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Banbury railway station

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Banbury railway station

Place Banbury
Local authority Cherwell
Grid reference SP462404
Station code BAN
Managed by Chiltern Railways
Number of platforms 4[1][2]
DfT category C1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2008/09 Increase 1.580 million
2009/10 Increase 1.706 million
2010/11 Increase 1.857 million
2011/12 Increase 1.943 million
- Interchange 0.317 million
2012/13 Increase 2.055 million
- Interchange Increase 0.355 million
Original company Great Western Railway
Pre-grouping GWR
Post-grouping GWR
2 September 1850[3] Opened as Banbury
after July 1938 Renamed Banbury General
1958[3] Rebuilt by BR
after 1961 Renamed Banbury
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Banbury from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Banbury railway station serves the town of Banbury in Oxfordshire, England. The station is operated by Chiltern Railways, on the Chiltern Main Line, and has four platforms in use.


A 1911 Railway Clearing House map of railways in the vicinity of Banbury.

Banbury Bridge Street station opened on 2 September 1850,[4] some four months after the Buckinghamshire Railway (L&NWR) opened its Banbury Merton Street terminus. When meadows and the recently discussed racecourse at Grimsbury were sold to the Great Western Railway in about 1850, the owner also sold the other part of his land, north of the Middleton road to the Banbury Freehold Land Society, which was financially backed by Cobb's Bank, on which to build middle-class houses, but development was slow at the time and some plots were never built upon.[5]

The station was going to be part of the GWR's Oxford and Rugby Railway, before the problems with changing gauges at Rugby prevented it. The 24 miles (39 km) single track extension from Oxford to Banbury did open, and at first Banbury was just a single platform through station (works were continuing to Birmingham) however the popularity of the line meant that the route was soon double tracked barely two years later, and the station was given an extra platform in an up and down configuration. In 1884 an extra up line was added, and by 1903 Banbury had the extra up line converted into up and down bays, along with an extra bay on the downside, and freight loops to cope with traffic from the Great Central Main Line joining at Banbury Junction to the north. The inclusion of terminating bays and freight loops reflected Banbury's increasing strategic position in the national network. The Station was rebuilt into its present form in 1958.[3]

Banbury was once a junction for the line to Buckingham, however that closed in the 1960s. There was also another station very nearby at Banbury Merton Street. Banbury Bridge Street station occupied one of the most strategic and important locations in the entire rail network in Britain. For example, the Aberdeen to Penzance Express used the Woodford Halse branch of the GCR through Banbury as part of its journey[6] and the "Ports to Ports Express" between the North-East (Newcastle upon Tyne, Middlesbrough etc.) and South Wales (Cardiff, Newport) used the Great Central Railway branch line and the Banbury and Cheltenham Direct Railway, and passed though Banbury[6] as well as Newcastle — Bournemouth, Newcastle — Southampton, YorkSwindon Sleeper, Bournemouth — Birkenhead Woodside/Manchester Piccadilly, etc.[6] Most Cross Country Services in Britain passed through Banbury, which helped the station become just as, if not more, important than the London termini, and also helped the growth of the town and its cattle market.

The station was renamed Banbury General after nationalisation in 1948 to distinguish it from Merton Street station. The suffix was officially discontinued by 1974,[7] but remained on tickets until the Edmondson type ticket machines were replaced in the early 1980s.

The current railway station is on the site of the Great Western Railway line that opened to Banbury in 1850. The original station's overall roof survived until 1953, 5 years before a rebuild in 1958. The rebuilding of the station was delayed due to the Second World War,[3] and could have been based on the GWR's new station at Leamington Spa, which was finished just before war commenced.[8]

Passenger traffic at Banbury has grown rapidly: between 2003 and 2010, the number of passengers using the station increased by 85%.[9]

Former services through Banbury

  • "Ports to Ports" Middlesbrough/Hull/Sunderland — Cardiff/Newport/Swansea/Barry Island/Barry
  • Bournemouth — Birkenhead
  • Birkenhead — Dover Margate and Brighton via Reading and Redhill. This was operated jointly by the GWR and the SR, southbound once daily by one company and northbound by the other.

The station


Map of the platforms at Banbury station.

After the rebuilding of the station in 1956–58 there were six numbered platforms: these were formed into two islands, the western one having two through tracks and a single bay at its northern end, whilst the eastern island had a single through platform, but two bays, one at each end. The two islands were connected to each other, and to the station entrance hall, by a footbridge.

At that time, the three through platforms were numbered 1, 3 & 4 from west to east, whilst the three bays were 2, 5 & 6. All but one have been re-designated since — the present-day platform 2 was formerly platform 3, whilst the un-numbered bay at its northern end was originally platform 2;[10] and present-day platforms 3 & 4 were formerly 4 & 6 respectively.[11] Platform 5, at the northern end of the present platform 3, has lost both its track and its number.

The present station has four numbered platforms (plus one active bay not numbered), numbered 1 to 4 from west to east, and are grouped as two island platforms.

Platform 1 is a through platform used as a bay platform by First Great Western's terminating local trains to Oxford and commuter trains beyond to Reading and Paddington, and by Chiltern Railways through and terminating services from the south — all terminating trains at this platform travel a short distance up the line before reversing back to the same platform and boarding outbound passengers, unless a train has since occupied the platform, which then means the train reverses to platform 3 to board passengers, It is also used as an emergency through platform if one of the others is out of use for any reason.

Platforms 2 and 3 are through platforms: platform 2 is for Chiltern services north to Leamington Spa, CrossCountry services to Birmingham New Street, Manchester, The North West and Scotland; platform 3 is for Chiltern services to London via Bicester and Cross Country services to Oxford, Reading and the South Coast.

There are also two terminal platforms: platform 4 is for terminating Chiltern services to and from London; An unnumbered bay platform (trains stopping here are classified as either or both Platforms 1 & 2, usually 1) is used by terminating Chiltern services to and from Birmingham and Stratford. Freight loops serve as main through lines for non-stopping freight trains. Most passenger services passing Banbury stop at the station, and heritage trains stop here to fill up on water.

Many redundant loops and sidings surround the station: most of these were for goods services stopping at Banbury, which have all disappeared. Two goods loops survive to allow the stoppage of goods trains for the uninterrupted passage of passenger trains.

The station is also being considered for remodelling to improve operational flexibility by Network Rail[12]

Two new lower-quadrant semaphore signals were installed in late 2010 to allow passenger trains in platforms 1 & 2 to depart in the up direction. Their numbers are BS27 and BS33, and are controlled from Banbury South signal box.[13]


Chiltern Railways provide most trains to Banbury, with trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill, Stratford-upon-Avon and Kidderminster, as well as trains from London terminating there.

It is the northern terminus of First Great Western's local services from Oxford which operate Mondays to Saturdays only.

Banbury is also served by CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Reading.

2008 train fire

On 14 March 2008 a CrossCountry Voyager forming the 1625 hrs service to Derby had a fire in the air vents while standing at platform 2 at Banbury. Passengers in both trains at the station and the station itself were evacuated. Fire crews arrived and the fire was extinguished. No one perished in the blaze, which was only a minor fire.[14]

Services and operators

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Leamington Spa   Chiltern Railways
London to Birmingham
  Kings Sutton
Chiltern Railways
Birmingham to Oxford
Oxford or Kings Sutton
Chiltern Railways
Chiltern Main Line
fast services
Bicester North
High Wycombe
Leamington Spa   CrossCountry
Manchester — Bournemouth
Newcastle — Reading
Terminus   First Great Western
Cherwell Valley Line
  Kings Sutton
Historical railways
Line open, station closed
  Great Western Railway
Oxford and Rugby Railway
  Kings Sutton
Line and station open
Disused railways
Chalcombe Road Halt
Line and station closed
  Great Central Railway
Banbury branch

See also


  1. ^ Turner, John Grey (7 October 2007). "Banbury Station relief line and sidings" (photograph). 
  2. ^ Railway Track Diagrams. Book 3 (4th ed.). Diagram 13B.  
  3. ^ a b c d Daniel, John (15 March 2011). "A selection of Great Western stations". The Great Western archive. John Daniel. 
  4. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 26.  
  5. ^ Crossley, Alan (ed.); Colvin, Christina; Cooper, Janet; Cooper, N.H.; Harvey, P.D.A.; Hollings, Marjory; Hook, Judith; Jessup, Mary;  
  6. ^ a b c "Cross-Country Routes". Mike's Railway History. EngRailHistory. May 2008. 
  7. ^ Slater, J.N., ed. (July 1974). "Notes and News: Western's last "General"".  
  8. ^ "Leamington's New Station". Warwickshire Railways. 
  9. ^ Office of the Rail Regulator data: see infobox at head of article.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (February 2003). "fig. 107". Didcot to Banbury. Western Main Lines. Midhurst: Middleton Press.  
  11. ^ Simpson, Bill (1997). A History of the Railways of Oxfordshire. Part 1: The North. Banbury and Witney: Lamplight. p. 28.  
  12. ^ Route 17 West Midlands. Route Plans 2007. London:  
  13. ^ Plumb, Geoff (February 2011).  
  14. ^ "Train Fire is out".  

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