Leamington_Spa_railway_station

Leamington Spa railway station

Leamington Spa railway station serves the town of Leamington Spa, in Warwickshire, England. It is situated on Old Warwick Road towards the southern edge of the town centre.

History

It is located on the site of the first through-station in the town, opened by the Great Western Railway (GWR) on its new line from Birmingham to Oxford in 1852.

The London and North-Western Railway (LNWR) had reached Leamington eight years earlier, in 1844, with a branch from Coventry. That line, however, terminated about a mile and a half from the town centre, at Milverton, and the LNWR did not open a more central station until 1854. The station booking hall was sympathetically refurbished over the five months to March 2008 to resemble the original Great Western Railway art-deco style, including the installation of ticket barriers. GWR-style running in boards have been installed at the 'up' end of platforms 2 & 3.

The signal box at Leamington saw the first conventional use of British Rail Solid State Interlocking in 1985 when control was transferred from the original Leamington North mechanical box to a new Power Box situated nearby. In 2006 trials of the new Westinghouse Rail Systems Westlock interlocking commenced, which replaced the old SSI completely in 2008. The signal box now covers an area from a point near Warwick to Banbury Junction, just north of Banbury railway station.

The station today

Routes

Three lines radiate from Leamington:

  • one heading northwest to Birmingham by way of Warwick and Solihull, with a branch to Stratford-upon-Avon diverging at Hatton, some six miles from Leamington;
  • one going north through Kenilworth to Coventry;
  • one heading southeast towards Banbury, beyond which it splits into routes heading for London (Marylebone) and for Reading via Oxford.

Operators

As of December 2007, Leamington station is served by three passenger train operators: Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, and London Midland. Chiltern Railways operate the station, which is owned by Network Rail. Although the station is operated by Chiltern Railways, the stabling rights belong to London Midland. This unusual situation means that if Chiltern Railways wished to stable one of their trains at Leamington Spa, they would have to ask London Midland for permission to do so, and pay a fee for the privilege.

The original privatisation system resulted in the station being operated by Central Trains (London Midland's predecessor), with a half hourly service, along with an hourly Chiltern Railways service and an hourly Virgin Cross Country service. The huge expansion in investment by the Chiltern Railways franchise and the increase in services brought about resulted in Central Trains services mainly being cut back to Dorridge outside of peak hours, with Chiltern Railways operating two trains per hour to London Marylebone in place of the former local service. This also resulted in the transfer of operator of Warwick, Hatton, Lapworth and Leamington Spa stations to Chiltern Railways, as well as Birmingham Moor Street. This is the origin of the unusual stabling rights status of the station, an anomaly also existing at Shrewsbury station, with the majority service operator and station operator Arriva Trains Wales not holding the stabling rights, which belong to London Midland.

Layout

The present art deco- style station, which dates from immediately prior to the Second World War (it was comprehensively rebuilt between 1937 and 1939), has four platforms, numbered one to four from south to north. Platforms one and four are west-facing bays, used only by local trains to and from Birmingham Snow Hill or Stratford-upon-Avon starting or terminating at Leamington. Platforms two and three are through platforms: platform two is used by services to Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham Snow Hill or Coventry, Birmingham New Street and beyond; platform three is for departures to Banbury and London Marylebone or Reading. Two central lines allow freight trains or other non-stop services to pass through the station when platforms two and three are occupied.

Leamington Avenue and Leamington Milverton stations

The first railway line to reach Leamington Spa did so in December 1844. It was a branch line from Coventry, built by the London and Birmingham Railway (amalgamated two years later into the London and North-Western Railway (LNWR)). The terminus (named "Leamington") was immediately north of Rugby Road in New Milverton, roughly half-way between the centres of Warwick and Leamington (that is to say, about a mile and a half from each).

In March 1851 the LNWR opened another branch, this time from Rugby, which ran through Leamington and made an end-on connection to the Coventry branch at Milverton. Although the new line ran briefly parallel to the route of the Great Western Railway's Birmingham to Oxford line, which was then under construction in southern Leamington, and within spitting distance of the more central GWR station which opened in 1852, the LNWR did not open a station of its own alongside the GWR station until February 1854. This was evidently a somewhat hastily constructed timber affair: a more permanent brick-built station followed in 1860. The LNWR's new station, with its entrance off Avenue Road, was called, appropriately enough, "Leamington Avenue", with the old station being renamed "Warwick (Milverton)".

Despite their proximity, the two railways in Leamington remained separate for many years. Although a link to allow the transfer of goods traffic between the two lines was installed in 1864, it was not until 1908 that a junction was constructed for passenger trains. This (in principle) permitted LNWR trains from the Rugby direction to use the GWR station. Now a joint station, the latter became known as "Leamington Spa General".

In October 1883 the LNWR moved its Milverton station to a new site no more than 200 yards further south, where the railway crossed Warwick New Road. Eastnor Terrace, which contained some of Leamington's finest buildings, had to be demolished for this new project. As the new station was on an embankment, the platforms and shelters were constructed of wood, with the other station offices being built below at road level. The original station at Milverton remained the site of the LNWR's Leamington locomotive depot and turntable, and right up until the final closure of the line from Rugby, trains from that direction terminated and turned round there.

Leamington Avenue and Milverton stations (by then called "Leamington Spa (Avenue)" and "Leamington Spa (Milverton) for Warwick" respectively) both suffered closure under the Beeching cuts of 1965. Almost all the trains from these stations had been local services, to Kenilworth, Coventry, Rugby and (earlier) Daventry and Weedon. Although the route to Coventry survives (a new junction was installed in 1966 allowing access from the west end of the surviving (former Great Western) station) and now carries an intensive service of long-distance trains, all the intermediate stations were closed. The line to Rugby was lifted entirely. Most of its trackbed exists, but there is a substantial gap in south-eastern Leamington where the new housing estate of Sydenham has been built over the former route.

Renaming

The station at Milverton has had eight names:

  1. - 1844: Leamington;
  2. - 1854: Warwick (Milverton);
  3. - 1856: Warwick;
  4. - 1857: Warwick (Milverton);
  5. - 1875: Leamington Milverton (Warwick);
  6. - 1876: Milverton (for Warwick);
  7. - 1884: Warwick (Milverton);
  8. - 1952: Leamington Spa (Milverton) for Warwick.

However, relocation of the station in 1883 did not cause a renaming.

Services

Chiltern Railways services run at frequent intervals (mostly half-hourly) between Marylebone station in London and Birmingham Snow Hill, with further trains (at approximately two-hourly intervals) between Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon. A number of the Birmingham trains start from Kidderminster in the mornings and terminate there in the evenings.

Four long-distance trains an hour, operated by CrossCountry, also serve Leamington station throughout most of the day, two northbound and two southbound. Typically, these alternate between services from Manchester to Reading (and vice versa) and others running from Edinburgh and/or Newcastle by way of Sheffield to Reading and Bournemouth by way of Southampton Central (and vice versa). Half of these CrossCountry services also serve Coventry and Birmingham International, and all of these services serve Birmingham New Street.

London Midland operates a limited number of peak-hour trains to Birmingham Snow Hill at the beginning of the day and from there in the evening.

On Sundays, the frequency of trains is in most cases about half of that indicated above.

Wrexham and Shropshire services also pass through the station on their journeys between Wrexham General and London Marylebone but pass straight through the station without stopping.

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See also

Leamington to Rugby line

External links

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