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The old station building, which is now the rear entrance
|Local authority||Borough of Colchester|
|Managed by||Greater Anglia|
|Number of platforms||6|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections|
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|– Interchange||0.462 million|
|– Interchange||0.508 million|
|– Interchange||0.526 million|
|– Interchange||0.538 million|
|– Interchange||0.602 million|
|Original company||Eastern Counties Railway|
|Pre-grouping||Great Eastern Railway|
|Post-grouping||London and North Eastern Railway|
|29 March 1843||Opened|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Colchester from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
Colchester railway station (also known as Colchester North) is on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) in the East of England, and is the primary station serving the town of Colchester, Essex. Its three-letter station code is COL. It is 51 miles 52 chains (83.1 km) down the line from London Liverpool Street and on the GEML is situated between Marks Tey to the west and Manningtree to the east. Colchester is also the location of a major junction where the GEML links to the Sunshine Coast Line, which runs south to Clacton-on-Sea and, via a short branch, to Walton-on-the-Naze; services to and from Colchester Town also join the GEML at the Colchester junction. The junction is grade-separated so trains branching to and from Colchester Town or the Sunshine Coast Line do not cross the main line.
The station was opened on 29 March 1843 by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) and was named simply as Colchester. Locally, however, it is also known as Colchester North to distinguish it from Colchester Town station. Buses also use this unofficial name. Colchester station is not particularly conveniently sited for the town, but buses connect to the town centre. Colchester Town station is closer to the town centre (hence its name).
The ECR had planned to build a line from London to Norwich using a very similar route to that on which the Great Eastern Main Line operates today, but funding became a problem and apart from surveying a section onwards to Ardleigh, they were forced to abandon any further line construction.
It was three years later when the onward link to Ipswich was eventually opened by the Eastern Union Railway following intervention by business interests in Ipswich, the town having felt isolated by development of the railway to Norwich via Cambridge by the ECR.
As passenger numbers passing through the station increased, particularly with growth on the Sunshine Coast Line, the layout of the station became inadequate. This problem was heightened on summer weekends when large numbers of holiday trains destined for Clacton-on-Sea were added to the schedules. The station had also been built on a relatively sharp curve.
Prior to electrification of the lines, Colchester was modernised in 1962, with a new station building on the north side of the tracks. Following the reconstruction, the station has two main platforms. The "up" (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end. However, with the unusual layout of platforms, Colchester station gains the longest platform in the UK as the entire length (from platform 3 to 4) measures at 620m (2034ft). The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. There are also bay platforms at both ends of the up main platform. The London-end bay (platform 6) is used for peak trains to and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. The other bay platform (platform 5) is used for services to Colchester Town and Walton-on-the-Naze. The "down" side platform is an island platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.
The main ticket office is a modern glass-fronted design, sited on the north side of the station, and access to the platforms is via a subway. The previous station building is on the south side and provides access to the up platform for those with tickets or wanting to buy tickets from a machine. To the side of the main ticket office, there is a taxi rank, as well as multiple bus stops. Both entrances to the station have automatic ticket gates.
- On 12 July 1913, at approximately 3 pm, an express passenger train travelling at high speed collided with a light engine at Colchester due to a signalman's error. Part of the passenger train was derailed. The train's driver, guard and fireman were killed and 14 passengers were injured.
- On 20 December 1990, Class 312 electric multiple unit 312 714 was derailed whilst working a Clacton-on-Sea to London Liverpool Street service.
- 1 train per hour (tph) to Clacton-on-Sea
- 6 tph to Liverpool Street
- 3 tph to Colchester Town, of which one continues to Walton-on-the-Naze
- 3 tph to Ipswich, of which two continue to Norwich
- Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 65. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508.
- Allen, Cecil J. (1955). The Great Eastern Railway. Shepperton: Ian Allan Ltd. p. 4.
- Allen 1955, p. 24
- Allen 1955, p. 26
- Colchester station plan: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations-and-destinations/stations-made-easy/colchester-station-plan
- Simon Webb (31 January 2013). The Colchester Book of Days. Perseus Books Group. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-0-7524-8908-7.
- Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 25. ISBN 0-906899-03-6.
- McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "January 1990 to December 1990". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- Table 11 National Rail timetable, May 2019
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|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|