Fen Line

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Fen Line
365537 passing through Runcton Holme.JPG
365537 passing through Runcton Holme, Norfolk
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale East of England
Termini Cambridge
King's Lynn
Stations 7
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Great Northern
Abellio Greater Anglia
Character Secondary\London & South-East[1]
Rolling stock Class 317
Class 365 "Networker"
Class 379 "Electrostar"[2]
Class 170 "Turbostar"[1]
Number of tracks One - Two
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV AC OHLE
Operating speed 90 mph (145 km/h) maximum[3]
Fen Line
King's Lynn
96 mi 75 ch
156.01 km
to Hunstanton
to Middleton Towers
to King's Lynn Harbour
Harbour Junction
Midland and Great Northern Railway
St Germain's
90 mi 69 ch
146.23 km
Wisbech Line
to Wisbech East
Stow Bardolph
Downham Market
86 mi 08 ch
138.56 km
Downham and Stoke Ferry Railway
Cut off channel
River Wissey
River Little Ouse
Ouse Bridge
76 mi 02 ch
122.35 km
Breckland Line
Ely to Peterborough Line
Queen Adelaide Loop
River Great Ouse
70 mi 30 ch
113.26 km
Ipswich to Ely Line
61 mi 01 ch
98.19 km
Cambridge North(under construction)
Cambridge & St. Ives Branch Line
River Cam
Cambridge to Mildenhall railway
Ipswich to Ely Line
55 mi 52 ch
89.56 km
Varsity Line
Shepreth Branch Junction
Cambridge Line
West Anglia Main Line

The Fen Line is a railway in the United Kingdom that runs between the cities of Cambridge and Ely Cambridgeshire and the town of King's Lynn, Norfolk; the line is so called because it runs through The Fens. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5 and comprises SRS 05.06 and part of 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.[1]


Great Northern[edit]

Great Northern operate through services to London King's Cross (via the Cambridge Line). These services operate non-stop between London and Cambridge for most of the day, as part of the half-hourly "Cambridge Express" service. One train an hour is extended beyond Cambridge to serve all stations to King's Lynn.

These services usually use Class 365 electrical multiple units. Three Class 365 EMUs have received names associated with the line:

  • The Fenman (365 518) - previously a "named train" that used to operate on this line, consisting of locomotive-hauled InterCity (British Rail) trains;
  • Robert Stripe Passengers' Champion (365 527) was named on 10 March 2006, after the 21st Anniversary of the Fen Line Users Association;
  • Nelson's County (365 531) had a special livery applied to the outside which shows various scenes of West Norfolk.

Abellio Greater Anglia[edit]

Abellio Greater Anglia regularly runs services between Cambridge and Norwich on an hourly basis via the Breckland Line, running non-stop between Ely and Cambridge. Class 170 units are typically used for this service.

In addition to this, Abellio Greater Anglia operate a few direct services between London Liverpool Street and King's Lynn or Ely (via the West Anglia Main Line). These services operate only run during the morning and evening peaks, and use Class 317 and Class 379[2] units.


The section between Cambridge and Ely is also used non-stop by CrossCountry services to Stansted Airport. (and onward to Birmingham New Street via Peterborough)


The line is double tracked except between Littleport and Downham Market and between Watlington and King's Lynn where it is bi-directionally signalled single track. In the Down direction, the entrance to the single line sections is protected additionally by SPAD indicators.

Signal boxes controlling the line are;

  • Cambridge power box
  • Littleport
  • Downham Market
  • Magdalen Road (Watlington)
  • King's Lynn

The signalling system is Track circuit block with multiple aspect colour light signals- with the exception of:


Traction current for electric trains is provided by 25 kV AC OHLE controlled by Romford Electrical Control Room.[5] There are Neutral Sections at Shepreth Branch junction, Milton Fen and just north of Littleport bypass. The line 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.[1]

Passenger volume[edit]

These are the statistics of the numbers of passengers on the line from the year beginning April 2002 to the year beginning April 2013. Comparing each station between the first and last years, King's Lynn has increased by 53%, Watlington by 105%, Downham Market by 85%, Littleport by 138%, Ely by 90%, Waterbeach by 95% and Cambridge by 79%.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d "Route 5 - West Anglia" (PDF). Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  2. ^ a b Rail Magazine. 673 Page 37. June 29 – July 12, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Network Rail (August 2006). East Anglia Route Sectional Appendix. Module EA. p. 109 LOR EA1162 Seq007. NR30018/02. 
  4. ^ Network Rail (August 2006). East Anglia Route Sectional Appendix. Module EA. p. 110 LOR EA1270 Seq001. NR30018/02. 
  5. ^ Network Rail (August 2006). East Anglia Route Sectional Appendix. Module EA. p. 110 LOR EA1161 Seq008. NR30018/02. 
  6. ^ "Station Usage". Rail Statistics. Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 

Furrther reading[edit]

  • Perren, Brian (19 October – 1 November 1989). "Electrification to King's Lynn". RAIL. No. 107. EMAP National Publications. pp. 40–43. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Fen Line at Wikimedia Commons