Newbury railway station is a railway station in the centre of Newbury, Berkshire, England. It is served by stopping services operated by Great Western Railway from Reading to Newbury and Bedwyn, and by many of its services from London Paddington to Exeter and other parts of Devon and Cornwall — most of those via Taunton — rather than Bristol or London Waterloo via Basingstoke and Salisbury. The station was once a junction with the now-defunct north-south Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway. It was also the junction for the also defunct Lambourn Valley Railway.
Newbury station was opened on 21 December 1847 as part of the Berks and Hants Railway from Reading, Berkshire to Hungerford. Newbury was an important junction on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway (DN&SR), the first section of which opened between Didcot and Newbury in 1881. The route to Winchester was then opened in 1885 but it was not until 1891 that a route to Southampton was completed. However, the route did not include the planned independent Southampton terminus and instead used the terminus owned by the London and South Western Railway.
In 1898 the Lambourn Valley Railway (LVR) was opened which ran from the west of the station to Lambourn, north-west of Newbury. Trains to Lambourn started from the bay on the north platform at its western end.
By 1890 Newbury was an important station and junction. There were two lines through the station covered by an overall roof, plus a footbridge, turntable, goods yard and two bay platforms. However, the expansion of the DN&SR and the later opening of the LVR created a bottleneck in Newbury, especially for express trains on the Reading to Plymouth line.
Between 1908 and 1910 the station was rebuilt to extend the platforms and create two loops to ensure trains stopping at the station did not block the line for express and freight trains. Red brick was used for the new station buildings which are still in use today. A new footbridge was built across the station.
The expansion also included the building of two signal boxes, one at each end of the station. It was possible to hear the bells in these boxes ringing from a point mid-way along the main platforms. Access to the yard became possible from the Down and Up through lines and the main Up (north) platform.
The 1960s saw the closure of both the DN&SR and the LVR due to declining passenger and freight traffic on both lines. Regular local services southwards to Winchester ended in March 1960 and those northwards to Didcot in September 1962. The last passenger train to use the DN&SR ran in May 1964, a rerouted express train resulting from a derailment at Reading West. The tracks were lifted in 1967.
British Railways (BR) withdrew LVR passenger services on 4 January 1960 but freight services continued to serve RAF Welford into the 1970s. When the United States Air Force decided it no longer needed to use the rail link it handed control back to BR in 1973. One last passenger special operated on the line in November of that year before the line was totally closed and the track later lifted.
As a result of the closure of the LVR the bay platform on the north side at the western end of the station was no longer needed and the track was removed. The bay on the south side remained in use into the 1970s for recessing local trains to Bedwyn until a "down" express had passed. The south bay was later removed when the station was resignalled and the track layout altered to allow down expresses to serve the north side platform. Both west end bays are now car parks. The sole east end bay on the north side of the line is maintained for use for eastbound passenger services starting at Newbury. Locally it is still called "the Compton bay" because of its original purpose on the DN&SR.
The station was part of the Great Western Railway until Britain's railways were nationalised in 1948. After the sectorisation of British Rail in 1982 the station became part of Network South East and was also a stop on the InterCity network. From 1996 services were provided by Thames Trains and later First Great Western Link.
The current station has two through platforms, both on loops off the main line, leaving two through tracks running through the middle of the station. There is also a bay platform on the north east side for short trains to and from Reading. These parts of the station layout have all survived from the expansion of the station in 1908. The platform access was converted to entry by ticket through automatic barriers early in 2013.
The north (Up) platform has provision for trains to call in either direction. This facility is not frequently used in the current timetable except during periods of severe line congestion to avoid delays, however, it was not uncommon for Down trains to call on this platform in the past. The signalling also allows for the station to continue operating when the south (Down) platform is closed for any reason.
To the east of the station there is a siding on the Up line. It is still commonly used for storing engineering units. Local services sometimes use it to allow passengers wishing to travel to intervening stations to connect from inter-city services.
Also to the east of the station, on the Down line is a loop which also runs through Newbury Racecourse railway station which is used regularly as a passing point by freight trains and also by local services in the same way as the sidings on the north side. This loop is also used by local services calling at Newbury Racecourse during race days. Special chartered trains hauled by steam locomotives often use the loop to take on water because it has good road access although the Down platform in Newbury station can also be used for this purpose. All trains that pass through the loop must continue through the loop for the Down platform to rejoin the mainline.
The station is now signalled with colour light signals controlled from Thames Valley Signalling Centre in Didcot.
Newbury station is operated by Great Western Railway. The station's facilities include a staffed ticket office open on weekdays and weekends; car parks on both sides of the station; covered bicycle storage; taxi rank; toilets and a shop on Platform 2 and waiting rooms on both main platforms.
Some of the station buildings are now let as office space.
The nearest main buildings are the offices of West Berkshire Council and the bus station — buses leaving from the entrance to the south platform include one to the Vodafone headquarters.
In 2018 Newbury is scheduled become the western limit of electrification from Reading, as part of the Great Western electrification scheme.
Great Western Railway operate an hourly (Mon-Sat) semi-fast regional service between London Paddington and Bedwyn that calls here, along with a local stopping service to/from Reading (also hourly) calling at all intermediate stations. In the early morning & mid/late evening, these are combined into a single Reading to Bedwyn service.
Additional long-distance services run to Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St Davids, Frome, Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance. Most of these services run in the evening, though there are also a number of daytime workings.