Thetford railway station

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Thetford National Rail
Thetford railway station.JPG
Place Thetford
Local authority Breckland
Grid reference TL867836
Station code TTF
Managed by Greater Anglia
Number of platforms 2
DfT category E
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2012/13 Increase 0.287 million
2013/14 Increase 0.290 million
2014/15 Increase 0.295 million
2015/16 Increase 0.300 million
2016/17 Increase 0.303 million
Key dates Opened 30 July 1845 (30 July 1845)
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Thetford from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Thetford railway station is on the Breckland line in the east of England, serving the town of Thetford, Norfolk. The line runs between Cambridge in the west and Norwich in the east.

Thetford is situated between Brandon and Harling Road, 93 miles 50 chains (150.7 km) from London Liverpool Street via Ely. The station is managed by Greater Anglia, which operates most of the services, typically one to two trains per hour in either direction. East Midlands Trains operates a regular service between Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street via Nottingham and Manchester Piccadilly.

It is the nearest station to the Center Parcs holiday village at Elveden Forest, approximately five miles to the west.


The Bill for the Norwich & Brandon Railway (N&BR) received Royal Assent on 10 May 1844. The line was to link with an Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) project of a line from Newport in Essex to Brandon in Norfolk. Once complete the line would enable trains to travel from Norwich to London. Work started on the line in 1844.

One month before the N&BR opened a Bill authorising the amalgamation of the Yarmouth & Norwich Railway with the N&BR came into effect and so Thetford station became a Norfolk Railway asset.

The line opened on 30 July 1845 including the Eastern Counties Railway Brandon to Newport line. However, the line only went as far as Trowse, in the suburbs of Norwich, as the contractors were having to build a swing bridge to cross the navigable River Wensum. Thetford station was, when opened, between Brandon (Ely direction) and Roudham (Norwich direction).

The ECR and its rival the Eastern Union Railway (EUR) were both sizing up the NR to acquire and expand their railway empire. The ECR trumped the EUR by taking over the NR, including Thetford Station on 8 May 1848.

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, Thetford became a GER station on 1 July 1862 when the GER took over the ECR and the EUR before the Bill received the Royal Assent.[1] Also in the 1860s the GER opened a line from Roudham towards Swaffham. Roudham was renamed Roudham Junction.

A decade later the a Bill received the Royal Assent promoting a line linking Bury St Edmunds (on the Ipswich to Cambridge line) and Thetford. The Act was passed on 5 July 1873 and work was started by the Thetford & Watton Railway (T&WR) in 1874. The T&WR opened the 1st part of the line on 15 November 1875. The line went south and terminated at Thetford Bridge, the first station after Thetford going towards Bury St. Edmund's. The opening made Thetford a joint GER and T&WR station. 4 months later the rest of the line opened to Bury St. Edmund's. 2 years later the GER took over the T&WR and joint working at Thetford ended.

The system settled down for the next 4 decades, apart from the disruption of First World War. The difficult economic circumstances that existed after World War 1 led the Government to pass the Railways Act 1921 which led to the creation of the Big Four. The GER amalgamated with several other companies to form the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). Thetford became a LNER station on 1 January 1923.

On nationalisation in 1948 Thetford came under the auspices of the Eastern Region of British Railways.

Five years after nationalisation BR decided to close the Thetford to Bury St Edmunds line. Thetford lost its junction status on 8 June 1953.

One decade later BR, as part of the Beeching rationalisation plan closed the Roudham Junction and Swaffham line including Roudham Junction station on 15 June 1964. With Roudham Junction gone Harling Road became the next station after Thetford going towards Norwich. The 1960s also saw steam withdrawn and replaced by diesel multiple units.

Upon sectorisation in the 1980s the station and its services came under the Regional Railways brand.

On privatisation most services and management of the station passing to Anglia Railways on 5 January 1997, with services towards the Midlands transferring by Central Trains on 2 March 1997.

On 1 April 2004 the station and its operations were transferred to National Express East Anglia (NXEA). NXEA trains were initially branded as One. Three years later, on 11 November 2007, the Central Trains franchise was broken up and the Liverpool-Norwich services were taken over by East Midlands Trains, the present day operator.

In February 2012, the station and its services were transferred to Abellio Greater Anglia.

Last year (2015) the Government nationalised Network Rail so only the Train Operating Companies remained private.

Thetford signal box in June 2010; it closed in August 2012

The original station building of knapped flint was constructed by the Norwich & Brandon Railway in 1845; the brickwork extension dates from 1889, and the year is engraved on its facade. The well-preserved station complex is a Grade II listed building.


As of May 2016, there are typically two trains per hour eastbound to Norwich and one train per hour westbound to Cambridge; these services are operated by Greater Anglia.[2]

There is also an hourly service (Mon-Sat, less frequent on Sundays) between Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street which calls at Thetford, operated by East Midlands Trains. Westbound services call at Ely, where connections are available for trains to Stansted Airport. This provides regular through links to Peterborough, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly.[3] Evening trains on this route terminate at Nottingham and there are no departures westbound after 19.30 (except on Sunday evenings, when one runs at 21:19).


  1. ^ CJ Allen - Great Eastern - page46
  2. ^ GB eNRT May 2016 Edition, Table 17 (Network Rail)
  3. ^ GB eNRT May 2016 Edition, Table 49 (Network Rail)

External links[edit]

Preceding station   National Rail National Rail   Following station
Abellio Greater Anglia
(Limited services)
East Midlands Trains
(Limited services)
(Limited services)
Historical railways
Line and station open
Great Eastern Railway
Line open, station closed
Disused railways
Terminus Great Eastern Railway
Line and station closed

Coordinates: 52°25′08″N 0°44′44″E / 52.4190°N 0.7455°E / 52.4190; 0.7455