Trivia: stations that were always too big for their traffic

S&CLER

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Two recent threads on stations reduced to halts and stations with excursion platforms made me wonder how many stations can be said to have been too big for their traffic. One very near me, Southport Lord Street, only had 19 arrivals per day in 1910, yet had 4 full-length platforms and a half-length bay, with a footbridge (intended for use by passengers transferring from the West Lancs. line from Preston, if it had come in along the sea front, as once planned). I never saw Leicester Belgrave Road, but from what I've read it seems to have been another case of over-optimistic provision. How many platforms did it have? And how big were Hull Cannon Street (H&B), the M&GN terminus in Norwich, Chester Northgate, Nottingham London Road, the LSW terminus in Plymouth and the various small termini in Swansea?
 
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Snow1964

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The LSWR Meon Valley Line (Alton - Knowle near Fareham) was built with 600 feet (183m) platforms, many stations were double track even though they served a few hamlets

Stations were larger than many of the busy LSWR suburban stations
 

CarltonA

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Micheldever comes to mind, I think there was due to be a large development there which never materialised. Taplow as well, have forgotten the reason they got main line platforms when nearby the more popular Burnham (Beeches) had to contend with an island on the reliefs only.
 
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Plymouth Friary, the LSW terminus with two main platforms and two bays was, to be fair, busy in its heyday. It had a frequent suburban service on the Turnchapel branch, main-line services for Waterloo, Portsmouth / Brighton and locals to Tavistock. Devonport King's Road on the other hand, the original LSW terminus and converted for through running with the opening of the independent line, was always rather grand for the traffic on offer, with a handsome station building and train-shed.
 

30907

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Horsted Keynes comes immediately to mind - the LBSC was pretty generous with its country station buildings, but didn't often add excess platforms. Christ's Hospital perhaps, though the school traffic may have skewed things.
Allhallows is the only other SR station I can think of, 2 full-length platforms with maybe 3-4 coach trains on a busy weekend.
 

Romsey

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Remember that 100 years ago, fixed formation trains were very unusual outside intensive suburban networks.
There would be parcels and milk vans to attach and detach as well as horseboxes, the occasional hearse (Privs were available!), Special Cattle Vans and fish vans. Trains would be remarshalled to different lengths for different journeys and for stock balances. Attachments and attachments would be made en-route.
There would also be ECS shunts to release the train loco unless the platforms were equipped with run round facilities.
All this needed more platforms than you would expect plus stabling sidings and a loco service point.

Train services rarely followed a regular pattern and evolved over the preceding years to meet specific requests from customers or other parts of the railway. ( Think back to the GW timetable before HST's - it repeated the pattern once per day - if you were lucky.) Planning for through coaches across the network must have been a logistical nightmare.

One example of many hundreds out there in historic timetables. Before WW2 there were through coaches between Southampton and Newcastle on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to connect with a ferry from Le Harve. Not the way you would expect but the first stage of the journey was via the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line. There would be a similar southbound service via the DN&S. At the same time odd through coaches drifted in on through trains off the Midland and South Western Jn Railway from Cheltenham via Andover.

Instead of one through train ( or coach ) per day we have moved to the other extreme where minor traffic flows have to make connections. Which is why railways need to adopt the regular interval approach of service planning. (Takfahrplan) The GW mainline is fine at the moment. Give it a few years and odd extra stops will be added because an MP has complained and other stops removed as they gain little traffic and it's easier for pathing. If you want an examplr there are a few TOC's who started with a standard hour pattern service which has slowly degraded.....
 

yorksrob

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Bexhill West was always rather large for it's service with four platforms. I'm not sure whether the two uncovered platforms were ever used for passenger services.

Lydd-on-Sea and Greatstone-on-Sea were built for a rush of holiday camp traffic that never came - their platforms were very substantial - everything else less so.
 
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Taunton

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Perth still comes over as too large. The main route to Aberdeen was diverted via Dundee, through the platforms which though the busiest are something of an annex to one side, while the main part of the station under the grand overall roof was left with just Highland line trains, plus odd services terminating, and seems less used.
 

och aye

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Leith Central Station must be on the list. Such a huge station building for what was ultimately nothing more than glorified branch station. I read somewhere it was built at such a scale deliberately by the North British Railway in response to the Caledonian Railway building their Leith New Lines, line.
 

thenorthern

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Stafford currently seems too big for what calls there currently. It's a similar situation with Nuneaton I would say.

Crewe also springs to mind as it has a lot of bay platforms that are rarely used although pre-2008 the situation of platforms that weren't used was even worse.

Carlisle is similar in that it has more bay platforms than it needs in my opinion.
 

Glenn1969

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Halifax back in the day had 5/6 platforms and quite an extensive local network with 2 termini and Pellon , Hipperholme, Ovenden (where I live), Holmfield and Queensbury all having stations serving fairly small populations. These stations had already closed before Beeching though
 
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Mcr Warrior

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Carlisle is similar in that it has more bay platforms than it needs in my opinion.
Inclined to disagree in that whilst there are five bay platforms at Carlisle there are at least four services that regularly terminate there, i.e. from Newcastle (via Tyne Valley), from Leeds (via Settle), from Lancaster, Barrow and/or Whitehaven (via Cumbrian Coast) and from Glasgow Central (via Kilmarnock and Dumfries).

And may be in the future from Edinburgh again (via the Waverley line).
 
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bearhugger

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Inclined to disagree in that whilst there are five bay platforms at Carlisle there are at least four services that regularly terminate there, i.e. from Newcastle (via Tyne Valley), from Leeds (via Settle), from Lancaster, Barrow and/or Whitehaven (via Cumbrian Coast) and from Glasgow Central (via Kilmarnock and Dumfries).

And may be in the future from Edinburgh again (via the Waverley line).
And I would add that if the bays at Carlisle weren't in use for those terminators, it would add considerable work to the three through platforms, in terms of boarding / alighting passengers then shifting units to sidings waiting for their next service.
I think the layout of Carlisle is just about right for what usually goes on there. I don't think the Tyne Valley and Settle lines interfere with the mainline tracks.
 

BigB

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And I would add that if the bays at Carlisle weren't in use for those terminators, it would add considerable work to the three through platforms, in terms of boarding / alighting passengers then shifting units to sidings waiting for their next service.
I think the layout of Carlisle is just about right for what usually goes on there. I don't think the Tyne Valley and Settle lines interfere with the mainline tracks.
The majority of passengers alighting from the Tyne and Dumfries line trains go straight out of the station which reduces the traffic of those using the "intercity" platforms so benefits passenger flow as well as train movement.
When working out if stations are too big you also need to take into account stabling - capacity at a station to stable units reduces the movements in the morning and allows services to start on time. As bearhugger says, Carlisle appears just right on this count, as is evident is you pass through late at night.
 

Rail Ranger

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Fairfield for Droylsden had six platforms, two on the Fallowfield loop and four on the Great Central main line, the most platforms of any GC station (more than Marylebone which had four) in anticipation of the building of a racecourse adjacent to the station which never happened.
 

yorksrob

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Fairfield for Droylsden had six platforms, two on the Fallowfield loop and four on the Great Central main line, the most platforms of any GC station (more than Marylebone which had four) in anticipation of the building of a racecourse adjacent to the station which never happened.
Speaking of Marylebone, the frontage and concourse are substantially oversized for the station itself - built with a view to future expansion.
 

30907

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In the same vicinity, I wonder if Grain's long island platform was ever fully utilised !
I was going to mention Port Victoria.... :)
You are quite right about Bexhill West - my excuse is that I was only 6 when we visited (I can still visualise the wide expanses of Crowhurst, and remember we rode a Hastings trolleybus afterwards... BTW this makes me wonder if dad was into trolleybuses on the quiet, as well as steam trains).
 

thenorthern

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Skegness always seems like it's got too many platforms I know Platforms 2 and 7 are now effectively out of use still it doesn't seem like it even needs 4 platforms.
 

yorksrob

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I was going to mention Port Victoria.... :)
You are quite right about Bexhill West - my excuse is that I was only 6 when we visited (I can still visualise the wide expanses of Crowhurst, and remember we rode a Hastings trolleybus afterwards... BTW this makes me wonder if dad was into trolleybuses on the quiet, as well as steam trains).
Well, you did better than me with BW (by train anyway !).

Come to think of it, Crowhurst was rather grandiose for its population.
 

MarlowDonkey

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Taplow as well, have forgotten the reason they got main line platforms when nearby the more popular Burnham (Beeches) had to contend with an island on the reliefs only.
Until the HSTs in the 1970s, all the stations from Paddington to Reading had a platform on the down main as well as the island on the up main. the only exception being Burnham. Wiki says it wasn't opened until 1899, so a late Victorian addition.
 

Tetchytyke

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Carlisle is similar in that it has more bay platforms than it needs in my opinion
Not really. Whitehaven trains use 2, Newcastle use 5, Leeds use 6 and Dumfries use 7 and 8. It's pretty much bang on, though due to the timetables with lots of trains all at once the station does feel deserted during parts of the day.

I'd say Blackpool North was ludicrously oversized for what's needed now, though I think some of it has gone since the remodelling. But in its heyday it was different.

Perth always feels insanely oversized and I'm still surprised it didnt get pulled down in the 60s as so many other big stations were.
 

181

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Horsted Keynes comes immediately to mind - the LBSC was pretty generous with its country station buildings, but didn't often add excess platforms.
Micheldever comes to mind, I think there was due to be a large development there which never materialised.
I seem to remember hearing that the explanation at Horsted Keynes was similar.

Did Tilbury Ferry ever have traffic to match its size?
Possibly -- I think it used to be an ocean liner terminal.
 

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