Sunday, 30 July 2017

Bletchley (BLY)

Bletchley is a station on the West Coast Main Line to the South of the centre of Milton Keynes. The station was built as part of the original stretch of the London & Birmingham Railway, which eventually became the WCML. The station opened in 1846.

Information
Type: National Rail
(West Coast Main Line &
Marston Vale Line)
Station code: BLY
Opened: 1846
Platforms: 6
Bletchley became an important intercity station especially with the formation of the new city of Milton Keynes - for a time Bletchley was the main station. Its importance lessened with the opening of Milton Keynes Central station three miles to the North in 1982 [1]. Although Bletchley is served by London Midland trains along the WCML no Virgin Trains services stop.

Bletchley is at the junction of the WCML and one of the terminuses Marston Vale Line to Bedford, it is also next to Bletchley depot. It is currently served by London Midland (WCML and Marston Vale Line) and Southern services (on the West London route).
LM 350 266 arrives with a London Euston bound service

Virgin Trains Pendolino screams through

LM 150 109 operating services to Bedford along the Marston Vale Line
Look down the line

View of the station from the end of Platform 6


[1] John Glover, BR Diary 1978-1985 (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 74

Friday, 28 July 2017

Berkhamsted (BKM)

The first Berkhamsted station was built in 1838 by the London & Birmingham Railway. The line (which nowadays is part of the West Coast Main Line) was originally planned to cut through the site of Berkhamsted Castle however the plans were changed after the castle became the first building to obtain a protection order from parliament. The WCML now runs along an embankment next to the castle's barbican.

Information
Type: National Rail
(West Coast Main Line)
Station code: BKM
Opened: 1838
Platforms: 4
The original station was replaced by a larger station on the current site in 1875, the new site was just 100m from the old one. Most of the original station buildings are still in place and in use. One major change from Victorian days being the WCML electrification in the 1960s.

Berkhamsted is located in between Tring and Hemel Hempstead on the WCML and has regular trains through to London Euston and the North operated by London Midland and services on the West London Line operated by Southern.


All four lines of the WCML have platforms though the platforms on the slow lines are used mostly. At one time it was proposed to extend Crossrail to Berkhamsted and through to Tring but in the end the government decided not to proceed.
LM 350 112 on a Milton Keynes bound service

Waiting room

Main entrance

Alternative entrance

LM 350 234 on a North bound service

Main platform buildings

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

West Kirby (WKI)

West Kirby is the terminus of the West Kirby branch of the Wirral Line of Merseyrail.

Information
Type: National Rail
(Merseyrail Wirral Line)
Station code: WKI
Opened: 1878
Platforms: 2
The station was opened by the Hoylake and Birkenhead Railway & Tramway (later the Wirral Railway) in 1878 at the end of an extension of their line from Hoylake. A further line from Hooton was built to West Kirby in 1895. The station was moved at this time to the West to its present location, parts of the station including the clock tower from this build still survive [1]. The station and line was a success and the line was doubled in the late 1890s [2].

The line to West Kirby from Birkenhead was electrified by the LMS using 650v DC third rail in 1938. Art Deco concrete canopies were built over the platform which remain to the present day. The line to Hooton was closed in 1956, West Kirby's goods yard closed in 1965 though a siding remains for stock storage [3].

All services are operated by Merseyrail with trains to Liverpool every 15 minutes at peak times.
Merseyrail 507 016 arrives at West Kirby 
Station concourse 

View down the platform, the original station stands where the fire station is now on the right

Clock tower 
Platform sign

[1] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 74
[2] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Birkenhead to West Kirby (Middleton Press, 2014) p. XIV
[3] Ibid. p. 64

Friday, 21 July 2017

Ryde Esplanade (RYD)

Ryde Esplanade is located on the sea front at Ryde and is one of the most busiest stations on the Isle of Wight's Island Line.

Information
Type: National Rail (Island Line)
Station code: RYD
Opened: 1880
Platforms: 1
The first station on the site was to serve a horse drawn tram that ran along Ryde Pier but the railway station, originally called Pier Gate, was opened in 1880 when the railway line was built. The platforms - originally two were in use - are built partially over the shore (see photo below).

The station was closed at the end of 1966 in order to carry out modifications ready for electrification, the platforms had to be lowered as the ex-tube stock bought in for the Island Line had lower floors [1]. The station re-opened in 1967 along with the rest of the line. A new booking office and parcels office was built in 1973 [2], but shelters on the down platform were demolished later in the 1970s though the platform fell into disuse after cessation of shuttles from Ryde Pier Head. Now only the up platform is in use.

A bus station is located next to the railway station, and slightly more unusually a hovercraft station is located on the other side of the tracks via a footbridge!
483 007 departs to head across the sea to Ryde Pierhead

Ryde Esplanade is built partially over the shore line

483 004 emerges from Ryde tunnels on approach to Ryde Esplanade 
483 004 enters the station, the bus station can be seen next to the railway station
Behind 483 007 can be seen the now-disused other platform

[1] RJ Maycock & R Silsbury, The Isle of Wight Railways from 1923 Onwards (Oakwood Press, 2006) p. 225
[2] Ibid p. 235

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Milton Keynes Central (MKC)

Milton Keynes Central is the main station of Milton Keynes located on the West Coast Main Line.

Information
Type: National Rail
(West Coast Main Line)
Station code: MKC
Opened: 1982
Platforms: 7
When Milton Keynes became a "new town" in 1967, the existing but rather outlying Bletchley was the town's main station until the building of Milton Keynes Central in 1982 after pressure from the city development corporation (and after they provided two-thirds of the money needed!) [1] The station was an immediate success with passengers and now has nearly 7 million passengers a year.

Milton Keynes Central has 7 platforms, making it the largest station in Milton Keynes as well as the busiest. It has platforms serving the WCML's fast and slow lines though not all services stop at the station. It is served by London Midland, Virgin Trains and Southern.
LM 350 123 on a terminating service from London Euston

General view of the platforms

A freight comes through

A bridge crosses the platforms
Virgin Trains 221 118 on a Holyhead service
LM 319 457 pauses on an ECS

[1] John Glover, BR Diary 1978-1985 (Ian Allan, 1985) p. 74

Friday, 14 July 2017

Heyford (HYD)

Heyford serves the village of Lower Heyford in Oxfordshire and is a station on the Cherwell Valley Line between Banbury and Oxford.

Information
Type: National Rail
(Cherwell Valley Line)
Station code: HYD
Opened: 1850
Platforms: 2
The station was opened in 1850 by the Oxford & Rugby Railway and later became part of the Great Western Railway empire. Nowadays it is managed by GWR too (well its modern day namesake anyway). Most trains that stop at the station are GWR services that run between Banbury and Oxford though some also go through to London Paddington. Chiltern Railways also stop at the station once a day.

The station is a typical minor unmanned station and has various bus shelters, a footbridge and a car park. The station is next to Heyford Wharf on the Oxford Canal and one can step straight from the platform onto the towpath.
GWR 165 118 departs on an Oxford service

Heyford canal wharf adjacent to the station

Platform view from the footbridge

Platform shelter

GWR 165 118 arrives with a Banbury service

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Lichfield Trent Valley (LTV)

Lichfield Trent Valley is a split-level station with the Northern terminus of the Cross-City Line being on the high-level and the West Coast Main Line below. The station was first opened by the Trent Valley Railway in 1847 as Lichfield.

Information
Type: National Rail
(West Coast Main Line &
Cross-City Line)
Station code: LTV
Opened: 1847
Platforms: 3
A couple of years later the South Staffordshire Railway built a nearby station called Lichfield Trent Valley Junction.

In 1871 the London & North Western Railway which had absorbed both companies closed both of these stations and amalgamated all the services at a new Lichfield Trent Valley station on the current site. Lichfield also has the more central Lichfield City which is the next stop along the Cross-City Line.



Once the high-level platforms were through platforms on a route to Burton-on-Trent but the platforms were closed in 1965 when services between Lichfield City and Burton-on-Trent ceased (the lines themselves remained open for freight and diversions) before being re-opened in 1988 as the terminus of Cross-City Line was extended from Lichfield City [1]. The low-level platforms now serve the Rugby-Stafford section of the WCML. The station was upgraded in the early 2010s with a new station building and a larger car park.
LM 323 220 stands at Lichfield Trent Valley High Level

Cross-City Line trains go no further North

Low-Level platforms

116 miles to London!

The High-Level platform crosses over the WCML platforms

LM 350 120 pauses on a North bound service

[1] Vic Mitchell, North of Birmingham (Middleton Press, 2014) p. 117

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Covent Garden (ZCV)

Covent Garden is in central London in between Leicester Square (just 0.16 miles away) and Holborn in the middle of the always busy West End.
Information
Type: Transport for London
(Piccadilly Line)
Station code: ZCV
Opened: 1906
Platforms: 2

The station was opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway in 1907 (a few months after the rest of the line opened) [1] with a standard ground level Leslie Green designed station building.

Unlike most stations in the central section of the London Underground Covent Garden does not have escalators. The platforms are reached via lifts or stairs (for the fit/foolhardy - there are 193 steps![2]) Because of this the station is often overcrowded and on Saturday afternoons becomes exit only.

Interestingly the 0.16 mile journey from Leicester Square to Covent Garden with a Zone 1 fare (at time of writing £4.90) works out at over £30 per mile, one of the most expensive railway journeys in the country!
A Piccadilly Line 73ts train waits to depart

Surface building

Platform view

The station name is displayed on the tile wall of the platform

[1] Desmond F. Croome, The Piccadilly Line (Capital Transport, 1998) p. 11
[2] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 113

Friday, 7 July 2017

Lapworth (LPW)

Information
Type: National Rail
(Chiltern Main Line)
Station code: LPW
Opened: 1854
Platforms: 2
Lapworth is a small station on the Chiltern main line between Dorridge and Hatton. The station was opened as Kingswood by the GWR (the station is actually in the village of Kingswood, Lapworth is another nearby village) but the name was changed to Lapworth in 1902 to avoid confusion with another Kingswood in Surrey.

As well as being on the GWR's Oxford & Birmingham line Lapworth was originally the terminus of a branch line to Henley-in-Arden which closed in the First World War [1] (though there were plans to re-open it in the Second World War to carry munition trains, some track was relaid [2]). The Birmingham platform was originally an island platform and the now unused platform edge can still be seen through the railings as well as traces of the old trackbed. The footbridge still crosses where the two extra lines used to be. As with many stations Lapworth used to have a goods yard but these have now gone along with all buildings apart from a couple of "bus shelters".

Nowadays Lapworth is a sleepy unmanned station with trains every two hours stopping between Birmingham and Leamington Spa (some extra services stop in peak times and to Stratford-upon-Avon, and some London bound services stop at weekends). Interestingly the station's Permit to Travel machine still carries Network South East branding.
Chiltern 165 019 departs on a Leamington Spa service

A Chiltern service comes through, the former branch platform was on the right

Platform shelter

Permit to travel machine

Footbridge

A Cross Country service heads through

[1] Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith, Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham (Moor Street) (Middleton Press, 2006) p. 3
[2] Colin G Maggs, The Branch Lines of Warwickshire (Amberley, 2011) p. 152

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Waterloo (WLO)

Information
Type: National Rail
(Merseyrail Northern Line)
Station code: WLO
Opened: 1848
Platforms: 2
Waterloo in the Waterloo district of Northern Liverpool is named after the Royal Waterloo hotel which was opened to commemorate the battle [1].

The station was opened by the Liverpool, Crosby and Southport railway in 1848 as the original Southern terminus. Later the station was taken over by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (who electrified the line to 630v DC third rail at the start of the 20th century), LNWR, LMS and finally British Railways. The station is now managed by Merseyrail who provide all of the services that call there on the Northern Line to Southport.

Not far from the beach the station has always been popular and has over 1.5 million passengers a year. The station once had fine Victorian platform buildings and canopies but these were demolished despite protests in 1975 [2]. Nowadays the single island platform has just a bus shelter and a bike shed. The station entrance is up via stairs or a lift to street level. A ramp that offers access to the platform from another entrance next to the bus interchange opposite the main station building entrance is currently closed.

Though the station is officially just named Waterloo some public information screens display it as Waterloo (Merseyside) - just in case anyone mistakes it with London Waterloo.
Merseyrail 507 024 departs with a Southport bound service

Station frontage

Now disused ramp walkway to street level

Station sign

The platform has a bus shelter and a bike shed

[1] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 30
[2] Ibid. p. 30