Leicester railway station

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Leicester National Rail
Leicester Rail Station - geograph.org.uk - 1266728.jpg
Leicester railway station as seen from London Road (Northern Entrance)
Place Leicester
Local authority City of Leicester
Coordinates 52°37′55″N 1°07′26″W / 52.632°N 1.124°W / 52.632; -1.124Coordinates: 52°37′55″N 1°07′26″W / 52.632°N 1.124°W / 52.632; -1.124
Grid reference SK593041
Station code LEI
Managed by East Midlands Trains
Number of platforms 4
DfT category B
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2012/13 Decrease 4.797 million
2013/14 Increase 4.853 million
2014/15 Increase 5.052 million
2015/16 Increase 5.247 million
2016/17 Increase 5.423 million
Original company Midland Counties Railway
Pre-grouping Midland Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
5 May 1840 Opened as Leicester
1 June 1867 Renamed Leicester Campbell Street
12 June 1892 Renamed Leicester London Road
1894 Rebuilt
5 May 1969 Renamed Leicester
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Leicester from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Leicester railway station (formerly Leicester London Road) is a railway station serving the city of Leicester in Leicestershire, England. It was originally opened in 1840 by the Midland Counties Railway, and rebuilt in 1894 and 1978. Today it is operated by East Midlands Trains, and it is on the main line from London St Pancras to Sheffield and Nottingham.


The station featured in the Midland Counties Railway Companion of 1840
The façade as seen from London Road in 1856

The first station on the site opened on 5 May 1840. It was originally known simply as Leicester, becoming Leicester Campbell Street on 1 June 1867, and Leicester London Road from 12 June 1892.[1] This was replaced in 1894 by a new station, also called Leicester London Road. Following the closure of Central on 5 May 1969, this station was renamed Leicester.[1] Besides London Road and Central, the city of Leicester was served by Belgrave Road, Humberstone Road and West Bridge railway stations.


Leicester station in the 1900s

Leicester was one of the first cities (though then a town) to be served by a railway, when the Leicester and Swannington Railway built its terminus station at West Bridge on the western side of Leicester in 1832.[2] The Leicester and Swannington Railway was later absorbed by the Midland Railway.

In total Leicester had seven railway stations (eight if the two sites at West Bridge are treated separately). In addition to the current Leicester station three other main railway stations existed. The original station at West Bridge closed to passengers in 1928. Leicester Belgrave Road (on the Great Northern Railway) closed to passengers in 1962 and Leicester Central (on the Great Central Railway) closed in May 1969. Up until this time the current Leicester station was known as Leicester London Road.

In addition there were smaller stations within the city boundary at Humberstone Road on the LMS, Humberstone on the GNR, and from 1874 until 1918 a halt at Welford Road was operated on the Leicester – London main line allowing access to the Cattle Market. At this halt passengers were allowed to leave the trains but not to board them.

The station buildings[edit]

Detail of frontage

The contract for the first station on the present site was awarded by the Midland Counties Railway to Waterfield and Smith, and was just under £15,000[3] (equivalent to £1,242,900 in 2016).[4]

It was first used on 4 May 1840, when a train of four first and six second-class carriages, pulled by the Leopard steam engine, arrived from Nottingham. As was normal in those days with a through station, the original plan was to build it to the side of the main line, but instead it was finally built on the main line with a single platform 165 yards long to handle both northbound and southbound trains. The station was designed by William Parsons in the Grecian Revival style, with a two storey main building which was embellished with a central pediment set forward on fluted columns in front. This was flanked by short single-storey wings. It was the headquarters of the Midland Counties Railway until that railway was amalgamated into the Midland Railway in 1844. Upstairs were the company offices and boardroom, while downstairs was the booking hall, waiting and refreshment rooms.[5]

The opening of new routes to Leicester led to steadily increasing traffic, and by 1858 a second platform had been built to handle southbound traffic, so leaving the original platform to handle northbound traffic.[6] In 1868 it was decided to turn the southbound platform into an island platform to further increase capacity, but this was not possible with the northbound platform due to the presence of the main buildings and station entrance.

Further expansion was contemplated for some time, but it was not until 1890 that the go ahead was given for Campbell Street station to be replaced by the present Leicester railway station. All that remains of the first station is a pair of gateposts in an Egyptian style at the end of Station Street. The offices for Royal Mail now occupy some of the site of the old station buildings on Campbell Street.

The Midland Railway completely rebuilt the station between 1892 and 1894 to a design by the architect Charles Trubshaw.[7] The new booking office was opened by the mayor in June 1892 when it was renamed Leicester London Road. The station was completed in 1894.[6] The frontage on London Road featured four entrance archways. Above each of the left-hand pair the word "Departure" was inscribed; and above each of the other two, the word "Arrival" was carved in relief. These signs were to assist cab drivers when dropping passengers who intended to catch departing trains, or were plying for hire by passengers who had arrived by train.

The new station frontage on London Road remains as a well-preserved late Victorian building, but the interior of the booking hall and the structures on the platforms were reconstructed by Sir Robert McAlpine in 1978.[8]

The station clock is the only hand-wound station clock in the UK.[9]

A commemorative statue of Thomas Cook was placed on the pavement outside the present station in 1991 to mark the first excursions arranged by the travel agency magnate. It was sculpted by James Butler.

London, Midland and Scottish Railway[edit]

Until the line from Matlock to Chinley through Millers Dale was closed in the Beeching era, the 'main lines' were those from London to Manchester, carrying named expresses such as The Palatine. Express trains to Leeds and Scotland such as the Thames-Clyde Express tended to use the Erewash Valley Line before proceeding on to the Settle and Carlisle Line. Expresses to Edinburgh, such as The Waverley travelled through Corby and Nottingham.

View over the Down side of the station 1962
View northwards, towards Derby and Nottingham in 1961
Platform level in 1974, before rebuilding

British Railways[edit]

When Sectorisation was introduced in the 1980s, the station was served by the Intercity Sector until the Privatisation of British Railways.

With the advent of power signalling in 1986, the signal box and the crossovers disappeared, and the tracks approaching the station were relaid to allow trains from any direction to enter or leave any platform.


Upon the privatisation of British Rail, the station became owned by Railtrack and later Network Rail, though, in common with most British railway stations, the day-to-day operation was contracted out to the largest user of the station, in this case Midland Mainline (East Midlands Trains' predecessor). Midland Mainline continued to refurbish the station with the installation of a large electronic departure board in the station entrance hall and smaller boards on all platforms.

In 2006, work was started on the installation of automatic ticket gates to cut down on Fare evasion. Leicester City Council issued plans for the redevelopment of the station and the surrounding area including a total of eight platforms.

East Midlands Trains intends to refurbish the First Class lounge, Standard waiting rooms and re-paint the whole station in late 2010[needs update] which will follow the re-surfacing of the platforms which took place throughout 2010.[10]

Station Masters[edit]

  • Samuel Tyas/Tyers 1840 - 1860[11]
  • G.H. Smart 1860 - 1864
  • Robert Michie 1867 - 1896[12] (formerly station master at Newark Castle)
  • S.M. Bramley 1896 - 1901
  • William Orton 1901 - 1903
  • Richard William Mapp 1903 – 1919[13] (formerly station master at Gloucester)
  • C.W. Jones 1919 - 1931[14] (formerly station master at Kettering)
  • W. A. Soden 1931 - 1932[15] (formerly station master at Stoke, afterwards station master at Carlisle)
  • W. Lewis 1932 - 1940[16] (formerly station master at Lincoln)
  • Charles Edward Fry 1940 - 1943 (formerly station master at Huddersfield, afterwards station master at Leeds))

Station amenities[edit]

East Midlands Trains High Speed Train awaits departure to London from platform 3 after arriving from Leeds.

The main entrance to the station is on London Road. The ticket office and travel centre are located in the concourse; the lost property office and lockers were formerly located here also although East Midlands Trains took these facilities away in 2009 citing cost and the recession. This concourse gives access to the main station overbridge to all platforms, and via a corridor to the lifts. There is a footbridge at the northern end of the station giving access to the long-stay car park and Campbell Street.

The station is based on two island platforms which are wide with a long series of buildings. There is a newsagent and several food outlets including a licensed restaurant. There are also toilets and a large waiting room.

Midland Mainline erected a first class lounge at the southern end of the up island platforms during 2000. Passenger information systems were updated at the same time and now use dot matrix display screens. Leicester has automated announcements, which replaced the previous manual public address system on 5 September 2011. In 2006 automatic ticket barriers were installed on all approaches to the station, these were complemented with ticket vending machines and additional FastTicket machines.

The station has an office for the British Transport Police and Cash point in the porte-cochere as well as a taxi rank and short-stay drop-off and pick-up area.


A Map of East Midlands Trains InterCity services showing the current service pattern each hour

Routes run north-south through Leicester on the Midland Main Line, south to Kettering, Bedford, Luton and London; and north to Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Sheffield and Leeds. Junctions north and south of the station serve the east-west cross country route, going east to Peterborough, Cambridge and Stansted Airport; and west to Nuneaton and Birmingham.

Leicester station is owned by Network Rail and operated under a franchise by East Midlands Trains. Most services are provided by East Midlands Trains, with CrossCountry operating on the Birmingham to Stansted Airport corridor. Due to a 15 mph maximum speed to the south of the station, all passenger trains stop at the station. Up until the winter 2008 timetable, the morning southbound The Master Cutler express from Leeds to London St Pancras was an exception although this now also calls.

Leicester is a bottleneck station as it has only four platforms. All platforms are well utilised, especially platforms two and three which receive freight as well as passenger trains. A freight loop goes to the east of the station alongside the carriage sidings which run adjacent to platform four.

Leicester is a Penalty fare station, a valid ticket or Permit to travel must be shown when requested. The station offers the Plusbus scheme which allows bus and train tickets to be bought together at a saving.[17]


Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
CrossCountry Terminus
East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains
Terminus East Midlands Trains
  Historical railways  
Terminus   Midland Railway
Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line
  Kirby Muxloe
Line open, station closed


Leicester Campbell Street station, as seen from London Road in 1856
Leicester London Road station entrance in 1890 as newly built

Regeneration of the station[edit]

Prospect Leicestershire led plans which aimed to regenerate the city centre area of Leicester, the station was to be incorporated into a new business quarter.[18] Plans for the station included to rotate the passengers facilities so that they exited into a new open city plaza rather than the current busy ring road. Renewed plans were released in 2008 for the £150 million redevelopment, promising over 2,800 new jobs in the area due to the new shops and offices which would be created.[19] However, the 2008–2012 global recession also saw these plans fail to materialise. Network Rail and East Midlands Trains started work on a £3.5 million scheme in 2012.[20] Platforms have been resurfaced, toilets and both first and standard class waiting areas refurbished. However, the majority of work has taken place in the concourse and porte corche area where a new travel centre is being provided, increased retail facilities and separation between cars and people.

Network Rail adopted a Route Utilisation Strategy for freight in 2007[21] which will create a new cross country freight route from Peterborough (East Coast Main Line) to Nuneaton (West Coast Main Line). One of the next stages (around 2013) will create additional lines through Leicester during a re-signalling scheme. During this period additional platforms may be provided at Leicester.[22]


See also Electrification of the Midland Main Line

The railway through Leicester is not electrified. Plans to carry out electrification of the Midland Mainline were finally cancelled[23] on 20 July 2017, after being previously announced,[24] commenced,[25] suspended[26] and resumed.[27] From 2022, services will be operated using bi-mode electro-diesel trains running in electro-pantograph mode between London St Pancras and Kettering North Junction, switching to electro-accumulator/diesel-electric mode northwards from there.[23]

Ivanhoe Line[edit]

After phase one of the Ivanhoe Line was completed in the mid-1990s, it was originally planned that phase two would extend the line west to Burton upon Trent on the current freight-only line via Coalville and Ashby-de-la-Zouch. The possibility was studied in 2008[28] and again in 2016 but in both cases the conclusion was that the cost was not justified by the benefits.

The most recent study, in 2016, costed the work at up to £175 million and claimed that an additional 206,000 houses would need to be built along the route to generate enough passengers to make the line profitable.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 141. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508. 
  2. ^ "Leicester". spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2008. 
  3. ^ "Midland Counties' Railway". Railway Times. 2 (85): 626. 17 August 1839. 
  4. ^ 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 6 November 2017. 
  5. ^ Billson, P., (1996) Derby and the Midland Railway Derby: Breedon Books
  6. ^ a b >Gough, J., (1980) Leicester (London Road) Station, in Williams, D. (ed.) The Adaption of Change: Essays upon the History of 19th Century Leicester and Leicestershire Leicester: Leicestershire Museums
  7. ^ Gough, J., (1980) Leicester (London Road) Station, in Williams, D. (ed.) The Adaption of Change: Essays upon the History of 19th Century Leicester and Leicestershire Leicester: Leicestershire Museums
  8. ^ "UK stations have facelift". Railway Engineer International. Vol. 3-5. Mechanical Engineering Publications, Limited. 1978. p. 15. 
  9. ^ "Station upgrade - then and now". Leicester Mercury. 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2016-03-05. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Impact>Station Improvements coming soon" (PDF). East Midlands Trains. September 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2010. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Midland Railway". Leicester Chronicle. England. 25 August 1860. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ "A Veteran Stationmaster". Yorkshire Evening Post. England. 22 October 1896. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ "Death of an M.R. Stationmaster". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 18 March 1919. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ "Death of L.M.S. Stationmaster". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 8 June 1931. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "The London Midland and Scottish Railway". Edinburgh Evening News. Scotland. 11 July 1932. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ "Mr. C.E. Fry". Grantham Journal. Scotland. 8 November 1940. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "Leicester PLUSBUS". Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "City Centre Masterplan > New Business Quarter". Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. 
  19. ^ "Plans for £150m station facelift". BBC News. 6 March 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  20. ^ "All change! Sneak preview of Leicester railway station's revamp". This Is Leicestershire. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012. [permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Route Utilisation Strategy > Freight". 
  22. ^ "East Midlands". Network Rail. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  23. ^ a b "Sheffield, Swansea and Windermere electrification cancelled". Railway Gazette. 20 July 2017. 
  24. ^ "Investing in rail, investing in jobs and growth" (Press release). Department for Transport. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Midland Main Line closures for bridge works ahead of electrification". Rail Technology Magazine. 11 Sep 2014. 
  26. ^ "Today's House of Commons debates – Thursday 25 June 2015: Network Rail". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  27. ^ "Electrification of train lines to be restarted by Network Rail". BBC News. 30 September 2015. 
  28. ^ "A blow to Ivanhoe hopes". Leicester Mercury. 3 December 2008. Archived from the original on 16 June 2009. 
  29. ^ Ashe, Isaac (2 June 2016). "Reopening of Ivanhoe Line between Leicester and Burton unlikely to get funding says Leicestershire County Council". The Hinckley Times. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 

External links[edit]