Breckland Line

Breckland Line
Breckland Line
Type Heavy rail
Locale Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk
Opened 1845
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) National Express East Anglia
East Midlands Trains
Rolling stock Class 158
Class 170
Track gauge Standard gauge
Loading gauge W10
Electrification 25 kV AC (between Cambridge and Ely)
Operating speed 80-105mph
Route map


[v · d · e]Breckland Line
Head station
Junction to left Continuation to right
Wherry Lines/Bittern Line
Bridge over water
River Wensum
Unknown BSicon "exKBHFa" Straight track
Norwich Victoria
Unknown BSicon "xABZrg" Junction to right
Track turning left Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Continuation to right
Great Eastern Main Line
Unknown BSicon "AKRZu"
Unknown BSicon "AKRZu"
Unknown BSicon "eABZrg" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
to Ashwellthorpe
Station on track
Continuation to left Junction to right
Mid-Norfolk Railway to Dereham
Unknown BSicon "AKRZu"
Stop on track
Spooner Row (closed Sundays)
Station on track
Stop on track
Eccles Road (closed Sundays)
Stop on track
Harling Road (closed Sundays)
Bridge over water
River Thet
Unknown BSicon "AKRZu"
Unknown BSicon "exCONTr" Unknown BSicon "eABZlg"
to Holme Hale & Swaffham
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Roudham Junction
Unknown BSicon "eABZrg" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
former Thetford to Bury St Edmunds line
Station on track
Unknown BSicon "AKRZu"
Stop on track
Bridge over water
River Little Ouse
Bridge over water
Cut-off Channel
Stop on track
Lakenheath (closed weekdays)
Stop on track
Shippea Hill (closed Sundays)
Bridge over water
River Lark
Bridge over water
River Great Ouse
Continuation to left Junction from right
Fen Line to King's Lynn
Continuation to left Junction from right
Ely to Peterborough Line to Peterborough
Station on track
Junction to left Continuation to right
Ipswich to Ely Line to Ipswich
Unknown BSicon "exCONTr" Unknown BSicon "eABZrf"
former Ely and St Ives Railway
Stop on track
Junction from left Continuation to right
Ipswich to Cambridge Line
Station on track
Continuation to left Junction to right
Hitchin-Cambridge Line
Continuation forward
West Anglia Main Line

The Breckland Line runs from Cambridge in Cambridgeshire to Norwich in Norfolk, in East Anglia, England. It is so called because it runs through the Breckland region of Norfolk. The line also passes through Thetford Forest. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5, SRS 05.09 and part of SRS 05.05. It is classified as a secondary line except between Ely and Cambridge which is classified as London and South East commuter line.[1]

Preserved British_Railways Standard 7MT 70013 Oliver Cromwell at speed heading down the Ely-Norwich line near Hethersett on 11 March 2010 hauling a special train bound for the North Norfolk Railway.



The Norwich & Brandon Railway was incorporated in 1844 and backed by George & Robert Stephenson. It was opened as the Norfolk Railway on the 30th July 1845 and Eastern Counties Railway opened a route from Cambridge via Ely to Brandon on the same day.[2]


The line is double track throughout but is only electrified between Cambridge and Ely, at 25 kV AC. It has a loading gauge of W8 except for the section connecting the Ipswich to Ely Line to the Ely to Peterborough Line which is W10, and has a line speed of between 80-105 mph.[1]

With its well preserved stations, semaphore signalling and prior to Spring 2009 lineside telegraph poles, along with sections of jointed rail on wooden sleepers (gradually being replaced) the line has a very historical feel to it, although many sections are cleared for 90 mph running, with 100 mph being feasible.


The towns and villages served by the route are listed below (Ordnance Survey grid references for stations):

Places Grid references
Norwich TG239083
Wymondham TG114009
Spooner Row TM094974
Attleborough TM051950
Quidenham (Eccles Road) TM018900
East Harling (Harling Road) TL977879
Thetford TL867836
Brandon TL784872
Lakenheath TL723863
Shippea Hill TL641841
Ely TL543793
Cambridge TL461572


Some of the stations it serves see just one stopping train in each direction per day, mostly in the Norwich direction in the morning and from Norwich in the evening.

Passenger services are operated by several operators.

The line between Cambridge and Ely, part of the Fen Line to King's Lynn, is electrified at 25 kV AC, using overhead wires. The rest of the route between Ely and Norwich is not electrified, other than the final section into Norwich station, after joining with the electrified line from London.