Three Bridges railway station

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Three Bridges National Rail
Chichester Train at Three Bridges.png
Southbound Southern Class 377 departing Platform 3 in November 2006
PlaceThree Bridges
Local authorityBorough of Crawley
Grid referenceTQ288369
Station codeTBD
Managed bySouthern
Number of platforms5
DfT categoryC1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2014/15Increase 3.230 million
2015/16Decrease 3.173 million
2016/17Decrease 3.072 million
– Interchange  0.737 million
2017/18Decrease 3.069 million
– Interchange Increase 0.932 million
2018/19Increase 3.224 million
– Interchange Decrease 0.699 million
Key datesOpened 12 July 1841 (12 July 1841)
Original companyLondon & Brighton Railway
Pre-groupingLondon, Brighton & South Coast Railway
Post-groupingSouthern Railway
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Three Bridges from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

Three Bridges railway station is located in and named after the village of Three Bridges, which is now a district of Crawley, West Sussex, England. It is at the point where the Arun Valley Line diverges from the Brighton Main Line and Thameslink, 29 miles 21 chains (47.1 km) down the line from London Bridge via Redhill.


The original Italianate style railway station on the East side of the line at Three Bridges was opened in July 1841 by the London and Brighton Railway at a point next to their proposed branch to Horsham. It was designed by the architect David Mocatta, and was one of a series of standardised modular buildings used by the railway.[1] This building was demolished 5 May 1985.[2] Mocatta's plans for the station indicate that it was originally going to be known as "Crawley"[3] but according to The London and Brighton railway guide, of 1841 and the 1846 timetable it was named "Three Bridges" from the time it was opened.[4]


The London and Brighton Railway merged with others to become the London Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1846, and the branch to Horsham was opened two years later. Three Bridges was enlarged in July 1855 with the construction of a branch line to East Grinstead and again enlarged in 1906/9 at the time of the quadrupling of the main line. The present ticket office was then built on the west side of the line and new platforms and station buildings for the new lines.


Three Bridges was a key site for the electrification scheme for the Brighton main line during 1932/33, housing the control room for the scheme, and was one of three locations where current was taken from the national network and transmitted to substations.[5] Electric multiple unit trains began to run between London and Three Bridges on 17 July 1932. The line was electrified throughout on 30 December.[6] At the same time the practice of using "slip coaches" for East Grinstead at Three Bridges from expresses bound for the south coast was abandoned by the Southern Railway.[7] The line from Three Bridges to Horsham was electrified in May 1938.[8] The single-track branch line to East Grinstead was never electrified. It remained steam operated, using tank locomotives of the M7 and H classes hauling push–pull trains. After the end of steam operation in 1964, it was then briefly operated by diesel-electric multiple units of British Rail Class 205 but closed on 2 January 1967.


There have been four recorded accidents at Three Bridges station, the first two of which were relatively minor and involved no injuries. On 12 April 1858 an engine collided with passenger carriages, and on 18 October 1863 an excursion train hit the buffer stops. Two members of station staff died on 13 December 1868 from an explosion of naphtha in a truck of a goods train.[9] On 28 January 1933 an electric train crashed into the back of a steam freight train waiting at the signal box. The driver of the electric train and the guard of the freight train were both seriously injured.[10]

Related rail facilities[edit]

Locomotive depot and goods yard[edit]

Three Bridges Locomotive Depot, 11 December 1948, before the roof was repaired

An engine shed was opened in July 1848 on a site to the west of the station. This was closed in 1909 to make way for the enlargement of the station and a new depot was established in the fork between the Brighton and Horsham lines in 1911, which remained open until June 1964.

The original small goods yard to the south of the station was greatly extended during the First World War and was used as a marshalling yard for munitions trains heading for the Continent. Trains from the Great Western Railway and the London and North Western Railway were brought here for onward transmission to Newhaven Harbour.[11]

In the early 2000s, Virgin CrossCountry built a depot at Three Bridges operated by English Welsh and Scottish Railway to service its Class 220 Voyagers.[12] It closed following CrossCountry withdrawing its Gatwick and Brighton services in December 2008 and was subsequently demolished and replaced with EMU stabling sidings.[13]

Three Bridges rail operating centre[edit]

In 2010 Network Rail selected Three Bridges as its preferred site for a signalling centre for trains operating in the southeast of England, being central to the London, Brighton, and future Thameslink services, and with no major negative planning issues.[14] A 1.7 ha (4.2 acres) site 0.5 mi (0.80 km) south of Three Bridges station was selected, located in the "fork" between the Arun Valley Line and Brighton Main Line (51°06′44″N 0°09′47″W / 51.1123°N 0.1631°W / 51.1123; -0.1631 (Three Bridges railway operating centre)); the centre was located east of a DB Schenker rail depot, and east of depot facilities for the Thameslink rolling stock programme trains, which was under planning development at the same time.[15][16] The operating centre build was designed as a 71.45 by 34.8 m (234.4 by 114.2 ft) three-storey building with 6,980 m2 (75,100 sq ft) of floorspace, providing railway operational and administrational and training facilities. Equipment was primarily on the ground floor, with the operation rooms on first and second floors.[17]

In December 2011, Network Rail began construction of a rail operating centre at Three Bridges, one of 14 countrywide intended to replace several hundred signalboxes; the Three Bridges centre was built to control rail operations in the Sussex area. The facility was constructed by C. Spencer Ltd, and was expected to employ around 600 people, with a 900-person net job benefit once complete.[18][19] The facility was officially opened in January 2014.[20]

Three Bridges rolling stock depot[edit]

In 2009 Network Rail submitted a planning application for a rolling stock depot including a three road shed for trains to be procured under the Thameslink rolling stock programme; rejection of the plans for a sister depot at Hornsey resulted in modified plans being submitted in 2011, with the Three Bridges depot expanded to a five road shed with additional stabling and facilities. As of August 2014, the depot is under construction.[needs update]

Current services[edit]

The station remains an important junction on the Brighton Main Line throughout Southern Railway and British Railways ownership. Train services are now provided by Southern and Thameslink train operating companies.


Besides a booking hall, the station has refreshment facilities and shops, as well as toilets and accessibility lifts to platforms.

Platform layout[edit]

  • Platform 1: - From Crawley to London via Redhill - Some fast services in the peaks
  • Platform 2: - To London via Redhill / Down to Chichester (off-peak) (Up Slow) Some Terminus from Victoria (Down Slow)
  • Platform 3: - To Horsham/Bognor/Crawley - Occasionally Brighton (Down Slow)
  • Platform 4: - To Bedford - Most Thameslink and Fast Victoria services (Up Fast)
  • Platform 5: - To Brighton and/or Eastbourne and/or Littlehampton (Down Fast)


Services at Three Bridges are operated by Southern and Thameslink using Class 377 and Class 700 EMUs.

The typical off-peak service in trains per hour is:[21][22]

On Sundays, the services to London Victoria and Cambridge reduce to hourly and the service to Peterborough runs hourly but only as far as London Bridge.

An hourly night service also runs on Sunday-Friday nights between Three Bridges and Bedford although this service does not call at London Bridge.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Bedford to Three Bridges
Night Service Only
Disused railways
Terminus   British Rail
Southern Region

Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line


  1. ^ Turner, John Howard (1977). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 1 Origins and Formation. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-0275-9. p.128.
  2. ^ Chi Trevor (5 May 1985). "Chi Trevor's Photostream". Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  3. ^ Cole, David (1958). "Mocatta's stations for the Brighton Railway". Journal of Transport History. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 5: 149–157. ISSN 0022-5266.
  4. ^ Times, Railway (1841). "The London and Brighton railway guide, containing a correct description of the railway, historical and topographical notices of the places contiguous to the various stations, 1841". Lse Selected Pamphlets. JSTOR 60240078..
  5. ^ Moody, G.T. (1968). Southern Electric 1909-1968. Ian Allan. p. 53.
  6. ^ Moody (1968), pp.52-4.
  7. ^ Kidner, R.W. (1984). Southern Suburban Steam. Oakwood Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-85361-298-8.
  8. ^ Moody (1968), pp.68.
  9. ^ Board of Trade Accidents: inspecting officers' reports for 1866-1871. pp.109-112.
  10. ^ "Report on the Accident at Three Bridges on 28th January 1933". The Railways Archive.
  11. ^ Bradley, D.L. (1974). The Locomotives of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. Part 3. Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. p.133.
  12. ^ 2001-2002 Bon Voyage(r) 1S76
  13. ^ 2008 The end is nigh 1S76
  14. ^ Network Rail & ARUP 2011, Planning Statement. 2.2, p.6; B1, pp.81-83.
  15. ^ Network Rail & ARUP 2011, Planning Statement. 2.3.1, p.8; 3.1.1, p.9; Fig.1, p.10.
  16. ^ Network Rail & ARUP 2011, (3BR-GX-205 04) Site Plan with TBOC.
  17. ^ Network Rail & ARUP 2011, Design and Access Statement. 4. pp.20-21.
  18. ^ "Bringing 900 jobs to Three Bridges". Network Rail. 12 December 2011.
  19. ^ Work Starts on Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre: 900 Jobs to Follow, Network Rail, 12 December 2011, archived from the original on 22 February 2014
  20. ^ Rail operating centre officially opened in Three Bridges, Network Rail, 7 January 2014, archived from the original on 22 February 2014
  21. ^ "Timetable 19: Horsham, Three Bridges and Gatwick Airport to London" (PDF). Southern, December 2019.
  22. ^ "Timetable 28: Southampton and Portsmouth to Horsham and London" (PDF). Southern, December 2019.


External links[edit]

Media related to Three Bridges railway station at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°07′01″N 0°09′40″W / 51.117°N 0.161°W / 51.117; -0.161