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Didcot Parkway railway station

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Place  Didcot
Station code  DID
DfT category  B
Address  Didcot, United Kingdom
Number of platforms  5
Original company  Great Western Railway
Grid reference  SU525905
Managed by  Great Western Railway
2011/12  2.787 million
Opened  1841
Local authority  South Oxfordshire
Didcot Parkway railway station
Similar  Oxford railway station, Swindon railway station, Didcot Railway Centre, Bath Spa railway station, Reading railway station

Didcot Parkway is a railway station serving the town of Didcot in Oxfordshire, England. The station was opened as Didcot on 12 June 1844, and renamed Didcot Parkway on 29 July 1985 by British Rail to reflect its role as a park and ride railhead.

Contents

The station is served by local services operated by Great Western Railway from Reading to Didcot and Oxford, and by Main line services from London Paddington to Bristol and South Wales, but some of the main line services do not call at the station.

Just to the north of the station is the Didcot Railway Centre, which is accessed through the station. The centre is a comprehensive exhibition of original Great Western Railway rolling stock, with demonstration running tracks and including a reconstructed station named Didcot Halt.

History

The railway has run through Didcot since 1 June 1840, when the Great Western Railway extended its main line from Reading to Steventon. During this period a stagecoach transported passengers to Oxford from Steventon. A few weeks later the line was extended to Faringdon Road station near West Challow, and eventually to Bristol. On 12 June 1844 the line from Didcot to Oxford was opened and Didcot station was opened at the junction. The original intended route would have taken a line from Steventon to Oxford via Abingdon, but Abingdon's townspeople objected to this idea. Otherwise, it is unlikely that Didcot would have evolved into the town it is today, as its initial growth was prompted by the coming of the railway.

The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway linked Didcot with Newbury, carrying services to Southampton via Newbury, Highclere, Winchester and Eastleigh. In its latter years it was reduced to a rural backwater before its closure just before the Beeching Report. The DN&S Railway was closed to passengers on 10 September 1962 and to freight in 1967. At the eastern end of Platform 1, there is a raised section of the east Car Park, which used to be the bay platform for the DNSR Line.

On 7 December 1964, local passenger services between Didcot and Swindon were withdrawn and the stations at Steventon, Wantage Road, Challow, Uffington, Shrivenham and Stratton Park were closed.

A new 600-space car park was built on the site of the former provender store to the west of the station. At the same time, a new main building was constructed. These were opened on 29 July 1985 by David Mitchell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, and on that date the station was renamed Didcot Parkway.

Platforms

The station is located just to the north of the town centre in Didcot. It can only be accessed by car from Station Road itself on the south side of the railway, although passengers may park in Foxhall Road Long Stay Car Park, situated on Basil Hill Road, and cross a footbridge to the station. The station entrance is at road level; all platforms may be accessed by lifts.

  • Platform 1 – for Down (westbound) Great Western Railway HST services to Swindon, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa, Chippenham, Cardiff Central and Swansea. Very limited service to Exeter St Davids, Plymouth and Penzance as most of these services bypass Didcot and travel via the Reading to Taunton line. A service to Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa also operates from this platform.
  • Platform 2 – for Up (eastbound) Great Western Railway HST services to London Paddington.
  • Platform 3 – for Down (northbound) Great Western Railway local services to Oxford, with a few weekend (typically Sunday) and early morning weekday services extending to the Cotswold Line. Also used by some HST services to Oxford and Hereford.
  • Platform 4 – for Up Great Western Railway local trains to Reading and London Paddington, sometimes used for Down services to Oxford when platform 3 is unavailable.
  • Platform 5 – is used for Up Great Western Railway local services when platform 4 is unavailable.
  • Junctions and yards

    Didcot is a junction between the Great Western Main Line and the route to Oxford and the Midlands. A marshalling yard is opposite platform 5 and another was once provided at Moreton, a little to the east. Moreton is still a junction, allowing trains to pass between the main lines on the south, and the relief and Oxford lines on the north. An avoiding line runs from Didcot East Junction, behind the marshalling yard and the Didcot Railway Centre, allowing trains to Oxford to run through without blocking the station platforms. There also used to be another line at the East Junction which led to Newbury on the Former Didcot Newbury and Southampton Railway. The track was lifted in 1967.

    The junction at the west end of the station which is accessible from platforms 3, 4, and 5 (the Oxford bound platforms) is known as Chester Line Junction. This is so called because that was as far at the Great Western Railway could take you from here.

    West of the station is Foxhall Junction which allows freight trains from Oxford to travel towards Swindon. Immediately beyond this two goods lines diverge on the north side of the line. The first served a loop for Merry-go-round trains that used to deliver coal to Didcot Power Station. The second serves the Milton Freight Terminal, though this line is not in regular use (NIRU). Beyond this the four main and relief lines merge into three at Foxhall Junction and after a small loop just before Steventon, the four lines pass under the A34 and become two lines as far as the old station at Wantage Road.

    Improvement programme 2012

    An improvement programme for the forecourt of the station began in September 2012 and ran for two years. Key features include:

  • Larger taxi rank with covered waiting area
  • Dedicated drop-off and pick-up area
  • Short-stay waiting bays
  • Disabled parking with step-free access
  • Secure cycle parking and motorcycle parking
  • Pedestrian piazza with seating and a glazed atrium and walkways
  • Extra bus stops with electronic real-time information
  • An improved East Car Park
  • Better security with CCTV and new lighting
  • New drainage to alleviate flooding
  • Completion of a cycle route serving the station
  • Services

    Didcot is a major junction, where the (Great Western Railway-built) line to Oxford, Birmingham New Street and further north leaves the Great Western Main Line to Bristol Temple Meads via Swindon, Chippenham and Bath Spa also to Swansea via Bristol Parkway and Cardiff Central. There is no local service west of Didcot, so local service is exclusively provided by local trains taking the line to Oxford. However, a proportion of the Main line services to Bristol and South Wales do stop here, with the remainder passing through the station non-stop. Fast trains to and from the Oxford line can avoid the station using the Didcot East curve, and generally do not stop at Didcot.

    A few trains, generally early morning weekday and Sunday services, call at Didcot for the Cotswold Line to Hereford. Infrequently trains to Weston-super-Mare and further south-west call at this station.

    CrossCountry services generally do not stop at Didcot, and avoid the station by using the Didcot East curve to and from the Oxford line. There are at present no scheduled passenger services which use the West Curve to avoid the station on direct services from Oxford to Swindon.

    Accidents and incidents

  • On 13 February 1861, a passenger train ran into the rear of a freight train at Didcot Junction. The guard of the freight had failed to adequately protect the rear of his train.
  • On 26 September 1873, a freight train was derailed whilst being shunted to allow a passenger train to pass.
  • On 6 January 1932, a milk train and a freight train collided at Didcot East. The locomotive of the milk train was derailed and six tankers were slightly damaged. Ten wagons of the freight were wrecked and seventeen more were damaged. The milk train had overrun a danger signal.
  • On 14 August 1964, LMS Stanier Class 8F locomotive 48734 collided with a train of tank wagons at Didcot North Junction. Eleven of them were derailed and caught fire. The locomotive was severely damaged by the fire and was consequently scrapped.
  • On 1 January 1966, a freight train was derailed.
  • On 3 February 2007, a passenger train caught fire. All 400 passengers were evacuated.
  • References

    Didcot Parkway railway station Wikipedia


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