Swindon railway station

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Swindon National Rail
Swindon railway station MMB 03 43168 43161.jpg
Location
PlaceSwindon
Local authorityBorough of Swindon
Coordinates51°33′56″N 1°47′07″W / 51.5656°N 1.7854°W / 51.5656; -1.7854Coordinates: 51°33′56″N 1°47′07″W / 51.5656°N 1.7854°W / 51.5656; -1.7854
Grid referenceSU149851
Operations
Station codeSWI
Managed byGreat Western Railway
Number of platforms4
DfT categoryC1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Increase 3.350 million
2014/15Increase 3.504 million
2015/16Increase 3.581 million
2016/17Increase 3.679 million
– Interchange  0.247 million
2017/18Decrease 3.625 million
– Interchange Increase 0.252 million
History
Original companyGreat Western Railway
Pre-groupingGWR
Post-groupingGWR
1842Opened as "Swindon Junction"
1961Renamed "Swindon"
National RailUK railway stations
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Swindon from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

Swindon railway station is on the Great Western Main Line in South West England, serving the town of Swindon, Wiltshire. It is 77 miles 23 chains (124.4 km) down the line from London Paddington and is situated between Didcot Parkway and Chippenham on the main line. It is managed by Great Western Railway, which also operates all the trains.

It is an important junction, where the former Great Western Railway line to Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa, the main line to Bristol Temple Meads, and the South Wales Main Line via Bristol Parkway diverge.

It is approximately 220 yards (200 m) from the central bus station and the town centre. It is served by GWR services from Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, Cheltenham Spa via Gloucester, Swansea and the rest of South Wales, and to Westbury.

History[edit]

The National Rail logo above the station can be seen from a distance and helps travellers locate it

The main line of the Great Western Railway (GWR) was built and opened in stages. Construction began in late 1835, and by the end of August 1840 the line was open between Paddington and Faringdon Road (later known as Challow), also between Bristol and Bath.[1] The section from Faringdon Road to a temporary terminus at Hay Lane (near Wootton Bassett} was opened on 17 December 1840; this passed to the north of the market town of Swindon (now known as Old Swindon); but the only intermediate station opened at that time was at Shrivenham.[2] Meanwhile, the Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway had in 1836 been authorised to link the GWR with Gloucester and Cheltenham, and for this line, a junction at Swindon had been decided upon.[3] The GWR line was planned by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to rise from both London and Bristol to a summit near Swindon, and to have easy gradients east of that summit, and steeper gradients to the west. Brunel, and his colleague Daniel Gooch, decided in October 1840 that one locomotive would not be able to manage the whole distance without taking on fuel; and it would be necessary to change locomotives part-way. Reading was chosen as one place to change engines, being both a major station and, at just under 36 miles, approximately one-third of the 118-mile distance from Paddington to Bristol. They also felt that it would be convenient to change locomotives at Swindon; not only was this almost two-thirds of the way (just over 77 miles) and the site of the junction for the Cheltenham line, it was also the summit of the line; and a train from London could have its fast locomotive replaced by a slower but more powerful locomotive for the journey on to Bristol. Accordingly, it was necessary to provide locomotive maintenance facilities at Swindon. The proximity of the North Wilts Canal was also a factor, since it would enable coke for the locomotives and coal for the workshops to be supplied from the Somerset Coalfield at a reasonable price.[4] A station was then planned around the junction, and opened at the same time as the first portion of the Cheltenham line (from Swindon to Kemble and Cirencester); the GWR main line was extended from Hay Lane to Chippenham on the same day, 31 May 1841.[5] The GWR had engaged the Westminster firm of Messrs. J. & C. Rigby to build several stations, including all those between Steventon and Corsham; this firm was also given the construction contracts for all of the buildings at Swindon, including the station and its refreshment rooms, the locomotive repair shops, 300 houses and other buildings needed for the workers. The GWR was short of money, and in late 1841 the contractors, instead of asking for payment, agreed to give Swindon station and its refreshment rooms to the GWR free of charge, and to lease back the refreshment rooms for 99 years at one (old) penny per year. Part of the deal was that

All trains carrying passengers, not being Goods trains or trains to be sent express or for special purposes, and except trains not under the control of the Great Western Railway Company, which shall pass the Swindon Station either up or down, shall, save in case of emergency or unusual delay arising from accidents, stop there for refreshment of passengers for a reasonable period of about ten minutes.

In this "reasonable period", not only could the passengers be refreshed but the locomotive would also be changed. Messrs. Rigby would then be able to use the profits from the refreshment rooms to recover their financial outlay.[6] Not long after the contract was finalised, Rigby then sublet the rights to S. Y. Griffiths of Cheltenham for seven years, for which Griffiths paid Rigby £6,000 up front and then £1,100 per year. Before this expired, Rigby sold the lease to J. R. Phillips for £20,000 in August 1848.[7]

With the railway passing through the town in early 1841, the Goddard Arms public house in Old Swindon was used as a railway booking office in lieu of a station. Tickets purchased included the fare for a horse-drawn carriage to the line at the bottom of the hill.[8]

Swindon railway station opened in 1842 with construction of the GWR's engineering works continuing. Until 1895, every train stopped here for at least 10 minutes to change locomotives. Swindon station hosted the first recorded railway refreshment rooms, divided according to class. Swindonians, for a time, were eminently proud that even the current King and Queen of the time had partaken of refreshments there.[8] The station in 1842 was built of three storeys, with the refreshment rooms on the ground floor, the upper floors comprising the station hotel and lounge. Until 1961, when Swindon Town station closed, the station was known as Swindon Junction.

The original building was demolished in 1972, with today's modern station and office block erected on the site.[8]

The Travel Centre (booking office) at Swindon was APTIS-equipped by the end of October 1986, making it one of the very first stations with the ticketing system which was eventually found across the UK at all staffed British Rail stations by the end of the 1980s.[citation needed]

On 2 June 2003 Platform 4 opened.[9] Prior to this all westbound trains had used Platform 3 and eastbound services Platform 1. Services terminating or starting here on the lines to Westbury via Chippenham and Gloucester use platform 2, a west-facing inset bay.

Awards[edit]

  • 2004 – Station Excellence of the Year Award won. The year-old Platform 4 had saved hundreds of minutes of passenger time, as it removed a bottleneck at the station.
  • 2005 – Staff at the station received an internal award, First for Service, for their outstanding customer treatment.

Services[edit]

A 1906 Railway Clearing House map of railways in the vicinity of Swindon


Railway lines in Swindon
GWML to London
Highworth branch line
Stratton
Stratton Park Halt
Stratton St Margaret Works
M&SWJR to Cheltenham
M&SWJR to Southampton
Hayes Knoll
Chiseldon Camp Halt
Blunsdon
Chiseldon
Moredon Halt
Swindon Town
Moredon Power Station
Swindon
Rushey Platt
Purton
Golden Valley line
Wootton Bassett
SWML to Swansea
GWML to Bristol
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Cheltenham Spa – Swindon
  Kemble
Didcot Parkway   Great Western Railway
London – Cardiff/Swansea
  Bristol Parkway
  Great Western Railway
London – Bristol
  Chippenham
  Great Western Railway
London – Cheltenham Spa
  Kemble
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Swindon-Westbury/Southampton (Limited service)
  Chippenham
  Historical railways  
Purton
Line open, station closed
  Great Western Railway
Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway
  Terminus
Stratton Park Halt
Line open, station closed
  Great Western Railway
Main Line
  Wootton Bassett
Line open, station closed
Disused railways
Stratton
Line and station closed
  Great Western Railway
Highworth Branch Line
  Terminus

Panel box[edit]

The railway in the vicinity of Swindon station and for a distance of about 20–30 miles in each direction towards Didcot, Bristol, South Wales and Gloucester was controlled from a signal box situated behind platform number 4. The panel box is a Western Region Integra design built by Henry Williams (Darlington) and opened in March 1968. The box was decommissioned in February 2016[10] and the panel was moved for preservation to Didcot Railway Centre.[11]

Plans[edit]

It was announced in December 2005 that stations in the Thames Valley region were to be upgraded.[12]

In August 2014, Network Rail completed the redoubling of the track between Swindon and Kemble in order to improve rail services between London and Cheltenham/Gloucester, and to allow for maintenance work in the Severn Tunnel when Swansea services are diverted via Gloucester. When originally laid in 1842 the line was double-track throughout, however some 12 14 miles (19.7 km) of the second track were removed in 1968/69.[13] As of July 2008, the Office of Rail Regulation was receiving submissions to restore this project (previously omitted) to Network Rail's plans for 2009–2014.[14] The project cost was estimated at £50.2 million and received backing from the South West Development Agency and others[15] but stalled when it was left out of the new Coalition Government's Spending Review in October 2010.[16] Work commenced in January 2013[17] and was completed in August 2014.[18]

On 1 March 2011, Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond announced that plans for electrifying the Great Western main line west from Didcot through Swindon to Bristol and Cardiff had resumed at a planned cost of £704 million.[19] The electrification project had first been announced by the previous Government's Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis, on 23 July 2009.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MacDermot, E.T. (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, vol. I: 1833-1863. Paddington: Great Western Railway. pp. 38, 103, 114.
  2. ^ MacDermot 1927, p. 119
  3. ^ MacDermot 1927, p. 164
  4. ^ MacDermot 1927, pp. 119–121, 124
  5. ^ MacDermot 1927, pp. 125, 170
  6. ^ MacDermot 1927, pp. 151–3, 643
  7. ^ MacDermot 1927, p. 153
  8. ^ a b c Mark Child (2002). Swindon : An Illustrated History. United Kingdom: Breedon Books Publishing. ISBN 1-85983-322-5.
  9. ^ "It's Official: Swindon Platform 4 is Now Open". DfT. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  10. ^ "Swindon Signal Panel - The Signal Box Forum"Signalbox.org; Retrieved 29 September 2016
  11. ^ http://www.swindonpanel.org.uk
  12. ^ Plans for stations improvements bbc.co.uk 13 December 2005
  13. ^ Allen, G. Freeman (1979). The Western since 1948. Ian Allan. pp. 27–29, 153, 157–8. ISBN 0-7110-0883-3.
  14. ^ A recent Parliamentary debate on the Swindon-Kemble line
  15. ^ 'This is Gloucestershire' reporting on doubling the Swindon – Kemble line[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ 'This is Gloucestershire' Swindon – Kemble redoubling project[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ m Swindon to Kemble rail upgrade begins BBC News 11 January 2013
  18. ^ Swindon to Kemble rail line redoubling work complete BBC News 25 August 2014
  19. ^ Cabinet Office
  20. ^ Adonis, Andrew (23 July 2009). "How to get Britains railways back on track". The Times. London.

External links[edit]

Media related to Swindon railway station at Wikimedia Commons