbury)". GENUKI (UK & Ireland Genealogy). Retrieved 3 February 2009.. The unusual relationship between the town of Crewe and the civil parish of Crewe, mediated by the railway station, is described in the following riddle: "The place which is Crewe is not Crewe, and the place which is not Crewe is Crewe."Curran et al. (1984, p. 2).
- "Railway Extensions at Crewe". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 18 March 1896. Retrieved 5 December 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- WH Challoner's Social & Economic Development of Crewe 1780-1923[full citation needed]
- UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
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- "Crewe' Million Pound Station". Lancashire Evening Post. England. 3 June 1907. Retrieved 5 December 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
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- "Station could be moved". BBC News. 2 July 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "£50m revamp for 'worst stations'". BBC News. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- King, Emma (15 June 2010). "Crewe station revamp scrapped by coalition Government". The Sentinel. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
- "Crewe Vision". Sandbach: Cheshire East Council. Archived from the original on 13 September 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
- "£6.5m plan for Crewe Railway Station on track". Stoke Sentinel. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- "Cheshire East News (September 2012); downloaded from". Archived from the original on 9 March 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Crewe railway station revamp to get under way". BBC News. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Wilson, James (2 July 2014). "New £7million railway exchange unveiled in town". Crewe Chronicle. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- "HS2: High-speed rail route phase two details announced". BBC News. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- "Policy paper. Operations: HS2 Phase 2a information papers". Department for Transport. UK Government. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- Smale, Katherine (13 March 2018). "Transfer deck to be built over Crewe station". New Civil Engineer. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Crewe Hub. Consultation Response" (PDF). Department for Transport. UK Government. March 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- Table 65 National Rail timetable, May 2018
- Table 50 National Rail timetable, May 2018
- Table 131 National Rail timetable, May 2016
- Table 51 National Rail timetable, May 2018
- Table 84 National Rail timetable, May 2018
- Table 91 National Rail timetable, May 2018
- Table 81 National Rail timetable, May 2018
- Chambers, S (2007), Crewe: A history, Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore, ISBN 978-1-86077-472-0
- Curran, H; Gilsenan, M; Owen, B; Owen, J (1984), Change at Crewe, Chester: Cheshire Libraries and Museums
- Dunn, F. I. (1987), The ancient parishes, townships and chapelries of Cheshire, Chester: Cheshire Record Office and Cheshire Diocesan Record Office, ISBN 0-906758-14-9
- Langston, K (2006), Made in Crewe: 150 years of engineering excellence, Horncastle, Lincolnshire: Mortons Media Group, ISBN 978-0-9552868-0-3
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- Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (2014). Crewe to Manchester. West Sussex: Middleton Press. figs. 1-9. ISBN 9781908174574. OCLC 892047119.
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