Retford railway station

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Retford National Rail
The station building at Retford
Local authorityDistrict of Bassetlaw
Coordinates53°18′54″N 0°56′53″W / 53.315°N 0.948°W / 53.315; -0.948Coordinates: 53°18′54″N 0°56′53″W / 53.315°N 0.948°W / 53.315; -0.948
Grid referenceSK701803
Station codeRET
Managed byLondon North Eastern Railway
Owned byNetwork Rail
Number of platforms4
DfT categoryC2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2012/13Increase 0.418 million
2013/14Increase 0.431 million
2014/15Increase 0.456 million
– Interchange Steady 0.108 million
2015/16Increase 0.484 million
– Interchange Increase 0.113 million
2016/17Increase 0.507 million
– Interchange Increase 0.116 million
Key datesOpened 1849 (1849)
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Retford from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal
Up Leeds express in 1954

Retford railway station is on the East Coast Main Line in the United Kingdom, serving the town of Retford, Nottinghamshire. It is 138 miles 49 chains (223.1 km) down the line from London King's Cross and is situated between Newark North Gate and Doncaster on the main line.

It has four platforms, two of which serve the main line and the other two, located at a lower level and at right angles to the first pair, serve the Sheffield to Lincoln Line.

The station[edit]

The first railway into Retford was the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway which opened on 16 July 1849 on their line between Sheffield (Bridgehouses) and Gainsborough. The Great Northern Railway line from Doncaster arrived on 4 September 1849 crossing the S&LJR on the level. It used the latter's station until its own was completed (on the site of today's higher-level platforms) on 1 August 1852. On 1 July 1859, the S&LJR (now the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway) began using the GNR station via a short connecting curve, and closed its original station.

The higher-level platforms (numbered 1 and 2) respectively serve southbound and northbound East Coast Main Line trains operated by London North Eastern Railway which call at Retford. Platform 1 (on the eastern side of the layout) adjoins the main station building. Between the two platforms tracks there are two further lines, used by fast trains not booked to call here.

Prior to the remodelling of the station, the two lines crossed at a flat crossing with a curve connecting the northern and eastern tracks, allowing trains on the Sheffield-Gainsborough line to call at the station. There were two northbound platforms - platform 2 (now closed) was on the eastern side of an island platform and platform 3 on the opposite side (still in use, now renumbered 2). Platform 1 handled southbound and eastbound trains. In addition, there was a single southbound line which passed in between platforms 1 and 2, rather than the two lines in place today. To relieve congestion on platform 1, there was a timber-built extension on the south curve (platform 1A) to allow Lincoln-bound trains to clear platform 1 proper.[citation needed]

The new lower-level platforms (originally numbered 4 and 5, now re-numbered 3 and 4) were added when the flat crossing between the two lines was removed and replaced with a bridge in 1965[1] and the Sheffield-Gainsborough tracks lowered to pass beneath the main line. These works also necessitated the removal of the direct north-to-east curve, meaning that trains between Sheffield and Lincoln could no longer call at the original platforms without a reversal.

The former Buffet and First Class Dining room on platform 1 are currently used as clubrooms by The Bassetlaw (North Notts) Railway Society. The club has installed an interesting display of local railway images in the windows of the rooms.


The station is staffed throughout the week, with most amenities (booking office, toilets, coffee shop and vending machine) in the main building on platforms 1. The ticket office is manned Monday - Friday 05:35 - 18:00, Saturday 05:35 - 16:10 and Sunday 08:20 - 16:10. A self-service ticket machine is also provided for use when the booking office is closed and for collecting pre-paid tickets. Train running information is offered via automated announcements, CIS displays and timetable posters. There are also customer help points on both low-level platforms, along with waiting shelters. All platforms are fully accessible for disabled passengers via lifts and a subway, although platform 3 (for Sheffield) can only be reached via a barrow crossing and requires staff assistance.[2]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 13 February 1923, an express passenger train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with a goods train. Three people were killed.[3]

References in popular culture[edit]

Bill Bryson comments of Retford station, in his book Notes from a Small Island, that it is shown on railway maps in a typeface (and large filled circle graphic) marking it as equivalent to much more notable cities in northern England, and he therefore deemed it worth a visit.

Michael Palin of Monty Python fame recalls frequently visiting Retford Station as a youngster for train spotting,[citation needed] as it was in easy reach of his home city of Sheffield and provided access to legendary locomotives like the Flying Scotsman running on the East Coast Main Line.



An InterCity 125 at the station following electrification.

The station's High Level platforms are served by London North Eastern Railway on a basic two-hourly frequency each way Mon-Fri, northbound to York and southbound to London King's Cross. Additional peak period services run to/from Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle. A similar basic frequency also operates on Saturdays, but trains run through to Edinburgh or Leeds. Most services run by open access operator Hull Trains also call here.[4]

Low Level[edit]

Northern services on the Sheffield to Lincoln Line call hourly each way Mon-Sat at the low level station,[5] running eastbound to Lincoln Central and westbound to Sheffield and Adwick via Meadowhall. Northern's service to Doncaster is more frequent than the main line alternative, but takes considerably longer due to the indirect route. A small number of trains from Sheffield start/terminate here, including two that use the surviving connection via Whisker Hill Junction to reach platform 2 at High Level (a practice that was much more common in the 1970s when the Lincoln route had fewer through trains).

On Saturdays only, there are also three trains to Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes via Brigg. On Sundays, the frequency is two-hourly and only runs in the afternoon and evening; there are four services to and from Lincoln, with the rest starting and finishing here.

The new Northern franchise agreement came into effect in April 2016 and will see significant improvements on this route - the Lincoln to Sheffield service will become part of the Northern Connect network (and be extended to Leeds via Barnsley), whilst the service frequency to and from Sheffield will be doubled (2tph weekdays, hourly on Sundays with all trains running to/from Lincoln).[6]

There is also one Northern service to Hull every day, which starts at Lincoln Central. The Northern service to Hull is also a significantly longer journey than the main line alternative.


  1. ^ Building of Retford Dive-under in 1964-5 '; Retrieved 17 June 2009
  2. ^ Retford station facilities National Rail Enquiries
  3. ^ Hall, Stanley (1990). The Railway Detectives. London: Ian Allan. p. 83. ISBN 0 7110 1929 0.
  4. ^ Table 26 National Rail timetable, May 2017
  5. ^ Northern Rail Timetable 32 Sheffield to Lincoln, 13 December 2015 - 14 May 2016Northern Rail; Retrieved 31 March 2016
  6. ^ Northern Franchise Improvements - DfT
  • Dow, G., (1959) Great Central, Volume One: The Progenitors (1813-1863) , Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd.

External links[edit]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Newark North Gate   London North Eastern Railway
London-Doncaster/York route
Grantham   Hull Trains
  Historical railways  
Tuxford North
Line open, station closed
  Great Northern Railway
East Coast Main Line
  Barnby Moor and Sutton
Line open, station closed
Checker House
Line open, station closed
  Great Central Railway
Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway
Line open, station closed
  Great Central Railway
Sheffield and Lincolnshire Extension Railway
Line and station closed