Norwich railway station

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Norwich National Rail
Norwich Thorpe (6371284241).jpg
Norwich railway station in 2008
Place Norwich
Local authority City of Norwich
Coordinates 52°37′37″N 1°18′23″E / 52.6269°N 1.3065°E / 52.6269; 1.3065Coordinates: 52°37′37″N 1°18′23″E / 52.6269°N 1.3065°E / 52.6269; 1.3065
Grid reference TG239083
Station code NRW
Managed by Abellio 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*
2010/11 Increase 3.749 million
2011/12 Increase 3.885 million
2012/13 Increase 4.126 million
2013/14 Increase 4.140 million
2014/15 Decrease 4.072 million
Original company Great Eastern Railway
Post-grouping London & North Eastern Railway
1 May 1844 Opened as Norwich
12 December 1849 Renamed Norwich Thorpe
3 May 1886 Re-sited
5 May 1969 Renamed Norwich
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Norwich from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
Norwich Thorpe in 1851, before its rebuilding in 1886.
LNER Thompson B1 4-6-0 in 1958

Norwich railway station (formerly Norwich Thorpe) is the eastern terminus of the Great Eastern Main Line in the East of England, serving the city of Norwich, Norfolk. It is 114 miles 77 chains (185.0 km) down the main line from the western terminus, London Liverpool Street.

It is also the terminus of several secondary lines: the Breckland Line to Cambridge, the Bittern Line to Cromer and Sheringham, and the Wherry Lines to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. East Midlands Trains also operates a service to Liverpool Lime Street.

The station is currently managed by Abellio Greater Anglia, which also operates the majority of the trains that serve the station.


At one time there were three railway stations in Norwich: Norwich Thorpe, which is the current station still known locally as "Thorpe station"; Norwich Victoria, which was once the terminus for certain passenger services from London until 1916 as well as being a goods station until its demolition in the 1970s; and Norwich City, which was the terminus of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway line from Melton Constable, which closed in 1959.

Early history[edit]

The original station was opened by the Yarmouth & Norwich Railway (Y&NR) which was the earliest railway in Norfolk. Its Act of Parliament of 18 June 1842 authorised the issue of £200,000 worth of shares to build a line between the two towns, via Reedham and the Yare valley. The chairman was George Stephenson and the chief engineer was his son, Robert Stephenson.[1] Construction started in April 1843 and the 20.5 miles were completed in a year, with an inspection and inaugural run on 12 April 1844, a ceremonial opening on 30 April 1844, followed the next day by the beginning of regular passenger services.[2]

17 days after the Y&NR started running train services (18 May 1844) Parliament gave the Royal Assent to the Norwich & Brandon Railway (N&BR). This was part of a plan to link the Norwich and Yarmouth with London by linking up with the Eastern Counties Railway line being built from Newport, in Essex, to Brandon, Norfolk. Work started quickly during 1844 and went on into 1845. On 30 June 1845 a Bill authorising the amalgamation of the Y&NR with the N&BR came into effect and Norwich station became a Norfolk Railway asset.[3]

The N&BR line arrived at the station on 15 December 1845 and this offered a route to Shoreditch in London via Cambridge and Bishop's Stortford. The Eastern Union Railway (EUR) was building a line towards Norwich and this led to great rivalry between the EUR and the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR). The ECR trumped the EUR by taking over the Norfolk Railway, including Norwich Station on 8 May 1848. The following year the Eastern Union Railway started services to Norwich Victoria. The opening of Norwich Victoria on 12 December 1849 led to the ECR naming its station Norwich Thorpe. On 27 Aug 1851 Eastern Union Railways services from Ipswich started serving the better placed station of Thorpe.

By the 1860s the railways in East Anglia were in financial trouble, and most were leased to the Eastern Counties Railway, which wished to amalgamate formally but could not obtain government agreement for this until an Act of Parliament on 7 August 1862, when the Great Eastern Railway (GER) was formed by the amalgamation. Actually, Norwich Thorpe and Norwich Victoria became GER stations on 1 July 1862 when the GER took over the ECR and the EUR before the Bill received the Royal Assent.[4][5]

Great Eastern Railway (1862-1922)[edit]

A decade after the GER was formed the latter promoted a new line from Norwich to Cromer. The line was opened on 20 October 1874 and a new station was built and constructed at the junction where the Cromer line left the Yarmouth & Norwich line. The new station, Whitlingham, now stood between Norwich Thorpe and Brundall on the Yarmouth line.

With traffic growing it was apparent a new station was required; this was built to the north of the original station and opened on 3 May 1886 and is the structure surviving today. The old terminus then became part of expanded goods facilities.

The new station was built by Messrs Youngs and Son, of Norwich, from designs by Messrs J Wilson and W. N. Ashbee, the company‘s engineer and architect respectively,[6] at the cost of £60,000. It had a circulating area with a high ceiling and the roof was supported by ironwork supplied by contractor Barnard Bishop and Barnard. The roof extended partly down the platforms which were then covered by canopies for part of their length. There were initially five platforms and engine release roads between platforms 2 and 3 and 4 and 5. These allowed the locomotive to be detached from the train without the need for a shunting locomotive (known as a station pilot) having to shunt the carriages out of the station. The attractive station building was built around a central clock tower (the clock was supplied by Dixons and Co of London Street Norwich) with two storey matching wings either side. A portico was built onto the clock-tower section.[7]

The GER and Norwich Thorpe changed little for the next 30 years until 1916. On 22 May 1916, as a wartime economy measure the GER closed Trowse Station. This meant that the 1st station South of Thorpe on the Ipswich line was Swainsthorpe, while he next station west of Thorpe on the Ely line was Hethersett. The War ended on 11 November 1918 and the following year, on 1 April 1919, the GER reopened Trowse Station. The 1918-1922 Government passed the Railways act 1921 which created the "Big Four" railway companies.

London and North Eastern Railway (1923-1947)[edit]

On 1 January 1923 the GER amalgamated with several other railways to form the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) as a result of the Railways Act 1921 which saw many of the 120 railway companies grouped into four main companies in an effort to stem their losses.[8] Norwich Thorpe had become an LNER asset.

16 years after the LNER came into being, on 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Two days later Prime Minister (PM) Chamberlain issued an ultimatum to Germany to withdraw from Poland or Britain will declare War. On 3 September 1939 the PM broadcast to the nation that the United Kingdom and Germany were at war. Two days later, on 5 September 1939 as a wartime economy measure, the LNER closed Trowse Station. Once again, as in 1916 when Trowse closed before, Swainsthorpe became the next station on the line to Ipswich from Thorpe, while Hethersett became the next station west of Thorpe on the line to Ely.

During World War II the station was bombed in June 1940 and April 1942.[9]

5 years after Thorpe Station was bombed for the 2nd time and 2 years after World War II ended the 1945-1950 Government, in 1947, passed the Transport Act which amalgamated the "Big Four" into a nationalised British Railways (BR).

British Railways (1948-1994)[edit]

On 1 January 1948 the nationalisation of Britain's railways saw the operation of Norwich Thorpe station pass to British Railways Eastern Region.

Platform 6 was added in 1954. Also in 1954, on 5 July 1954, BR closed Swainsthorpe station on the line from Thorpe to Ipswich. The next station after Thorpe was now Flordon.

In 1955 a modern booking hall was built.[10]

On 19 September 1955 BR decided that Whitlingham Station was no longer economic and so it was closed. This meant that there were now 2 stations east of Thorpe Station. Salhouse on the Cromer Line and Brundall Gardens on the Yarmouth line.

During the late 1950s steam was phased out from the East Anglian network as diesels took over.

As the Beeching Plan was implemented from the mid-1960s many of Norfolk's stations closed and 1966 was a bad year for closures. On 31 January 1966 BR closed Hethersett station on the Ely line so, going west from Thorpe the 1st station is Wymondham. On 7 November 1966 every remaining station between Thorpe and Diss was closed leaving Diss as the next station going South from Thorpe.

With the Beeching rationalisation closing Norwich City BR decided on 5 May 1969 to revert to the Yarmouth & Norwich Railway station name, Norwich.

When the station closed briefly for electrification works by the Eastern Region in 1986, Trowse, a disused suburban station, was put back into service as the temporary terminus of the line. It closed again when Norwich re-opened. The signalling was also modernised at this time and the track layout simplified.

The privatisation era (1994-present)[edit]

Seven years after electrification of the line from London the 1992-1997 Government passed the Railways Act 1993 which privatised the ownership and management of the track on 1 April 1994. The new track management company was named Railtrack plc.

Three years after Railtrack took over the track, in January 1997, train services serving Norwich were privatised with most services passing to Anglia Railways and services towards the West Midlands were taken over by Central Trains in March 1997.

Five years after the Anglia Rail and Central Trains train took over train services (2002) Railtrack got into financial difficulties following serious train accidents where poor track maintenance was to blame, Hatfield was the most notorious. So, the 2001-2005 Government restructured Railtrack and formed a new company called Network Rail.

Two years after Railtrack disappeared, (2004) Anglia trains handed over their franchise to National Express East Anglia (NE-EA). NE-EA trains were branded as One. Three years later on 11 November 2007 the Central Trains franchise was broken up and West Midlands services to Norwich were taken over by East Midland Trains who still run that franchise today (February 2016).

The following year (2008) after NE-EA took over train services the "One" brand was dropped and the National Express name predominated. Ticket barriers were installed in January 2009. During the same year, deep into the financial recession, NX walked away from the East Coast franchise and so the 2005-2010 Government announced that the NX-EA franchise would not be extended for three years when the agreement expired in 2011.

The 2010-2015 Coalition Government did give short extensions to NX-EA until February 2012. By then the Government granted the franchise to Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA). AGA took over on 5 February 2012 and the franchise was extended to October this year.

In 2015 the Government nationalised Network Rail so only the Train Operating Companies remained private.


  • Platform 1: Abellio Greater Anglia Intercity services to London Liverpool Street and occasionally for services to Cambridge and East Midlands Trains services to Liverpool Lime Street via Nottingham.
  • Platform 2: Abellio Greater Anglia Intercity services to London Liverpool Street.
  • Platform 3: Abellio Greater Anglia Intercity services to London Liverpool Street and services to Cambridge and East Midlands Trains services to Liverpool Lime Street via Nottingham.
  • Platform 4: Abellio Greater Anglia rural services to Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Sheringham. It is also occasionally used at peak times for Intercity services to London Liverpool Street.
  • Platform 5: Abellio Greater Anglia rural services to Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Sheringham.
  • Platform 6: Abellio Greater Anglia rural services to Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Sheringham.


The following services currently call at Norwich during the off-peak:

Operator Line Route Rolling stock Typical frequency
East Midlands Trains Norwich - Thetford - Ely - Peterborough - Grantham - Nottingham - Alfreton - Chesterfield - Sheffield - Stockport - Manchester Piccadilly - Manchester Oxford Road - Warrington Central - Widnes - Liverpool South Parkway - Liverpool Lime Street Class 158 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia GEML Norwich - Diss - Ipswich - Manningtree - Colchester - London Liverpool Street Class 90 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia GEML Norwich - Diss - Ipswich - Stowmarket - Manningtree - Colchester - Chelmsford - Stratford (London) - London Liverpool Street Class 90 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia Breckland Norwich - Wymondham - Attleborough - Thetford - Brandon - Ely - Cambridge Class 170 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia Bittern Norwich - Salhouse - Hoveton & Wroxham - Worstead - North Walsham - Gunton - Roughton Road - Cromer - West Runton - Sheringham Class 153, Class 156, Class 170 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia Wherry Norwich - Brundall Gardens - Brundall - Lingwood - Acle - Great Yarmouth Class 153, Class 156, Class 170, Class 37 + Mark 3 Coaching Stock 1x per hour
Abellio Greater Anglia Wherry Norwich - Brundall Gardens - Brundall - Cantley - Reedham - Berney Arms - Great Yarmouth Class 153, Class 156, Class 170 2x per day
Abellio Greater Anglia Wherry Norwich - Brundall - Cantley - Reedham - Haddiscoe - Somerleyton - Oulton Broad North - Lowestoft Class 153, Class 156, Class 170 1x per hour

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 10 September 1874, the Thorpe rail accident, East Anglia's worst train crash, occurred at Thorpe St Andrew between Norwich Thorpe and Brundall, killing 25 people and injuring 75.
  • On 21 January 1881, two passenger trains collided at Norwich Thorpe junction just beyond Carrow Road Bridge. Both trains had their locomotive and leading carriage derailed. There were, however, no casualties.[11]
  • On 21 July 2013, in the early hours, a passenger train ran into another which was stabled in Norwich's platform 6, injuring eight people. An investigation blamed driver fatigue.[12]

Engine sheds[edit]

Norwich engine shed was located to the south and west of the station. This depot closed in 1982 and was replaced by a new facility at Crown Point which in 2015 is responsible for the maintenance of the main line electric fleet and local diesel multiple units.


Before carriages were lit by electric lighting they were lit by gas. Norwich had an oil gas works and carriages north of a line from Harwich to Cambridge were supplied with oil gas.[13] The gas was distributed to other stations in a dedicated fleet of ten tank wagons. Use of the facility declined in the 1930s although up until the 1950s catering vehicles were still supplied.[14]

Children's author Arthur Ransome set the opening paragraph of Coot Club (1934) at Norwich Thorpe station.[10] It also appears in the 1971 film The Go-Between.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Allen, Cecil J. (1975). The Great Eastern Railway (6th ed.). Shepperton: Ian Allan. 
  2. ^ Hawkins, Chris (1990). Great Eastern in Town and Country. Pinner UK: Irwell Press. p. 1. ISBN 1 871608 16 3. 
  3. ^ C.J. Allen[full citation needed]
  4. ^ Vaughan, Adrian (1997). Railwaymen, Politics and Money. London: John Murray. pp. 134, 135. ISBN 0 7195 5150 1. 
  5. ^ C.J. Allen - Great Eastern - page 46
  6. ^ Kay, Peter (2006). Essex Railway Heritage. Wivenhoe UK: Peter Kay. p. 29. ISBN 978 1 899890 40 8. 
  7. ^ Hawkins, Chris (1990). Great Eastern in Town and Country. Pinner UK: Irwell Press. pp. 11–14. ISBN 1 871608 16 3. 
  8. ^ Railways Act 1921, HMSO, 19 August 1921 
  9. ^ Hawkins, Chris (1990). Great Eastern in Town and Country. Pinner UK: Irwell Press. p. 18. ISBN 1 871608 16 3. 
  10. ^ a b "Norwich Railway Station". Norwich Heart. Norwich Heritage and Economic Regeneration trsut. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Voisey, Fred (July 1983). "Accidents on the GER part3:Collision at Norwich 1881". Great Eastern Journal (35): 21. 
  12. ^ "Greater Anglia and East Midlands trains in Norwich station crash". BBC News Online. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Pember, Geoff (April 1983). "Lineside features 7:Large locomotive depots". Great Eastern Journal 35: 9. 
  14. ^ Kenworthy, Graham (October 1998). "Norwich Gas Works". Great Eastern Journal 96: 52. 
  15. ^ Ward, Ken. "East Anglia in book and film". Norwich the old city. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "£2m Norwich station rebuild almost complete". RAIL. No. 346 (EMAP Apex Publications). 16–29 December 1998. p. 11. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links[edit]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Abellio Greater Anglia Terminus
Abellio Greater Anglia Terminus
Abellio Greater Anglia Terminus
Abellio Greater Anglia Terminus
East Midlands Trains
Historical railways
Anglia Railways Terminus
Great Eastern Railway Terminus
Great Eastern Railway Terminus