Newcastle railway station

This article is about the main line station in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. For the Tyne & Wear Metro station, see Central Station Metro station. For other uses, see Newcastle railway station (disambiguation).
Newcastle National Rail
Newcastle Central Station

The main entrance
Place Newcastle City Centre
Local authority City of Newcastle upon Tyne
Coordinates 54°58′07″N 1°37′02″W / 54.9686°N 1.6171°W / 54.9686; -1.6171Coordinates: 54°58′07″N 1°37′02″W / 54.9686°N 1.6171°W / 54.9686; -1.6171
Grid reference NZ246638
Station code NCL
Managed by Virgin Trains East Coast
Number of platforms 12
DfT category A
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2010/11 Increase 7.500 million
2011/12 Increase 7.724 million
2012/13 Increase 7.808 million
2013/14 Increase 8.025 million
2014/15 Increase 8.053 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Tyne and Wear (Nexus)
Zone 1
Original company York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway/Newcastle and Carlisle Railway joint
Pre-grouping North Eastern Railway
Post-grouping London and North Eastern Railway
29 August 1850 Opened as Newcastle-on-Tyne Central
1890s Extended
after 1948 Renamed Newcastle
National Rail – UK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Newcastle from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Newcastle railway station (or Newcastle Central Station) is the principal main line railway station in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in Tyne and Wear, North East England. Opened in 1850, it is a Grade I listed building and is located in the city centre at the southern edge of Grainger Town and to the west of the Castle Keep. It is a nationally important transport hub, being both a terminus and through station serving the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh, the Durham Coast Line to Middlesbrough, and the Tyne Valley Line to Carlisle. It is also served by the adjoining Central Station on the Tyne and Wear Metro. As of June 2015, the station is managed by Virgin Trains East Coast.

All Virgin Trains East Coast services between London and Edinburgh stop at Newcastle, with extensions to Southbound destinations run to London Kings Cross, York and Leeds. CrossCountry supplements services to Scotland, and operates trains southbound to the South West and south coast via Birmingham and the wider Midlands; trains reach as far as Penzance and Southampton. The station is also a terminus for TransPennine Express, which connects Newcastle to Liverpool, via Leeds and Manchester, including some services to Manchester Airport.

Northern variously combines three routes out of Newcastle in order to provide both terminating and through services. To the west, trains connect the city to the MetroCentre, Hexham and Carlisle, with intermittent extensions to Whitehaven, and to the north, Cramlington and Morpeth on the East Coast Main Line, with extensions to Chathill. To the south east, the Durham Coast Line serves Sunderland, County Durham, and Teesside. Important stops include Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough, the line being shared with Tyne and Wear Metro services to Sunderland. In peak hours some services arrive from Teesside via the East Coast Main Line. Additionally, Northern and Abellio ScotRail jointly operate a limited service to Glasgow via Carlisle. There is furthermore pressure for the line to Ashington to reopen and be included in the next Northern franchise with regular services from Newcastle.[1]

The station is connected to Central Station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, which lies directly beneath the mainline concourse and is an interchange between the green and yellow lines, providing frequent services through central Newcastle to the Airport and Whitley Bay, and through Gateshead to South Shields and Sunderland. Together with many local bus routes, the complex is one of the most important transport hubs in the North East. There are currently two Metro and twelve mainline platforms accounting for 13 million passengers annually, and in lieu of increasing numbers the mainline station has undergone an £8.6 million refurbishment to increase retail space and enhance the station environment including the pedestrianisation of the portico.[2][3] Nexus also began to refurbish the Metro station in 2015.[4][5] Passengers numbers for the mainline station alone currently stand at just over 8 million.[6]

Construction and opening


A scheme for a central station was proposed by Richard Grainger and Thomas Sopwith in 1836[7] but was not built.

The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway had agreed to relinquish their insistence on exclusively using their Redheugh terminus on the south bank of the River Tyne. They agreed with George Hudson on a general station north of the Tyne, near the Spital. Instead of crossing the Tyne by a low level bridge and climbing to the Spital by a rope-worked incline, they would build an extension crossing at Scotswood and approaching on the north bank. They opened this line and a temporary station at Forth, and passenger trains started using that on 1 March 1847.[8]

Hudson, known as the "Railway King" was concentrating on connecting his portfolio of railways so as to join Edinburgh with the English network. His Newcastle and Berwick Railway obtained its authorising Act of Parliament in 1845, but for the time being it was to use the Newcastle and North Shields Railway's station at Carliol Square. Building a crossing of the Tyne was obviously going to be a lengthy process, so that he gave the construction of the general station a low priority. The Tyne crossing became the High Level Bridge.[9][10]

In February 1846 the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway exerted pressure for the general station to be built, and the architect John Dobson was appointed by Hudson to design it, in association with the engineer T E Harrison, and Robert Stephenson. By now the general alignment of Hudson's railways was becoming clear: a main line from the south via Gateshead would approach over the High Level Bridge and enter the general station from the east; the Newcastle and Berwick line would be extended from Carliol Square and also enter from the east; through trains from London to Scotland would reverse in the new station. Newcastle and Carlisle Railway trains would of course enter from the west.[9][10]

A definite design

Dobson produced general plans for the station, now being referred to as the Central station, on a broad curve to front Neville Street so as to accommodate the alignment of the approaching railways at east and west. It was to a "Romano-Italien design with ornamental work of the Doric order".[11] Two through platform lines were shown, with three west end bays and two at the east end. There were to be three trainshed roofs with spans of 60 feet. Extensive offices as well as refreshment facilities were shown, and there was to be a covered carriage drive on the Neville Street side extending from the porte-cochère at each end.

On 7 August 1847 a contract was let for the main part of the work to Mackay and Blackstock, for £92,000. A considerable amount of groundworks was necessary on the large site prior to the actual building work.[9]

The work did not progress speedily, and in 1849 Hudson's collection of railway companies suffered a financial shock. At a time of more difficult trading and a tighter money market, Hudson's personal dealings were exposed as shady. The York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway]] had been formed by merger of the previous smaller companies, and the YN&BR wished to reduce the financial commitment to the Central Station substantially; hotel accommodation and the covered carriage drive were eliminated. One of the through platforms was also removed from the plan.[9]

As built the site covered three acres and the length of the platform faces was 830 yards.[11]

Inaugurated by the Queen

The trainshed proved faster to construct and on 29 August 1850 Queen Victoria visited the station by train and formally opened it. The following day YN&BR trains were diverted into it.[note 1] The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway transferred its terminal facilities into the new station on 1 January 1851. At this period it was customary to have separate "arrival" and "departure" platforms for terminating trains. The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway used right-hand running, so that conveniently their west-facing departure platform was located against the station buildings, enabling booking and waiting rooms to be located directly adjacent to the departing trains.

The trainshed was, jointly with the Lime Street station in Liverpool, the first to be designed and built in Britain using curved wrought iron ribs to support an arched roof. The large section of the ribs was fabricated using curved web plates specially rolled using bevelled rolls; the novel technique was created by Thomas Charlton of Hawks Crawshay, and was estimated to have saved 14% on the cost of the roof ironwork, compared with cutting rectilinear plates to the curve.[9]

The station was lit by gas; a demonstration of electric arc-lighting was made, but was not at that date a practical possibility for the large station space. The platforms were positioned 15 inches above rail level.

In 1861 the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway had already merged with others to form the North Eastern Railway, and now it was desired to amalgamate with the Newcastle and Berwick Railway too. The Corporation of Newcastle used the opportunity of the necessary Parliamentary Bill for the amalgamation to insist on construction of the abandoned porte-cochère, and this was designed by Thomas Prosser and completed in 1863.[12]

Expansion of the station

In the 1860s the passenger train service was increasing considerably, especially as branch lines opened, and an additional through island platform was provided in 1871, occupying space formerly in use for stabling carriages. Increase in traffic continued, as also increasing train lengths and it was clear that a major extension of the station was essential. Newcastle had been given city status in 1882 and was supportive of the work, seeing it as a civic improvement. Forth Street was displaced southwards and two new trainshed roofs covered a southward extension of the station; in addition a large expansion to the east took place, with additional bay platforms there on the north side of the former bays. The original through track was blocked to form east and west bays, so that there were still only three through platform lines. This work was completed in 1894.[9]

The new group of bay platforms at the east end had their own concourse quadrangle, known at the time as the "Tynemouth Square". There was a separate booking hall for those local services. At this stage the roof covered seven and a half acres in area; there were fifteen platforms with a length of 3,000 yards.[11]

Puffing Billy

In 1901 an early steam locomotive was on display at the station; :

[The station] is further graced by a pedestal on which stands a curious old locomotive rejoicing in the name of "Billy". The true early history of "Billy" is well-nigh veiled in the mists of antiquity, and it was only by diligent enquiry that Mr Holliday, the Station Master, was able to learn a little of her antecedents. That "she" was constructed as far back as 1824 – 1826 is however certain, and on that score alone she is entitled to an introduction to such of the readers of the Railway Magazine as have until now been unaware of her existence. For about fifty-five years (until 1879) she performed good service, first at the Springwell, and latterly at the Killingworth colliery, from which place she actually steamed into Newcastle in 1881 to celebrate George Stephenson’s Centenary.[11]

An image of the locomotive in Bywell's article is captioned "Puffing billy" but it is not Puffing Billy of 1814, which is currently on display at the Science Museum in London.

The locomotive in Bywell's article is known simply as Billy. It was presented to Newcastle upon Tyne Corporation for preservation in 1881. Initially it was displayed on a plinth at the north end of the High Level Bridge, but was moved to the interior of Newcastle Central station in 1896; it remained there until 1945, when it was moved to the city's Museum of Science and Industry; it was moved again in 1981 to the Stephenson Railway Museum in nearby North Shields, where it is still on display.

The early history of the locomotive is uncertain; it is probably a George Stephenson locomotive, and was probably built at Killingworth Colliery workshops around 1815-1820.[13]

The twentieth century

In 1900 the North Eastern Railway started replacing the gas lighting in the station with electric arc equipment. Further use of electricity came from 1904 when electric trains were introduced, using Central station from 1 July 1904.

The Metro system opened in 1980, taking over and improving many of the Tyneside suburban routes that had declined under British Railways management. The Metro system was a considerable success; it had its own subterranean station below the main line Central station. Many conventional rail services were transferred there, and several of the east end bays were closed and converted to car parking and other usage. The Carlisle line was diverted to enter Newcastle over the King Edward Bridge of 1906, and a large out-of-town shopping development, the "Metro Centre", was opened with a station on that line. The changing pattern of railway services meant that terminating trains were significantly fewer and through trains had increased. The emphasis on bay platforms at the station was no longer appropriate.

The opportunity was taken in conjunction with the East Coast Main Line electrification scheme, inaugurated in 1991, to extend the station southwards to provide more through platforms; this encroached on to land occupied by through tracks earlier used by goods trains but seeing little of that class of traffic by now. A new island platform was provided encompassing the southern wall of the station; the two platform faces are divided so as to provide four numbered platforms, 5 to 8, generally used for local trains.[9]

Metro station

An underground station for Tyne and Wear Metro trains was constructed during the late 1970s, and opened in 1981. Part of the porte-cochère was temporarily dismantled while excavation work took place.[14] The metro station sees 5 million passengers a year and is the third busiest station on the system.

The eastern approach to the station in 1960, viewed from The Castle 
A similar view in 2005. The station was reduced in size after the Metro replaced suburban heavy rail services. 

Train services

East Coast and CrossCountry trains at opposite platforms
A Northern service leaving Newcastle. The Castle Keep is in the background
TransPennine Express and CrossCountry trains terminating at Newcastle
Departures board in the main station concourse
Northern services arriving/departing at Newcastle

Newcastle is a principal stop on the East Coast Main Line. The station is operated by Virgin Trains East Coast.

Virgin Trains East Coast

Virgin Trains East Coast provides high-speed inter-city services southbound every half hour to London (one fast, one semi-fast) as well as 3 trains per 2 hours continue northbound into Scotland. One service is also provided each evening Monday - Friday from Newcastle to Sunderland.[15]

Rolling stock used: Inter-City 225 (Class 91 electric locomotive and DVT) and Inter-City 125 (HST)

Flying Scotsman

Rolling stock used: Inter-City 225 (Class 91 electric locomotive and DVT).


CrossCountry provides a number of services north into Scotland, supplementing Virgin Trains East Coast services, and southbound there are at least 2 trains per hour to the CrossCountry hub at Birmingham from where they are extended towards the South West and South Coast.[16]

Rolling stock used: Class 220, Class 221 'Voyager' diesel multiple units and Inter-City 125 (HST)

TransPennine Express

Newcastle is a terminus for TransPennine Express providing services to Manchester/Liverpool via Leeds (though some services will be extended through to Edinburgh from December 2019 as part of the new TPE franchise agreement).[17]

With the electrification of the Manchester to Liverpool Line, from May 2014 a new timetable was introduced which is made up an hourly express service between Newcastle and Liverpool via Leeds and Manchester reducing journey times to Liverpool to 3 hours as part of the Northern Hub scheme.[18] Services to Manchester Airport now mainly operate in the early morning/late evening (but will become hourly all day from December 2017). Services to Leeds/York are also supplemented by Virgin Trains East Coast and CrossCountry.

Rolling stock used: Class 185 "Pennine" diesel multiple units


Northern provides a number of commuter and regional services :[19]

Some services on the Tyne Valley line extend beyond Carlisle, including one service to Whitehaven and three services to Glasgow Central via the Glasgow South Western Line. The Glasgow services are operated using Abellio ScotRail Class 156 trains, but operate as Northern services with Northern crew between Newcastle and Carlisle.

Rolling stock used: Sprinter (Class 156) and Pacer (Class 142) diesel multiple units

Preceding station National Rail Following station
TransPennine Express
North TransPennine
Edinburgh Waverley   Virgin Trains East Coast
Flying Scotsman
  London Kings Cross
Darlington   Virgin Trains East Coast
London-Edinburgh/Scotland express
Durham or
  Virgin Trains East Coast
    Alnmouth or
Morpeth or
Berwick-upon-Tweed or
Edinburgh Waverley
Darlington   Virgin Trains East Coast
Durham   Virgin Trains East Coast
Durham Coast Line
East Coast Main Line
East Coast Main Line
East Coast Main Line
Tyne Valley Line
Tyne Valley Line


In May 2016 ORR gave the green light to a new operator called East Coast Trains which would operate services to Edinburgh Waverley via Stevenage, Newcastle & Morpeth. The operation would begin operation in 2021.[20][21][22]

Layout and platforms

Departures board between platforms 3 and 4

The National Rail station has 12 platforms. The arrangement is:

Station redevelopment

Station redevelopment underway at entrance to Newcastle Central station
A British Rail InterCity service at Newcastle in 1983

Plans were revealed on 30 April 2013 for a major redevelopment,[23] including an £8.6 million project to regenerate the inside of the station,[24] and a further £11.4 million to develop the area surrounding the station.[25] The portico redevelopment was completed in April 2014.[26]

The redevelopment plans contain a number of improvements, including:

The redevelopment plan also includes a number of improvements to the area surrounding the station, including:

The work began in May 2013 and was completed during April 2014 by Miller Construction.[24] The station operated as normal throughout the works.[24] The £8.6 million funding for the internal station work was provided by the Department for Transport's Station Commercial Project Facility Fund.[24] The external works were jointly funded by NE1, Regional Growth Fund and Newcastle City Council.[25]

Railway infrastructure

Simplified rail network around Newcastle
East Coast Main Line via Morpeth
Heaton Depot
North Tyneside Loop via Walkergate
Heaton Closed 1980
Riverside Branch via Byker
North Tyneside Loop via Jesmond
Manors Tyne and Wear Metro
Carliol Square
Closed 1850
Tyne Valley Line via Scotswood  
Newcastle Central Tyne and Wear Metro
King Edward VII Bridge 
High Level Bridge River Tyne

Tyne Valley Line via Metrocentre 
Durham Coast Line via Heworth
East Coast Main Line via Durham 

Trains cross the River Tyne on one of two bridges. The older High Level Bridge south-east of the station, designed by Robert Stephenson opened on 27 September 1849. Its location meant north-south trains had to reverse in the station to continue their journey. The King Edward VII Bridge south-west of the station opened on 10 July 1906 allowing north-south trains to continue without reversing. The two bridges enable the trackwork north and south of the river to form a complete circle, allowing trains to be turned if necessary. The former Gateshead depot, next to the connecting tracks on the south side of the Tyne, mirrored Newcastle station.

The station was noted for its complex set of diamond crossings to the east of the station which facilitated access to the High Level Bridge and northbound East Coast Main Line and was said to be the greatest such crossing in the world.[31] The crossing was the subject of many early-1900s post cards, titled The Largest Railway Crossing in the World - photographed from the castle (towards the station), or from the station towards the castle.[32]

The crossing has been simplified in recent years as the opening of the Metro brought about the withdrawal of many heavy-rail suburban services and the closure of the bay platforms they operated from on the north side of the station removing the need for such a complex crossing. Much of this work was carried out in 1988-9 as part of remodelling and resignalling work associated with ECML electrification. A new island platform on the former goods lines was commissioned as part of this work, with signalling control relocated to the Tyneside IECC on the opposite side of the river. Heaton depot is to the north of the station, on the East Coast Main Line.

Accidents and incidents

Tyne & Wear Metro

Newcastle station is located above Central metro station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, one of five underground stations serving the city centre. Central is an interchange between the Yellow and Green lines, and is the last stop prior to crossing the River Tyne towards Gateshead.

Preceding station   Tyne and Wear Metro   Following station
towards St James via the Coast
Yellow line
towards South Shields
towards Airport
Green line
towards South Hylton

See also


  1. Since the opening of a temporary crossing of the Tyne, through trains had used Greenesfield station in Gateshead and had reversed at the east end of the Central Station site without making a station call.


  2. "Newcastle Central Station". Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  6. "ORR Station Usage Estimates".
  7. Richard Grainger, A Proposal for Concentrating the Termini of the Newcastle & Carlisle, Great North of England and Proposed Edinburgh Railways, Newcastle, 1836
  8. Bill Fawcett, The Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, North Eastern Railway Association, 2008, ISBN 978 1 873513 69 9
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Bill Fawcett, in John Addyman and Bill Fawcett, The High Level Bridge and Newcastle Central Station – 150 years across the Tyne, North Eastern Railway Association, 1999, ISBN 1-873513-28-3
  10. 1 2 John F Addyman (editor), A History of the Newcastle & Berwick Railway, North Eastern Railway Association, 2011, ISBN 978 1 873513 75 0
  11. 1 2 3 4 E M Bywell, Notable Railway Stations: XI: The Central Station, North-Eastern Railway, Newcastle-on-Tyne, in the Railway Magazine, January 1901
  13. Michael R Bailey, Loco Motion: The World's Oldest Steam Locomotives, History Press, 2014, ISBN 978 0 7524 9101 1, pages 31-33
  14. "Odd bits". Timmonet. 23 December 2000. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
  15. GB eNRT 2015-16 Edition Table 26
  16. GB eNRT 2015-16, Table 51
  17. TPE Franchise Improvements - Newcastle (DfT)
  18. GB eNRT, Table 39
  19. GB eNRT 2015-16, Tables 44 & 48
  20. Applications for the East Coast Main Line Office of Rail and Road 12 May 2016
  21. First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service BBC News 12 May 2016
  22. VTEC and FirstGroup granted East Coast Main Line paths Railway Gazette International 12 May 2016
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Exciting plans for Central Station" (Press release). Newcastle City Council. 30 April 2013.
  24. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "New Era for Newcastle Central Station". East Coast. 2013.
  25. 1 2 Daunt, Joe (30 April 2013). "Revamping Newcastle Central Station: Multi-Million Plans Revealed to Public". Sky News Tyne and Wear.
  26. Lognonne, Ruth (7 April 2014). "Newcastle Central Station's new look is unveiled". The Journal. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  27. 1 2 3 Pearson, Adrian (12 March 2013). "Businesses welcome plans to revamp Newcastle's Central Station". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Newcastle Central Station to Benefit from an £8.6million Investment". Network Rail. 2011.
  29. 1 2 3 4 5 Pearson, Adrian (11 March 2013). "Newcastle's Central station set for radical £8 million makeover". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle.
  30. Pearson, Adrian (20 April 2013). "Radical Plans for Newcastle Central Station are Revealed". The Journal. Newcastle.
  31. Guy, Andy (2003). Steam and Speed: Railways of Tyne and Wear. Tyne Bridge Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 1-85795-161-1.
  32. "Old Postcards And Photographs Of Newcastle upon Tyne",
  33. Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Truro: Atlantic Books. p. 17. ISBN 0-906899-07-9.
  34. Trevena, Arthur (1981). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 2. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 38. ISBN 0-906899 03 6.


Further reading

External links

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