Hitchin railway station

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Hitchin National Rail
The tracks and platform 2
Place Hitchin
Local authority District of North Hertfordshire
Grid reference TL194297
Station code HIT
Managed by Great Northern
Number of platforms 2
DfT category C2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2014/15 Increase 3.036 million
2015/16 Increase 3.199 million
2016/17 Increase 3.213 million
2017/18 Increase 3.238 million
2018/19 Increase 3.265 million
– Interchange   0.174 million
Original company Great Northern Railway
Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway
7 August 1850 Station opened
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Hitchin from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
The front entrance to the station in 2017
Auto-train to Bedford in 1955
Double-headed train of bricks off Bedford line in 1957
A 1902 Railway Clearing House map of railways in the vicinity of Hitchin (right)

Hitchin railway station serves the town of Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) north east of the town centre and 31 miles 74 chains (51.4 km) north of London King's Cross on the East Coast Main Line.[1]

Until the current Stevenage station opened in 1973, many Intercity services stopped at Hitchin.

In August 2007 Hitchin was awarded Secure Station status after improvements to station security were made by First Capital Connect, including new lighting, extra CCTV and the installation of automatic ticket gates.


The first section of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) - that from Louth to a junction with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at Grimsby - opened on 1 March 1848, but the southern section of the main line, between Maiden Lane and Peterborough, was not opened until August 1850. Hitchin was one of the original stations, opening with the line on 7 August 1850.[2][3][4]

On 21 October 1850 Hitchin became a junction station with the opening of the first section of the Royston and Hitchin Railway, between Hitchin and Royston (it was extended to Shepreth on 3 August 1851).[5] The Midland Railway (MR) opened a route from Leicester via Bedford to Hitchin on 1 February 1858, by which MR trains used the GNR to reach London.[6]

After the opening of the Midland Railway's own line from Bedford via Luton to London, and the line's terminus at St. Pancras in 1868, their line between Bedford and Hitchin was reduced to branch status. It lost its passenger service in 1961 and was closed completely in 1964, with the exception of a stub from Bedford to Cardington which itself was closed in 1969. In May 1964 part of the line was used for the railway scene in the film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.[7] The embankment for the line could, until early 2012, still be walked from just north of the station, through the fields to Ickleford, but this section is now closed off. Opened in June 2013 a new embankment now carries a single-track line onto a viaduct for Letchworth-bound trains over the East Coast Main Line as part of the Hitchin Flyover project.[8]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 14 April 1949, the solicitor and historian Reginald Hine died by suicide here by jumping in front of the slow train from Cambridge.[9][10]
  • On 19 November 1958, a freight train overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with another. A third freight train ran into the wreckage.[11]


Great Northern Route
King's Lynn
Downham Market
Cambridge North
St. Neots
Ashwell and Morden
Letchworth Garden City
Welwyn North
Hertford North
Welwyn Garden City
Welham Green
Brookmans Park
Crews Hill
Potters Bar
Gordon Hill
Enfield Chase
Hadley Wood
Grange Park
New Barnet
Winchmore Hill
Oakleigh Park
Palmers Green
New Southgate
Bowes Park
Alexandra Palace
London Underground Finsbury Park
London Underground London King's Cross
Drayton Park
Highbury & Islington London Underground London Overground
Essex Road
Old Street London Underground
Moorgate London Underground

There are 12 car platforms on the Up and Down Slow lines only. 17 chains (340 m) to the north of the station is Cambridge Junction, where northbound trains for Cambridge need to cross the two Up (southbound) lines.[1]

Following a refurbishment of the station by First Capital Connect in 2007, the station's subway was refurbished at a cost of £300k.[12] The refurbishment also involved general cosmetic work throughout the station, as well as a new high quality waiting room in the existing station buildings on Platform 2. This waiting room is fully accessible at all times via the automatic doors.

There is a small shop located by the stairs on Platform two, and various vending machines throughout the station.

The station has a large booking office and a variety of modern Touch Screen ticket machines located in the booking office, and the station's cycle facilities were completely upgraded in 2007 and now include sheltered spaces for 68 bicycles provided next to the station buildings. The station also has help points throughout.

Hitchin station now has automatic ticket gates at the station entrance, which were installed by First Capital Connect during 2007.

In 2013, Network Rail proposed plans for two new lifts, one on each platform to improve access via the existing subway for those with pushchairs or disabilities, funded through the Department for Transport’s Access for All scheme.[13] In September 2014 the new lifts opened, after a two-month delay, giving step-free access to the southbound number 1 platform.[14]


Hitchin railway station is managed by Great Northern and has two platforms situated on the slow lines. Platform 1 is used for trains towards London and a few starting/terminating services to/from London. Platform 2 is used for trains towards Peterborough and Cambridge. Platform 1 also provides access to the sidings, used for removing stone and scrap metal.

In the current 2019-2020 off-peak timetable, there are two trains per hour to both Peterborough and Cambridge northbound. Two of the Cambridge services calls at principal stations only whilst the other two serves all intermediate stations; Peterborough trains call at all stations north of here. Southbound there are two trains per hour to Brighton, two trains per hour to Horsham and two trains per hour to King's Cross - the services to Brighton and Horsham are limited stop and then run via St Pancras whilst the trains to King's Cross serve principal stations then Potters Bar, Finsbury Park and King's Cross. There are a number of peak hour service variations and extra calls, including some trains that start & finish at Royston, trains to Kings Lynn and limited stop expresses to Peterborough and London.[15]

On Sundays, there is a southbound service of two trains per hour to London (one semi-fast, one stopper) and one semi-fast train per hour to Gatwick Airport via London St Pancras. There are two trains per hour to Cambridge (semi-fast and stopping), and an hourly service to Peterborough.

Future Thameslink services

After the Thameslink Programme is complete, Great Northern services will be extended to destinations south of central London.[16] In September 2016, a proposed timetable was released; the only planned service not on the current Thameslink timetable is:

Prior to 2016, it was proposed to run the stopping Cambridge services to/from Tattenham Corner instead,[17] however this proposal has since been cancelled, in favour of Maidstone East.

Junction development

Down trains from London to Cambridge used to use a ladder crossing over the up lines in order to reach the Cambridge Line, which often caused significant delays to trains in both directions.Together with the Digswell Viaduct some 10 miles (16 km) to the south, the flat junction just north of Hitchin was a major bottleneck.[18]

In June 2013 Network Rail completed a flyover to carry Down trains to Cambridge over the top of the main line,[19] built at a final cost of £47million [20]


Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Great Northern
Great Northern Peterborough Line (fast)
Great Northern
Great Northern Peterborough Line (semi-fast)
Peterborough to Horsham
Great Northern
Great Northern Cambridge Line (semi-fast)
Cambridge to Brighton
Disused railways
Line and station closed
London, Midland and Scottish Railway Terminus
Historical railways
Line open, station relocated
Great Northern Railway
Line open, station closed


  1. ^ a b Yonge, John (September 2006) [1994]. Jacobs, Gerald (ed.). 2: Eastern. Railway Track Diagrams (3rd ed.). Bradford on Avon: Trackmaps. p. 15 section B. ISBN 0-9549866-2-8.
  2. ^ Gordon, W.J. (1989) [1910]. Our Home Railways. London: Bracken Books. volume II, p. 44. ISBN 1-85170-314-4.
  3. ^ Awdry, Christopher (1990). Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies. London: Guild Publishing. p. 135. CN 8983.
  4. ^ Butt, R.V.J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Yeovil: Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 121. ISBN 1-85260-508-1. R508.
  5. ^ Awdry 1990, p. 158
  6. ^ Gordon 1989, volume I, pp. 77–8
  7. ^ Howard, Philip (2006). Take the Train from Hitchin. Hitchin: Hitchin Historical Society. pp. 20–22. ISBN 0-9552411-0-3.
  8. ^ Network Rail. "Hitchin Flyover". Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  9. ^ Whitmore, Richard (2007). The Ghosts of Reginald Hine. Hitchin: Mattingley Press. p. 183. ISBN 0-9554662-0-2.
  10. ^ Fleck, Alan L. (2004). "Hine, Reginald Leslie (1883–1949)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  11. ^ Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. pp. 40–14. ISBN 0-906899 03 6.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Access for All: funding to improve accessibility at rail stations
  14. ^ http://www.thecomet.net/news/new_lifts_open_at_hitchin_railway_station_1_3759516
  15. ^ "Thameslink timetables". Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  16. ^ Timetable consultation : Southern
  17. ^ Proposed Thameslink service pattern
  18. ^ "APPENDIX 2: Issues in defining and measuring railway capacity" (PDF). Office of Rail Regulation. 13 February 2006. p. 2. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  19. ^ "Hitchin flyover". Network Rail. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  20. ^ http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/infrastructure/single-view/view/hitchin-flyover-opens.html

External links

  • Train times and station information for Hitchin railway station from National Rail
  • Hitchin: Here we explain our plans to improve the rail links between London, Hitchin and Cambridge on Network Rail website

Coordinates: 51°57′11″N 0°15′47″W / 51.953°N 0.263°W / 51.953; -0.263

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