King's Lynn railway station

King's Lynn railway station

Infobox UK station
name = King's Lynn
code = KLN

caption = The station building from the outside
manager = First Capital Connect
locale = King's Lynn
borough = King's Lynn and West Norfolk
usage0405 = 0.642
usage0506 = 0.622
usage0607 = 0.657
latitude = 52.75385
longitude = 0.403251
platforms = 2
events = Opened
years = 1846
events2 = Dereham line opens
years2 = 1846-1848
events3 = Hunstanton line opens
years3 = 1862
events4 = South Lynn station opens
years4 = 1865
events5 = Current station built
years5 = 1871
events6 = South Lynn station and M&GN closes
years6 = 1959
events7 = Dereham branch closes, services to Wisbech end
years7 = 1968
events8 = Hunstanton branch closes
years8 = 1969
events9 = Line electrified at 25 kV AC overhead, station refurbished
years9 = 1992

King's Lynn railway station serves the town of King's Lynn in Norfolk. The station is the terminus of the Fen Line from Cambridge, which is electrified at 25 kV AC overhead. It has been the only major railway station in the town since the closure of South Lynn railway station in 1959.

Early growth

The railway arrived in 1846, with the Ely and Lynn branch of the Great Eastern Railway. [cite book | title = Lost Railways of East Anglia | last = Oppitz | first = Leslie | year = 2002 | isbn = 1-85306-595-1 | publisher = Countryside Books | pages = p. 15] [cite book | title = Ely to Kings Lynn, including the Stoke Ferry Branch | last = Adderson | first = Richard | coauthors = Kenworthy, Graham | year = 2002 | isbn = 1-901706-532] A spur connecting the harbour was opened in 1849, and at one point was a complicated network of lines, boasting two swing bridges, serving premises on and around the town's South Quay. [Adderson & Kenworthy, map XXVI, and preface to ch. 4.] Another short branch, about three-quarters of a mile long, connecting the docks was opened in 1862 by the King's Lynn Docks & Railway Company. [Adderson & Kenworthy, preface to ch. 4.] [cite web | url = | title = William Burkitt's Life and Career | work = The Colonel Stephens Railway Museum | accessdate = 2007-09-02] The railway was initially not welcomed by the port authorities in King's Lynn; they predicted that sea-bound trade would decline, and were later proved correct when through-trains to London ended up carrying the majority of freight to the capital. [Oppitz 2002, p. 15.]

Expansion followed with the opening of several branches. The Lynn & Dereham Railway, which weaved a convert|26|mi|km|sing=on route to East Dereham via Narborough and Swaffham, was given the Royal Assent in 1845, [cite book | title = The Railway Shareholder's Manual; or, Practical Guide to all the Railways in the World | year = 1847 | last = Tuck | first = Henry | publisher = Effingham Wilson | pages = p. 130] opening in stages between 1846 and 1848; [Oppitz 2002, p. 17.] this later became part of the Great Eastern Railway. A line running north to the seaside resort of Hunstanton was opened in 1862,cite web | url = | title = Royal Insight Mailbox | month = January | year = 2005 | work = Insight Magazine | accessdate = 2007-09-02 | quote = [Wolferton Station's] origins go back to the opening of the Kings Lynn to Hunstanton branch railway line in 1862 [.] ] [Oppitz 2002, p. 15.] a journey celebrated by former Poet Laureate John Betjeman in a short BBC film about the line. [cite video | title = John Betjeman Goes By Train | year = 1962 | url = | people = Betjeman, John (Narrator); Freegard, Malcom (Producer) | publisher = British Transport Films/BBC TV East Anglia]

The Hunstanton line included Wolferton station, which served the Royal Family's Sandringham House, and so became the route of hundreds of Royal Trains. [According to "Insight" (2005), 645 in just 27 years.] Since Royal services to London had to first pass through King's Lynn before heading south to King's Cross, [Not, as was the norm for passenger services at the time, Liverpool Street; the reigning monarch is not permitted to enter the City of London, in whose boundaries Liverpool Street station lies, without the permission of the Lord Mayor.] crowds on King's Lynn station cheering the Royal Train became one of the town's cherished and memorable traditions. [cite news | work = The New York Times | date = 1986-06-29 | last = Wilson | first = Anne | title = NEW TONE FOR AN OLD PORT | url =]

King's Lynn also received services from the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway system, whose main station serving the town was in nearby South Lynn; a short shuttle service ran from King's Lynn to South Lynn as often as twenty times a day. [Adderson & Kenworthy, slide 106.] The station opened in 1865, serving Sutton Bridge and Spalding to the west. The line later expanded eastwards, reaching Norwich in 1882. [Oppitz 2002, pp. 26-28.]

King's Lynn's original station building was replaced by the current building in 1871, and has remained largely unchanged since; the original was a somewhat rudimentary timber building on the site of the goods yards of the time. [Adderson & Kenworthy, notes to map XXVIII and slide 114.]


At their peak, the railways in and around King's Lynn employed hundreds of people, [cite journal | journal = The ASLEF Journal | title = King's Lynn celebrates its century | month = March | year = 2007 | pages = p. 15] but Britain's extensive railway cutbacks in the late 1950s and the following decades badly affected King's Lynn's railway services. The 1959 closure of the former M&GN's lines resulted in the closure of South Lynn railway station in February 28th of that year, depriving King's Lynn of services to Norwich and Spalding. [Oppitz 2002, pp. 26-28.] [cite news | title = DETONATORS CRACKLE KNELL OF M&GN | work = Lynn News & Advertiser | date = 1959-03-03 | pages = 1] The dubious safety of a bridge over the Ouse, a very short way north-west of South Lynn station, was allegedly a significant factor in the closure of the whole route, [Ibid. " [A] crackle of detonators greeted [the final train's] crossing of the Clenchwarton bridge—the bridge whose safety and expensive replacement has been a strong point in the British Transport Commission's unflinching determination to close the “Joint”."] and was demolished later that year. A section of this line about a mile and a half long [cite map |publisher = Ordnance Survey | title = North West Norfolk (Sheet 132) | year = 1974 | scale = 1:50000 |page= |section = 6117 to 6218 |isbn= |id= ] was left open for freight into the 1980s, transporting materials like oil and limestone to the sugar beet factory (since closed). [Adderson & Kenworthy, slide 107.]

Other services suffered a similar fate in the following years. Passenger services to Hunstanton were discontinued in 1969, [Oppitz 2002, pp. 14-15.] services to Wisbech (via Magdalen Road) ended in 1968, [Oppitz 2002, p. 19.] and the line to Dereham was closed in the same year, save for a three-mile [To be precise, convert|2.9|mi|km. See citation | author = Griffiths, Tim (Office of Rail Regulation) | title = Consultation on Caps for Freight Track Access Charges December 2006 | url = | pages = 54] section for sand freight from King's Lynn to Middleton. [Oppitz 2002, p. 18.] [cite web | url ='MNF13600' | title = Norfolk Heritage Explorer Record 13600 (Lynn and Dereham Railway) | author = Norfolk County Council | work = Norfolk Explorer | accessdate = 2007-09-04] The closure of these services left only one passenger route in operation—services to Ely and Cambridge on the Fen Line.

Freight services to King's Lynn were less swiftly, but even more extensively, affected by cutbacks. Campbell's made heavy use of rail transport after opening its factory in Lynn in 1959, its curtain-sided wagons being one of the more distinctive sights on the Fen Line; but with the withdrawal of Speedlink services in the early 1990s, this traffic was lost to road transport. [Adderson & Kenworthy, slide 91.] The branch to the harbour was progressively shortened before its final closure at around the same time, [Adderson & Kenworthy, map XXVI, and preface to ch. 4.] and the line to the docks closed as well (except for a short stub allowing the aforementioned freight trains from Middleton to change direction), the last train passing over the line in June 1994. The station's once-extensive goods yard suffered the same fate, the site being taken over by the station's car park and two large shops.

To the present

Before electrification in 1992, InterCity (latterly Network SouthEast) locomotives operated most services, normally pulling British Rail Mark 2b coaches. Many of these services featured full-service restaurant cars. The locomotives were usually Class 37 diesel-electrics, [Adderson & Kenworthy, slide 90. See also:
* [ A 37 opens up on a Kings Lynn - Liverpool St service.]
] sometimes 47s. [Adderson & Kenworthy, slides 79, 107. See also:
* [ 47528 with 1C78 Kings Lynn- Liverpool Street at Littlebury on 5 April 1987.]
* [ 47574 at Kings Lynn, 1987]
] Freight services were operated by a similar array of diesel locomotives, [Adderson & Kenworthy, slides 70, 80.] as well as Class 20s, Class 31s, and the occasional Class 08 shunter. [Adderson & Kenworthy, slides 63, 92, 107. See also:
* [ 08757 and 08638 at King's Lynn, 1988]
* [ Class 08 at King's Lynn]
* [ 20214/170 bound for King's Lynn]
* [ 31 236 at King's Lynn, 1977]
] Off-peak links were often provided by Metro-Cammell diesel multiple units, such as the Class 101. [Adderson & Kenworthy, slides 32, 80, 109. See also:
* [ Class 101 DMU at the fuel point and stabling facilities at Kings Lynn]

For many years after electrification, and the consequent removal of diesel locomotives from passenger services, Class 317 electrical multiple units monopolised services out of King's Lynn; while they were not as comfortable as the previous fleet of locomotive-hauled coaches, they quickly developed a reputation for reliability. [Adderson & Kenworthy, slide 119.] Today's services are, for the most part, served by former-British Rail Class 365s, although Class 317s remain in use on the small number of Monday-Friday peak-hour services operated by National Express East Anglia between King's Lynn and London Liverpool Street.

The few freight trains that visit King's Lynn today—sand trains from the Middleton Towers branch—are usually hauled by Class 66 locomotives, operated by EWS. Occasionally, enthusiast railtours operate on this branch as well. [cite web | url = | title = Notable Workings - Saturday 21st October 2006 | date = 2006-10-21 | work = | accessdate = 2007-09-06]

The station is primarily served by First Capital Connect as part of their service from London King's Cross to King's Lynn. Outside peak hours services run non-stop between London and Cambridge as part of a half-hourly Cambridge service; one train per hour then continues beyond Cambridge, stopping at all stations on the Fen Line to King's Lynn. A small number of services, operated by National Express East Anglia during rush hours, travel to Liverpool Street instead; in the past, through-trains from London always started from Liverpool Street, but services were shifted to King's Cross in the 1990s.

When the Thameslink Programme is completed, King's Lynn will join the Thameslink network of cross-London services. This will mean that most trains for London from King's Lynn will no longer stop at King's Cross; instead, they will be diverted onto the Thameslink route and on to St Pancras, Farringdon, and various destinations thereafter. [cite web | url = | title = Thameslink Programme (Thameslink 2000) | work = | accessdate = 2007-09-02] The Thameslink programme is expected to reach King's Lynn in 2015. [cite web | url = | title = East is at the heart of strategy for rail growth | work = Government News Network | date = 2007-07-24 | accessdate = 2007-09-02]

See also

* Fen Line
* King's Lynn


External links

* [ All Saints' Church - South Lynn]

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