Sunday, 11 May 2014

Ely 1986

(All 28.4.1986 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Another place I've only visited once (so far), Ely in Cambridgeshire. The date is 28.4.1986 and the station is busy with a variety of diesel traction including classic DMUs. Sadly Eastern Region units were not numbered, so identification isn't easy. It's probably safe to say that all the units here are now scrapped. I particularly like the  one that appears to be in GWR livery - it's actually a South Yorkshire Transport vehicle, so still quite a way from home.

You'll also notice a lot of steam age infrastructure still around, including semaphore signals.

Ely railway station serves the city of Ely in CambridgeshireEngland. The station lies on the Fen Line from Cambridge to King's Lynn, which is electrified at 25 kV AC overhead. It is a busy station served by trains running to a variety of destinations including Cambridge, Stansted Airport, London (King's Cross and Liverpool Street), Ipswich, Norwich, King's Lynn, Peterborough, Leicester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool. Ely station was built in 1845 by the Eastern Counties Railway at a cost of £81,500, the land on which it was built being a marshy swamp.[2] The station was modified substantially in the early 1990s, at the time that electrification was taking place.
Three other non-electrified lines meet at Ely:
Ely station won first prize in the station of the year competition 1987 (medium-sized category).


The station is served by four operators:
  • Great Northern serve the station as part of their service from London King's Cross to King's Lynn. Outside peak hours the services run non-stop between London and Cambridge as part of the half-hourly "Cambridge Cruiser" service. One train per hour then continues beyond Cambridge, stopping at all stations on the Fen Line to King's Lynn. The journey from King's Cross to Ely is timetabled to take just over an hour on the fastest services. Services are more frequent (up to every half an hour) during peak hours when demand is highest. During peak hours most trains divide (northbound) or couple (southbound) at Cambridge which adds some minutes to the journey time. In addition, during peak hours most services make additional stops between London Kings Cross and Cambridge which contributes further to an extended journey time. During recent years the number of direct services has increased; from the timetable change of December 2013 there are direct services from London every half hour from 16:44 to 23:14. Some off-peak services can take as little as 1 hour and 5 minutes between London and Ely. During peak hours they can take up to 1 hour and 21 minutes. Most services are operated by Class 365 electrical multiple unit. Additional peak services to/from London start or terminate at Ely.
The Hunstanton portion of the 10.39 service from Liverpool Street at Ely in 1958
Station platforms viewed from across the bridge
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
CambridgeCrossCountry March
Limited Service
ThetfordEast Midlands Trains
Limited Service
Limited Service
WaterbeachGreat Northern
Fen Line
CambridgeAbellio Greater Anglia Brandon
Limited Services
Bury St EdmundsAbellio Greater Anglia
WaterbeachAbellio Greater Anglia
Liverpool Street-King's Lynn/Ely
Peak only
Historical railways
Line open, station closed
Great Eastern Railway Terminus
Line open, station closed
Great Eastern Railway Terminus
Disused railways
Line and station closed
Great Eastern Railway Terminus


There are two branches of Locoespresso on the station, one on platform 1 and the other on platform 2/3. These serve hot and cold drinks as well as snacks, magazines and newspapers. Platform 1 also includes an L.A. Golden Bean kiosk which sells hot and cold drinks and snacks.


On Friday 22 June 2007 a goods train derailed at Hawk Bridge which carries the Ipswich line over the River Great Ouse a mile south of Ely. Photographs showed derailed wagons on their side, only prevented from plunging off the embankment by subsidiary structures and their attachment to the rest of the train. As a consequence of the derailment the bridge had to be rebuilt and there were no train services between Ely and Bury St. Edmunds until the works were completed on 21 December 2007.

Low bridge

Immediately north-east of Ely station, the railway lines pass on a bridge over the A142. The height available for road traffic passing beneath the bridge is only 9.0 feet (2.7 m) which is unusually low for a bridge over an A-road. Despite the various warnings, the limited headroom is a frequent cause of accidents. High vehicles must use a level crossing next to the bridge.
Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05Increase 1.255 million
2005/06Increase 1.279 million
2006/07Increase 1.421 million
2007/08Increase 1.506 million
2008/09Increase 1.583 million
2009/10Decrease 1.580 million
2010/11Increase 1.732 million
2011/12Increase 1.824 million
2012/13Increase 1.878 million
2013/14Increase 1.976 million

Waverley - the next step

Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, gave a speech at Carlisle on 23 April addressing Scotland's future. He believed the Borders Railway will be profoundly successful and said that its success will 'calibrate' any feasibility study on further extension to complete the connection between the Borders, via Hawick, and Carlisle. Simon Walton, the chairman of the Campaign for Borders Rail, told the First Minister this unfairly means the economic prospects for those communities depend on the patronage of the line between Tweedbank and Edinburgh, rather than their own merits. Mr Walton said "The First Minister spoke at length about harnessing the potential of communities on both sides of the Border, but the Central Borders communities are being missed out. We still lobby for the reinstatement of the remainder of the line, because we believe that the Borders communities deserve their economic regeneration as soon as possible, and the railway would be a direct, tangible and effective means of doing so." A reopened line from the Borders to Carlisle would give an important link, initially to the West Coast Main Line through to the North West, Midlands and London. It would subsequently allow High Speed Rail services running through onto HS2 south of Crewe. The benefits of this link to the Borders' economy are there and must be explored and identified sooner rather than later.