Derby railway station

"Derby station" redirects here. For the station in Derby, Connecticut, see Derby-Shelton (Metro-North station).
Derby National Rail

Derby railway station
Place Derby
Local authority City of Derby
Grid reference SK362355
Station code DBY
Managed by East Midlands Trains
Number of platforms 6
DfT category B
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2010/11 Increase 3.260 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.460 million
2011/12 Increase 3.357 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.550 million
2012/13 Increase 3.366 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.566 million
2013/14 Increase 3.498 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.766 million
2014/15 Increase 3.654 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.771 million
Original company Midland Counties Railway
Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway
North Midland Railway
Pre-grouping Midland Railway
Post-grouping London, Midland and Scottish Railway
4 June 1839 MCR temporary station opened
12 August 1839 B&DJR temporary station opened
11 May 1840 NMR permanent station opened as Derby; NCR and B&DJR stations closed
1858 Extended
1871 Extended
25 September 1950 Renamed Derby Midland
1952 Partially rebuilt
6 May 1968 Renamed Derby
1985 Partially rebuilt
2005–2009 Major renovations
National Rail – UK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Derby from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Derby railway station i/ˈdɑːrbi/, also known as Derby Midland Station, is a main line station serving the city of Derby in England. Owned by Network Rail and managed by East Midlands Trains, the station is also used by CrossCountry services and one daily Northern service.[1] It is situated to the south-east of Derby city centre, and is close to the west bank of the River Derwent.


The decision by the Midland Railway to have their headquarters in Derby, with its central location made it a busy node of the rail network. First opened in 1839, it was at the time one of the largest in the country and was unusual for being shared by more than one company. Until recently, major carriage and locomotive workshops as well as the Research Division in the Railway Technical Centre were housed there.

The station is an interchange point between the Midland Main Line from London St Pancras to Leeds and long-distance services on the Cross-Country route from Aberdeen through Birmingham New Street to Penzance or Bournemouth (the zero milepost on the latter route is at the south end of platform 1). Until the mid twentieth century, the station was also served by through trains from Manchester and Glasgow to London.

Local services from Nottingham to Matlock along the Derwent Valley Line serve the station as well as local and semi-fast services to Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Birmingham and Cardiff Central.

Derby station has six platforms (all but Platform 5 are through platforms) connected by a footbridge, which is used as an exit to Pride Park and a car park.


Early East Midlands railway schemes

After the building of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825, a number of ambitious projects for long-distance lines between cities had been mooted. Among these was a line between London and Edinburgh, for both goods and passengers, via Bedford and Leeds, passing in between Carlisle and Newcastle.

Meanwhile, a number of short lines were built for specific purposes. Among these were the Mansfield and Pinxton and the Leicester and Swannington. The Mansfield and Pinxton was a feeder for a canal and was a wagonway, but these short lines were pivotal in later events. Possibly the longest was the Cromford and High Peak Railway, opened in 1833, to connect the Cromford Canal with the Peak Forest Canal. It attracted interest because it provided access to Manchester through the Peak District of Derbyshire, even today an obstacle to transport.

In the 1830s, lines were already in progress between Bristol and London and from each to Birmingham and thence to Liverpool and Manchester, and their promoters were looking ahead. Three schemes came to the fore for the East Midlands. The Grand Junction Railroad would connect Birmingham with Sheffield and Derby, with a branch to Nottingham and another branch from Sheffield to Manchester. There would also be a line to the East Coast at Goole. In 1824 the London Northern Railroad Company was formed to link Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Hull and Manchester with London. Two options were proposed. One would branch at Loughborough, with branches for Nottingham and Derby, and proceeding to Manchester by the Cromford and High Peak Railway. The other option would pass through Northampton, with a branch to Birmingham, go on to Derby, with a branch to Nottingham, and thence to the Cromford and High Peak. The Grand Midland Railway was a proposal to branch from the London to Birmingham railway, already under consideration, at Northampton, and bring it through Leicester, Loughborough and Derby to the Cromford and High Peak.

Towards the end of the 1820s, however, the economic climate of the country had deteriorated, and many investors were waiting to see how the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway would succeed. Moreover, not everyone shared the dream. For most people the canals were adequate for the carriage of goods, while few travelled very far. Most people lived their lives within a few miles of their birthplace. The later story of the railways was a classic one of a product generating a demand, rather than the other way around. Thus, what investment that was forthcoming was for ventures for which a need could be clearly perceived, with a reasonable expectation of a good, and rapid, return. Although the surveys were useful in the planning of later lines, the three were never built.[2]

Derby investors, naturally, favoured the scheme by the Grand Junction Railway to connect to the Cromford and High Peak Railway and Manchester, through Derby (at what was to be called the Grand Central Station), since the London and Northern would pass through Sandiacre, some ten miles away. In the event, neither line was built. In addition, the Cromford and High Peak Railway was not ideally suited to passenger working, and an alternative via Bakewell and Chapel-en-le-Frith would encounter very difficult terrain. (Manchester was not, in fact, reached until later in the century by the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway and its extensions.)

Three railways

The Midland Counties Railway was originally proposed to connect the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway to Leicester to supply coal. However, supplies provided by the canal network and the River Trent to Nottingham, meant that few people were willing to invest.[3]

Provision of coal supplies to Derby were via the Derby Canal but this had not been a resounding success. People in Derby were supportive of any scheme which would bring a railway to the town.

George Hudson encouraged the building of North Midland Railway, later becoming its chairman. Meanwhile, financiers in Birmingham, including G.C.Glyn, a banker and chairman of the London and Birmingham Railway, were looking to expand their system. The Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway would it give a link from Yorkshire to London, with access to the coalfields.

The promoters of the Midland Counties Railway suggested a line linking Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, with an extension to Rugby for London. Their original plan in 1833 had been to bring their line to Derby at Darby's Yard and Exeter Gardens, at the east side of the present Market Place, with a bridge over the Derwent. Following Vignoles's reassessment in 1835 a new route was proposed, either north or south of the Derby Canal to a terminus near St. Mary's Bridge with a branch to Full Street near to John Lombe's Silk Mill. Both options would cross the North Midland lines north of the other station.[4]

The North Midland planned to build their station near Nottingham Road, avoiding a river bridge, while the Birmingham and Derby planned to build theirs nearby. They realised the value of a link with the North Midland, and decided to bridge the river and share its station. In 1836 the Town Council suggested a single station for all three companies and the Midland Counties agreed.

One site considered was an island bounded by the River Derwent and the canal, called The Holmes, now Bass's Recreation Ground. The space was restricted and susceptible to flooding, and the trackwork would be complicated. The selected site was further south on the west bank, Borough's Fields, in Litchurch, at the southern side of the Castlefields estate.[5] It was a mile from the town, but the Council built a carriageway to the town centre, along Siddals Lane, now Siddals Road. The station was built by the North Midland, with the other two companies renting spaces. The whole arrangement was confirmed by the North Midland Railway Act of 1839.

The Tri Junct Station

Derby Station
North Midland Railway

Although some sources refer to it as the 'Tripartite Station'.[6] it became known as the 'Tri Junct Station',[4][7] It was 1,050 ft (320 m) long with one through platform plus a north and a south bay, the main platform and bays connected to seven stabling roads by a series of carriage turntables (rolling-stock was moved around the station by hand). These platform and stabling roads were all beneath a three-bay train shed.[8]

Whishaw[9] described it thus: "The admirably contrived and elegant roofs, the spacious, the great length of the whole erection extending to upwards of a thousand feet. All unite in rendering it the most complete structure of the kind in the United Kingdom or perhaps the world."

Sketch diagram showing platform arrangement when first opened

The platform was in three parts with the centre section built forward as in the diagram, which allowed trains some freedom of movement.[10] With one platform for passengers to board and alight, it was not necessary for them to cross running lines when changing trains. The station offices were also partitioned into three sections, each line having its own facilities.

Fronting this was a magnificent two-storey stone building designed by Francis Thompson. The North Midland also built a cluster of workers' houses of which the present Midland Terrace remains preserved as a conservation area.

At each end was a hotel. The Midland Hotel, for first class passengers, is said to be the first provincial railway hotel following on after that at Euston in London.[7] The Brunswick Inn was for second class passengers and railway workers. The saying went that patrons of the first chatted about hunting and shooting, of the other, shunting and hooting.[5]

The first public departure from a temporary platform was on 4 June 1839[11] when a Midland Counties train ran to Nottingham. (the inaugural run having taken place from Nottingham on the 30th)[12] The first train to Birmingham departed on 12 August in the same year, from another temporary platform further south. The Tri Junct Station finally opened when the North Midland line was completed to Rotherham Masborough on 11 May 1840, reaching Leeds seven weeks later. The station's official name was Derby Station.[11]

Midland Railway

The Midland Railway's coat of arms at the station's entrance
The Victorian frontage to the station by Charles Trubshaw.

In 1844 all three railways amalgamated to become the Midland Railway, with headquarters at Derby station. Joseph Paxton, a director of the railway, produced his first sketch for the Crystal Palace during a board meeting there.[7] The North Midland repair shop and two locomotive sheds formed the Midland's main locomotive works.

In 1846 a north facing spur (Derby North Junction) was added from the Midland Counties line. In 1867 a loop was added to the south, allowing through running for trains from London. The original section was closed in 1969. The junction to the south is called London Road.

In 1858 the station was extended with extra offices, improved facilities and a porte-cochère for carriages, designed by John Holloway Saunders, the Midland Railway architect. An island platform, the present 2 and 3, was added which was accessed via a level crossing from platform 1.

In 1881 platforms 4 to 6 (Platform 5 being a bay to the south) were added, being 850 feet (260 m) long and 45 feet (14 m) wide. The level crossing which gave access from platform 1 to platform 2 was removed and access provided by a new footbridge 16 feet (4.9 m) wide with staircases down to each platform. Platforms 2 and 3 were lengthened by about 350 feet (110 m) and new waiting rooms and refreshment rooms were provided, designed by the company architect John Holloway Sanders. A subway was installed to allow better transfer of luggage between platforms with hydraulic lifts to raise and lower luggage.[13] The turntables were removed and replaced by scissors crossovers, the whole complex controlled by a signal box on the centre platform.[7]

The frontage and offices were rebuilt around 1892 to designs by the architect of the Midland Railway, Charles Trubshaw.

The station and railway workshops adjoining it were the target of a Zeppelin bombing raid during World War I, in 1916, though only slight damage was inflicted.

London, Midland and Scottish Railway

The 'main line' on which Derby station sat was that from London to Manchester, carrying named expresses such as the 'Palatine' and the 'Peaks', while trains to Leeds and Scotland tended to use the Erewash Valley Line and expresses to Edinburgh, such as The Waverley travelled through Corby and Nottingham. The line from Leeds was nevertheless busy with trains to the south west and Cornwall, and summer specials to Paignton and Torquay. It had a named express, the 'Devonian', which ran from Bradford to Bristol.

In World War II, on 15 January 1941, the station was attacked again, becoming one of the few locations in Derby to suffer significant bomb damage. The overall roof of the train shed and platform six were severely damaged, with the loss of most of the rest of the glass, although the Victorian frontage of the station survived.

British Railways

The station was renamed Derby Midland Station on 25 September 1950.[11] It was extensively rebuilt between 1952 and 1954 using pre-stressed concrete. The cost of the modernisation plan was £200,000[14] (equivalent to £5,190,000 in 2015).[15] The station signal box was also rebuilt, described by the staff as 'a cupboard under the stairs'.[16]

From 6 May 1968, the station was renamed Derby on timetables and platforms, though the full name of Derby Midland Station was retained on the station's main sign.[11] Even today, the fuller name is sometimes used, including on the modern main sign (erected 1985) and on the station's electronic departures board.

Derby station excluding goods roads and sidings, showing provision for bidirectional working for any platform

With the advent of power signalling in 1969, the signal box and the crossovers disappeared, and the tracks approaching the station were relaid to allow trains from any direction to enter or leave any platform. The original Midland Counties Railway route from the north end of the station to Spondon Junction via Chaddesden sidings was closed as part of this work (trains travelling between Nottingham & stations towards Birmingham must now reverse at the station).

The Victorian station clock, now in the car park

Further work in 1985 saw the replacement of the ageing Victorian station entrance and booking hall. The entrance's original clock was moved to the north end of the car park and the coats of arms of the Midland Railway and of the City of Derby was fixed to the new frontage. The decision to demolish the old building was a controversial one at the time.[17]


Upon the privatisation of British Rail, the station became owned by Railtrack and later Network Rail. Day-to-day operation was initially with Midland Mainline who refurbished it with the installation of a large electronic departure board in the station entrance hall and smaller boards on all platforms. The station is now managed by East Midlands Trains.

The station's departures board

In 2005, the footbridge connecting the platforms, which had been temporarily supported for at least 30 years, was replaced. Whilst doing this, engineers discovered that there were stresses in the concrete of the 1950s canopy. Work to demolish the canopies and erect new ones began in mid-2007 and was completed in October 2009.[18]

A £15m signalling centre, the Derby Rail Operating Centre,[19] (formerly known as East Midlands Control Centre), was opened immediately south of the station on 3 April 2008. This replaced the 1960s era panel boxes here and at Trent Junction (near Nottingham), plus the 1986 one at Leicester and various small manual & panel boxes elsewhere in the area. When fully complete, it will be one of 12 and supervise over 350 route miles of railway.[20]


On 14 February 2001, Derby City Council, Midland Main Line and Railtrack agreed a £1,736,000-scheme to connect Derby Midland station to the Pride Park development.[21]:2 Derby City Council provided £270,000 to extend the station footbridge to reach Pride Park and the car park.[22]:2 Railtrack and Midland Main Line entered into a Covenant With Regard to the Footbridge, that the non-travelling public are free to cross during station hours[21]:13[22]:3 with exceptions for Christmas Day and Boxing day, and a proviso that the footbridge does not become a public right of way.[21]:13

On 21 June 2007 Stagecoach Midland Rail Limited (later East Midlands Trains) took over the franchise.[23]:1 Under the franchise agreement East Midlands Trains was required to install automatic ticket gate lines at Derby station.[23]:87

On 3 April 2009 East Midlands Trains sought an amendment from Derby City Council to install gates to "reduce unauthorised use of trains and improve security".[22]:3 Derby City Council consented but required removal within 42 days should East Midlands Trains be found in non-compliance of the additional terms.[22]:3 Ticket barriers were introduced on 18 August 2009.[24][25] The barriers must be left open if they are not manned at both ends,[22]:14 and ad-hoc usage of the footbridge must be allowed at all other times.[22]:14

Pass Scheme

Before the start of barrier introduction, posters and a road show were held, introducing the Pass Scheme for footbridge users.[22]:9–10[24] The publicity resulted in over 800 pass requests in the first weeks before gating.[24] The pass scheme covers non-rail pedestrians and cyclists travelling "from Pride Park to central Derby or vice-versa".[22]:11–10 The agreement requires EMT to make application forms available online as well as at Derby station.[22]:11 Pass applications at the station are processed immediately, while all other applications are posted out within 48 hours.[22]:12–13 There is no administration charge for issuing or renewing of passes, with a charge of £5.00 allowed for replacing each lost pass.[22]:13 Passes not swiped at each endo of the bridge are revoked.[26][27] Derby City Council retains the right to audit withdrawn passes.[22]:13

Improvement works 2014–2017

As part of Derby's City Centre Eastern Fringes Area Action Plan, plans for new urban village development 'Castleward' suggest a complete overhaul of the rail station's frontage.[28] Plans also focus on a new pedestrian walkway and cycleway routed between the station and the city centre, featuring new retail, residential and commercial developments.[29]

The Midland Main Line electrification project—part of a wider electrification programme—will also involve remodelling the track and signalling at Derby: services approaching from the north will be segregated from those approaching from the south and west, thus removing the current bottleneck at the station.[30] The work is expected to be complete by December 2017.[30] A seventh platform will be built to the north of the current platforms, and this, along with the current platform 6, will be used solely by London–Sheffield services. CrossCountry services between Birmingham and Sheffield will use the southernmost platforms, with Nottingham–Birmingham trains reversing at the platforms in between.[31]


A Map of East Midlands Trains InterCity services showing the current service pattern each hour

As befits its status as a major main line junction, the station has regular & frequent services on all main routes. East Midlands Trains operates a twice-hourly service over the Midland Main Line southbound to London St Pancras International via Leicester and northbound to Sheffield, whilst CrossCountry runs long distance inter-regional trains to Newcastle & Edinburgh Waverley northbound and to Plymouth via Bristol Temple Meads and to Reading (both via Birmingham New Street) southbound. The Edinburgh to Plymouth route runs via Leeds, whilst the Newcastle to Reading trains operate via Doncaster and the Thames Valley line through Oxford. Certain Plymouth trains are extended to/from Penzance, whilst there are also limited through services to Aberdeen, Dundee, Bournemouth, Glasgow Central and Guildford. It also operates the Nottingham to Birmingham and Cardiff Central regional service.[32]

Other local routes are operated by EMT, with hourly frequencies on the Nottingham - Matlock Derwent Valley Line and the Derby - Crewe via Stoke-on-Trent lines.[33] Northern Rail also operates a single return service between Nottingham & Sheffield through here for route knowledge retention purposes (southbound early morning, returning north in the evening), although only the northbound service actually stops here.

Preceding station National Rail Following station
East Midlands Trains
Limited Service
Limited Service
East Midlands Trains
Crewe to Derby Line
Limited Service
Limited Service
East Midlands Trains
Single evening departure to Sheffield
Disused railways
TerminusRegional Railways
Duffield   Central Trains
Sinfin branch line


  2. Simmons, J., (1995 ppb ed) The Victorian Railways, London: Thames and Hudson
  3. Stevenson.P.S. (ed.), (1989). The Midland Counties Railway. Mold: Railway and Canal Historical Society,
  4. 1 2 Higginson, M, (1989) The Midland Counties Railway: A Pictorial Survey, Derby: Midland Railway Trust.
  5. 1 2 Heath, J. & Christian, R., (1985). Yesterday's Town: Derby. Buckingham: Barracuda Books,
  6. Board of Ordnance for the Local Board of Health (1852)Map of the Borough of Derby with portions of Darley, Litchurch and Little Chester, Reprinted 1980 Derbyshire Archaeological Society
  7. 1 2 3 4 Billson, P., (1996) Derby and the Midland Railway Derby: Breedon Books
  8. Pixton, B., (2000) North Midland: Portrait of a Famous Route, Cheltenham: Runpast Publishing
  9. Whishaw, F., (1840) The Railways of Great Britain and Ireland: Practically described and illustrated London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co.
  10. Huson, S., (2009) Derbyshire in the age of steam, Newbury: Countryside Books
  11. 1 2 3 4 Butt, R.V.J., (1995) The Directory of Railway Stations Yeovil: Patrick Stephens
  12. The Derby Mercury (Derby, England), Wednesday, 5 June 1839; Issue 5578
  13. "The improvements at the Midland Railway Station". Derby Daily Telegraph. British Newspaper Archive. 28 March 1881. Retrieved 12 July 2016 via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)).
  14. A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Vol 9. The East Midlands. Robin Leleux. ISBN 0 7153 7165 7
  15. UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  16. Harris, D., Signalling around Derby Station
  17. Marcus Binney,'Crunch time at Derby', Country Life, 8 Sep 1983, p.630
  18. "NETWORK RAIL INVESTS £18M TO REBUILD DERBY STATION". Network Rail. 19 November 2007.
  19. "Rail Control Centre is Unveiled". BBC. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  20. "Secretary of State opens new control centre"East Midland Train press release 03-04-2008; Retrieved 2014-01-22
  21. 1 2 3 Derby City Council; Railtrack PLC; Midland Main Line Limited (14 February 2001). Rees & Freres, ed. "Funding Agreement" (Contract). Relating to a footbridge and car park land at Derby Midland Railway Station. What Do They Know: 0–20. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Derby City Council; East Midland Trains (3 April 2009). Leslie, Stuart; Kelly, Jacob Henry, eds. "Agreement" (Amendment). Relating to the Gating of the footbridge at Derby Rail Station. What Do They Know. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  23. 1 2 Secretary of State for Transport; Stagecoach Midland Rail Limited (21 June 2007). Eversheds LLP, ed. "East Midlands Franchise Agreement" (PDF) (Third ed.). Department for Transport: 1–175. Archived from the original (2010 scanned copy) on 14 December 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
    Secretary of State for Transport; Stagecoach Midland Rail Limited (21 June 2007). Eversheds LLP, ed. "East Midlands Franchise Agreement" (2012 searchable copy) (Third ed.). Department for Transport: 1–175. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  24. 1 2 3 "Automatic ticket gates to go live at Derby station from 18 August". East Midlands Trains. 17 August 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  25. Morrison, Brian (10 February 2010). "Article". RAIL Magazine. No. 637. p. 58. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  26. "Barriers at station set to stop people dodging rail fares". Derby Telegraph. Derby. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  27. "Derby Gateline smartcard application" (Application form; Terms and conditions). Stakeholder information. East Midlands Trains. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  30. 1 2 "CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan" (PDF). Network Rail. Network Rail. June 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  31. Broadbent, Steve (19 February 2014). "Switching on the Electric Spine". RAIL. No. 742. pp. 69–75.
  32. GB National Rail Timetable 2016 Edition, Tables 51, 53 & 57 (Network Rail)
  33. GB National Rail Timetable 2016 Edition, Tables 50 & 56 (Network Rail)
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