Leighton Buzzard railway station
|Local authority||Central Bedfordshire|
|Managed by||London Northwestern Railway|
|Number of platforms||4|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections|
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Original company||London and Birmingham Railway|
|9 April 1838||Opened as Leighton|
|14 February 1859||Rebuilt 160m to the south|
|1 July 1911||Renamed Leighton Buzzard|
|6 February 1967||Goods services withdrawn|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Leighton Buzzard from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
Leighton Buzzard railway station serves the Leighton Buzzard and Linslade area of Bedfordshire and nearby parts of Buckinghamshire. Actually situated in Linslade, the station is 40 miles (64 km) north west of London Euston and is served by London Northwestern Railway services on the West Coast Main Line. Until the 1960s the station was the start of a branch to Dunstable and Luton, with a junction just south of the present station. The station has four platforms. Platforms 1 & 2 serve the fast lines and are used by Virgin Trains services running non-stop to/from London Euston. Platforms 3 & 4 are served by slower London Northwestern railway services to/from London Euston and by Southern services between East Croydon and Milton Keynes Central.
The first station simply known as Leighton was opened by the London and Birmingham Railway on 9 April 1838 as part of the first section of its line from London Euston to Denbigh Hall. The line had originally been planned to pass through Buckingham but opposition from the Duke of Buckingham ensured that it forced east through Linslade. A station with two-facing platforms was opened a ¼-mile south of the Linslade tunnels. These are arranged unusually for a four track main line: the southbound slow line has a tunnel to itself as does the northbound fast line, however the northbound slow and southbound fast lines share a tunnel. This stems from the fact that the line was built as double-track and when quadrupled, the two extra lines could only be placed along both sides, as single-track tunnels.
In May 1848, the station became a junction when a branch line to Dunstable was opened. The London and North Western Railway replaced the first station in February 1859 by another more permanent structure located 8 chains (160 m) to the south. The new building had an imposing frontage featuring arched windows. Access to the Dunstable branch was controlled by Leighton No. 2 signal box situated to the north of the station, while the actual branch signals were controlled by the main line box to the south. In 1874, land was purchased to the south of the station alongside the Dunstable branch for the construction of goods sidings, which eventually became known as Wing Yard.
The LNWR was absorbed by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in the 1923 railway grouping and, in 1927, it added a crossover between the fast and slow lines. This was to play a significant role in the derailment of Royal Scot No. 6114 "Coldstream Guardsman" at Linslade on 22 March 1931 when the driver took the crossover at 50–60 mph instead of the regulation 15 mph. There had been a diversion in place on the fast lines and the driver had missed the warning signals. The engine overturned and six people were killed including the driver and fireman. The Scotland amateur football team was on the train, but remained unscathed.
In 1957-8 the platform buildings were rebuilt and a concrete awning placed over the platform. At the entrance a larger booking / waiting hall, central heating, electric lighting and the cycle storage, parcels and loading bay were improved.
The Great Train Robbery of 1963 occurred just south of this station, at near Ledburn, at a bridge on the southbound stretch towards Cheddington. Wing Yard was closed in February 1967 and it is now used as a car park, while the branch to Dunstable was closed from June. In 1989, the platforms were lengthened to accommodate 12-coach trains and a £1.8m project to rebuild the station was started.
Motive Power Depot
The station is served by London Northwestern Railway and Southern, and is managed by West Midland Trains. Southbound, three London Northwestern Railway trains depart per hour on weekdays, one of which runs non-stop to London. Additionally, one Southern train per hour runs to East Croydon. Northbound, two trains an hour run to Milton Keynes Central, one from London Northwestern Railway and the other from Southern, one train per hour to Northampton and two trains an hour to Birmingham New Street. There is also one train on weekdays to and from Crewe and some services to/from Crewe on Sundays.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
Milton Keynes Central
|London Northwestern Railway
London commuter service
|Bletchley||London Northwestern Railway
|Terminus||London and North Western Railway
Dunstable Branch Line
Line and station closed
Leighton Buzzard station is served by several local buses. The F70 bus route, operated by Arriva, provides a direct Bus rapid transit service to Luton via the Luton to Dunstable Busway, with an onward connection to Luton Airport.
Reinstating the connection to Luton
There have been past proposals about reopening the route to Luton when little of it had been lost to new construction, as either a rail link or as a guided busway. Although there is now a guided busway between Dunstable and Luton, much of the Leighton Buzzard to Dunstable section was lost to the Leighton Buzzard Southern Bypass.
Accidents and incidents
On 22 March 1931, a passenger train was derailed due to excessive speed through a crossover. Six people were killed.
The station played host to a tragic event on 11 April 2011 when a 43-year-old woman named Rachel James, from Uxbridge, Middlesex, kissed an elderly passenger aboard the 16.25 Northampton to London Euston service which was approaching the station from the north, and set fire to herself within the confines of a train toilet with a can of explosive gas. The train immediately stopped at the station and the passengers were evacuated. The unusual suicide method caused great distress to the passengers and closed the West Coast Main Line for several hours whilst emergency services attended to the fire.
- Butt 1995, p. 141.
- Leleux 1984, p. 19.
- Simpson 1998, p. 7.
- Oppitz 2000, p. 100.
- Woodward & Woodward 2008, fig. 2.
- Woodward & Woodward 2008, fig. 4.
- Simpson 1998, p. 83.
- Leleux 1984, p. 240.
- Simpson 1998, p. 36.
- "A Celebration – 100 Years of the SAFA" (PDF). p. 17. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
- Railway Magazine December 1957 p. 883
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- Roger Griffiths and Paul Smith, The directory of British engine sheds:1 (Oxford Publishing Co., 1999), p.119. ISBN 0 86093 542 6.
- GB eNRT December 2015 Edition, Table 66 (Network Rail)
- "Routes & Timetables". Busway. Luton Borough Council. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
- "Bus timetables and bus routes". centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. Central Bedfordshire Council. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
- Hall 1990, p. 97.
- Daily Mail (13 April 2011). "'She kissed a woman then set herself on fire': Last horrifying moments of passenger who committed suicide on a train". Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199.
- Clinker, C.R. (October 1978). Clinker's Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots in England, Scotland and Wales 1830–1977. Bristol: Avon-Anglia Publications & Services. ISBN 0-905466-19-5.
- Daily Mail Reporter (13 April 2011). "'She kissed a woman then set herself on fire': Last horrifying moments of passenger who committed suicide on a train". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Hall, Stanley (1990). The Railway Detectives. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0 7110 1929 0.
- Leleux, Robin (1984) . A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The East Midlands (Volume 9). Newton Abbot, Devon: David St. John Thomas. ISBN 978-0-946537-06-8.
- Oppitz, Leslie (2000). Lost Railways of the Chilterns (Lost Railways Series). Newbury, Berkshire: Countryside Books. ISBN 978-1-85306-643-6.
- Shannon, Paul (1995). British Railways Past and Present: Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and West Hertfordshire (No. 24). Wadenhoe, Peterborough: Past & Present Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85895-073-0.
- Simpson, Bill (1998). The Dunstable Branch. Witney, Oxon: Lamplight Publications. ISBN 978-1-899246-03-8.
- Woodward, Sue; Woodward, Geoff (May 2008). Branch Line to Dunstable from Leighton Buzzard to Hatfield. Midhurst, West Sussex: Middleton Press. ISBN 978-1-906008-27-7.
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