Milton Keynes Central railway station
|Location||302 Elder Gate, |
Milton Keynes, MK9 1LA
|Owned by||Network Rail|
|Managed by||London Northwestern Railway|
|Line(s)||West Coast Main Line|
|Platforms||7 (numbered 1–2, 2A, 3–6)|
|Classification||DfT category B|
|Original company||British Rail|
|17 May 1982||Opened|
|29 December 2008||Platforms 2A and 6 added|
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road
Milton Keynes Central railway station serves Central Milton Keynes and the surrounding area of Milton Keynes, England. The station is located on the West Coast Main Line about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of London. The station is served by Avanti West Coast intercity services, and by West Midlands Trains regional services.
This station is Milton Keynes's primary station, and is one of seven serving the Milton Keynes urban area.[a] Milton Keynes Central, which opened on 17 May 1982, is by far the busiest and most important of these, as well as being the largest in terms of platforms in use, having overtaken Bletchley when platforms 2A and 6 became operational.
History and development
A new station for Milton Keynes
A new station to delimit the western end of the new central business district of Milton Keynes was a key objective for Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC). In the cash-strapped circumstances of the 1960s and 1970s, British Rail (BR) was unenthusiastic but eventually came round after a deal was done in 1978 on cost sharing. In 1979, MKDC architect Stuart Mosscrop designed the station building and office blocks to either side, framing a new Station Square and the vista uphill along Midsummer Boulevard (and the midsummer sunrise).
The station opened on 14 May 1982, with an official opening by Charles, Prince of Wales conducted three days later. The adjacent office wings were completed three years later. Before Milton Keynes Central opened, Bletchley was the main station for Milton Keynes, served by British Rail InterCity services. These services moved to the new station, downgrading Bletchley.
In May 2006, the Department of Transport announced a plan to upgrade the station. The first phase added a down fast line platform 6, so that the existing platform 5 could be used for stopping express trains in either direction. The second phase provided an additional terminating bay platform (2A), nominally to extend the Marston Vale Line Bedford/Bletchley service via the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Milton Keynes Central. This 5-car bay platform is indented into platform 1. The original bay platform 1 line was extended northwards to become a through platform (becoming the up slow line), and platform 2 line is now a terminating and reversing line, avoiding conflicting crossing movements. This work was completed on 29 December 2008. As of November 2021[update], a direct service between Bedford and Milton Keynes Central is not in any published plan, being overtaken by later events (see next).
Platforms and layout
Milton Keynes Central has a total of seven platforms. Platforms 1 and 3 are the south and northbound slow platforms, while 4 and 6 are the south and northbound fast platforms. Platforms 2 and 5 are reversible, being slow and fast respectively. Platform 2 is used mainly by terminating stopping services from London Euston, whilst platforms 1 and 3 are used by West Midlands Trains services between Euston and Northampton, Birmingham New Street or Crewe. Platforms 4, 5 and 6 are used by Avanti West Coast inter-city express services between London and the West Midlands, north Wales, the north-west or Scotland.
Platform 2A is a five-car south-facing bay platform, originally intended for the extension of Marston Vale Line services from Bedford into Milton Keynes Central: this proposal no longer appears in plans for East West Rail, being replaced by a planned service to/from Oxford or Aylesbury (see below). Meanwhile, platform 2A is used only by exception when additional platform capacity is needed, such as when there is a service delay. To the north of the station the six lines reduce to four (two slow and two fast) and there is a mile of five-track running to the south before this also reduces back to four.
The station is generally accessible: there are no unavoidable steps and there are lifts from the concourse to each platform. As with all mainline railway stations, passengers with mobility limitations may need to pre-book assistance to get from the platform to the train. Ticket gates are in operation.
Local facilities and interchange
The station building has a shop and café. There are other shops and restaurants on the south side of the station square. There are a number of hotels on Midsummer Boulevard (which begins opposite the station and leads up into the central business district).
The station forecourt is the terminus or key intermediate destination for many bus services; almost all local and district bus services stop there. These services are operated mostly by Arriva Shires & Essex as well as some routes by Stagecoach East and a number of independent operators. Numerous bus services each hour traverse Midsummer Boulevard, connecting the station to the shopping centre, the theatre and Xscape.
Stagecoach East operate four major long-distance coach routes from here. Their route 99 express service runs to Luton Airport via Luton railway station, providing a direct link between the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line. Route X5 route between Oxford and Cambridge stops here, as do their X4 and X7 interurban bus routes to Northampton, Leicester and Peterborough. Arriva Shires & Essex also operate route X60 to Aylesbury, which terminates at the station. However, National Express services run from the Milton Keynes Coachway, about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) away, served from this station by the 300 bus or the X5.
Also in the station forecourt, there is a taxi rank (to the left on exit) and a pick-up space for private hire cars (to the right), plus limited (very) short term parking. There are multi-storey car-parks to the north and south of the station. Parking in the surrounding streets is heavily restricted to discourage commuter parking.
The station square itself is a favourite site for skateboarding and freestyle BMX and as a result the granite facings of the planting surrounds have suffered from the continuous bumping and grinding. This has lessened somewhat since the opening of a dedicated skateboarding park (Sk8 MK) close to the former central bus station.
London Northwestern Railway
Milton Keynes Central is a principal start and terminus for London Northwestern Railway (LNR) services to/from London Euston, and a major stop on others terminating/initiating at Northampton, Crewe or Birmingham New Street. During off-peak daytime hours, LNR operate five departures per hour to Euston, two trains per hour to Birmingham New Street (via Northampton), one train per hour to Crewe, and one train per hour that terminates at Northampton. There are additional LNR services during the rush hour.
Avanti West Coast
Many Avanti West Coast inter-city services call here, with three calls an hour in each direction off-peak on weekdays. Southbound services are to London Euston, northbound services are to Blackpool North and Edinburgh via Birmingham New Street, to Manchester Piccadilly and to Chester (with certain trains extending to Bangor and Holyhead for ferry connections to Dún Laoghaire Harbour or to Dublin Port). Additional services operate in the morning peak and evening peaks to and from Liverpool Lime Street, Preston, Glasgow Central (via the Trent Valley Line), Wolverhampton and other destinations.
East West Rail
From 2025, services are planned to operate (over a rebuilt Varsity line) to Oxford via Bletchley, calling at Winslow and Bicester Village. A desire to extend services to Cambridge and beyond remains unfulfilled because it depends on building a new alignment eastwards between Bedford and Cambridge: a preferred route has been chosen but (as of December 2021[update]) awaits approval. In October 2019, the Department for Transport ruled out an early proposal to establish a service to London Marylebone via Claydon Junction, Aylesbury and High Wycombe.
Connex South Central
In June 1997, Connex South Central began operating services between Gatwick Airport and Rugby via the Brighton and West London Lines that called at Milton Keynes Central with Class 319s. It was cut back to terminate at Milton Keynes in December 2000 before being withdrawn in May 2002 due to capacity constraints on the West Coast Main Line while the latter was being upgraded.
Southern reintroduced the service in February 2009 with Class 377s initially operating to and from Brighton to Milton Keynes Central, before being curtailed at its southern end at South Croydon and later Clapham Junction. In May 2022, Southern cut its service back to terminate at Watford Junction, where passengers may transfer to Avanti West Coast or London Northwestern services to stations in Milton Keynes.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
|London Northwestern Railway
WCML London Commuter Services
|Rugby||London Northwestern Railway
WCML Crewe – London
|Wolverton||London Northwestern Railway
WCML Birmingham – London
|Coventry||Avanti West Coast
WCML Glasgow/Edinburgh – London
|Crewe||Avanti West Coast
WCML North Wales – London
|Stoke-on-Trent||Avanti West Coast
WCML Manchester/Liverpool – London
|Terminus||East West Rail
Milton Keynes Central – Oxford and Reading
|Terminus||East West Rail
Milton Keynes Central – Aylesbury
Milton Keynes Central – South Croydon
Stations in and around Milton Keynes
The station is at the western end of Central Milton Keynes, near the junction of the A5 with the A509. The station post-code is MK9 1LA. In the chainage notation traditionally used on the railway, its location on the line is 49 miles 65 chains (49.81 mi; 80.17 km) from Euston.
The station and its plaza were used in the 1987 movie Superman IV: The Quest for Peace as a substitute for the United Nations building. Other scenes were shot in the Central Milton Keynes area.
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- South Central to launch Rugby-Gatwick service Rail issue 305 21 May 1997 page 10
- Connex Makes a Rugby Connection Rail Express issue 15 August 1997 page 7
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- Changes to National Rail Timetable National Rail 15 May 2022
- "Engineer's Line References: London Euston to Crewe Line | London Euston to Rugby Trent Valley Junction". RailwayCodes.org. 18 October 2019.
- "Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)". movie-locations.com.
- "Superman IV (1987)". british-film-locations.com.
- Train times and station information for Milton Keynes Central railway station from National Rail
- Pendolino rounds Wolverton bend before coming to a stop at Milton Keynes Central