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Railway Stations
Booking Office, Pitsea Station
Pitsea's 1970s booking office, replaced in 2005.

Basildon: Train stations serving the area

The town of Basildon is served by three railway stations: Basildon, Laindon and Pitsea on the direct route to London or Shoeburyness via Upminster. Pitsea is the oldest having opened in 1855 on the original route via Tilbury, and Basildon is the youngest, opening as recent as 1974. Pitsea became a junction in 1888 the year Laindon opened.

From the late 19th century onwards the railway played a major role in establishing Pitsea and Laindon as growing towns. Land auctions were regularly held with free rail travel and many Eastenders became landowners and built their own properties. Some took up permanent residence in them.

With Basildon now part of the London commuter belt all three stations continue to play a vital role in the town's future.

History of the line

On 4th July 1840 the London and Blackwall Railway Company opened a line from Minories to Blackwall via Stepney. When permission was granted to build a short extension into the city of London, Fenchurch Street station was built and opened on 2nd August 1841.

Gradually the railway was extended and on the 17th June 1852 the London Tilbury and Southend Extension Railway Act, was passed authorising the construction of a new section of line between Forest Gate and Southend via Tilbury. This section also included a short branch from Mucking to Thames Haven (built for use by the Thames Haven Dock & Railway Company).

Within two years the line had reached Stanford-le-Hope and on 7th June, 1855 the Thames Haven branch opened. The following month the line was completed as far as Pitsea where a station opened on 1st July 1855. Southend was finally reached on 1st March 1856, the same year that Fenchurch Street was established as the London terminus.

On 31st March 1858 a section on the London and Blackwall extension between Gas Factory Junction and Barking via Bromley & East Ham opened. This more direct route avoided Stratford and saved a mile on the journey. In 1884 the lines final eastern terminus was reached when Shoeburyness opened on 1st February.

On 24th July 1882 an Act was passed authorising a proposal for a new more direct route between Barking and Pitsea. This reached fruition in 1888 when a station at Laindon opened; the line to Pitsea having been completed, and the new line became operational. A new station at Pitsea - now with four platforms - was built at the same time, and although never referred to as such in timetables the station nameboards for many years carried the name Pitsea Junction.

As a result of the new route mileage was cut from 43 to 35¼.

Construction of the new route through Dunton to Pitsea had proved the most challenging for the contractors. Ground subsidence in the cutting at Dunton held up construction and limited space at Pitsea necessitated a blind arch retaining wall and speed restriction.

The last major development, a branch line linking Romford with Grays via Upminster, was authorised in an act dated 20th August 1883. The first section, Grays to Upminster, with intermediate station at Ockendon, opened on 1st July 1892, followed by the remainder to Romford on 7th June 1893.

A station for Basildon

In 1949 Basildon was designated a new town, and, although it was nearly 10 years before the first town centre shops began opening, plans for a new station to serve the town were soon proposed. Many years of campaigning followed before the station was finally opened in November 1974.

Initial fears that either Pitsea or Laindon might have to close to make way for Basildon were in the event proved to be unfounded and both have continued to serve the town. In the years prior to Basildon's opening, station nameboards at Laindon had read 'Laindon for Basildon'.

Two additional stations at Dunton and Lee Chapel were also proposed but never got beyond the draft planning stage. Interestingly the site proposed for Lee Chapel was very close to the eventual Basildon station site. These plans, judging by one of the station names, presumably pre-dated Basildon's new town designation.

Following electrification in 1962, stations at Bromley, Plaistow, Upton Park, East Ham, Becontree, Dagenham and Hornchurch were all closed, providing a quicker service between Upminster and Fenchurch Street. On 26th May 1995 a new station was opened at Chafford Hundred on the Upminster to Grays branch, to serve the Lakeside shopping centre and Chafford Hundred housing developments, and then in 1999, West Ham, was re-opened to link with the Jubilee line extension. For many years some London bound late evening services operate via Stratford and terminate at Liverpool Street station.


Originally, the first section of line opened between Minories and Blackwall, used a 'cable-haulage' system on a gauge of almost 5 feet (1,524mm), but by April 1849 conversion to standard 4ft 8½ (1,435mm) gauge rails was complete and steam locomotives took over.

The Great Eastern Railway provided the locomotives through to 1880 when the LTS introduced new 4-4-2 tank engines. These proved very durable and various other classes of this type were used well beyond 1909 when the last 4-4-2 tanks were built.

All locomotives carried a name up to the Midland railway takeover of 1912, and these included Basildon, Dunton, Laindon and Pitsea. From 1934 onwards class 2-6-4Ts were introduced in a decade that saw many of the earlier 4-4-2 class withdrawn from service. The main livery colour of these steam engines was light green, while the carriages - often in either 8 or 11 coach configurations - in later years ended up scarlet and brown.

Electrification was considered as early as 1912 following the Midland Railway's takeover. In the event it was not until November 1961 that the first electric trains ran, and then only on off peak services. Steam was finally phased out altogether on 15th June 1962.

The first electric trains used were of the class 302 EMU's (electric multiple units) of either four, eight or 12 carriages running on a 25k V ac overhead power system. They had a top speed of 75 miles an hour.

The carriages, for much of their working life, were a combination of separate compartments; seating 12, and also offering Ladies only - or open plan. Towards the end of their working life compartment carriages were phased out. First class compartments were also available for many years.

Between 1999 and 2002, 74 new computer controlled class 357 Electrostar trains were brought into service and the 'slam door' type stock was gradually phased out. The original class 302's last ran on 4th July 1998 and the final service, featuring an eight carriage class 312, left Fenchurch Street at 13.28 bound for Shoeburyness via Upminster on 29th March, 2003.


The London and Blackwall and Eastern Counties Railways promoted the line and leased it out to its contractors Peto, Brassey & Betts for a period of 21 years from 3rd July 1854. From 1875 onwards the line was operated by the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway company (LTS). On 7th August 1912 the Midland Railway took on ownership of the line through to 1st January 1923, when most of the British railway operators were amalgamated into four main companies. These being: London, Midland and Scottish Railway, London and North Eastern Railway, Southern Railway and the Great Western Railway; thus the line came under L.M.S. ownership. This arrangement lasted until 1st January 1948 when, following nationalisation, the 'Big Four' companies were merged under the name British Railways, which was later shortened in 1965 to British Rail.

After initially being part of the London Midland Region, it passed to British Railways Eastern Region on 20th February 1949. From 1986 the line was worked as Network SouthEast and following privatisation in 1996 reverted back to its original London, Tilbury and Southend title when Prism Rail won the franchise to run the line on 26th May. It was renamed c2c (coast to capital) in May 2000, and is now part of the National Express Group of companies who acquired Prism Rail in September 2000.


There are 17 stations on the direct route from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness.

They are: Fenchurch Street, Limehouse, West Ham, Barking, Upminster, West Horndon, Laindon, Basildon, Pitsea, Benfleet, Leigh-on-Sea, Chalkwell, Westcliff, Southend Central, Southend East, Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness.

There are 20 stations on the Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness section via the Tilbury loop.

They are: Fenchurch Street, Limehouse, West Ham, Barking, Dagenham Dock, Rainham, Purfleet, Grays, Tilbury Town, East Tilbury, Stanford-le-Hope, Pitsea, Benfleet, Leigh-on-Sea, Chalkwell, Westcliff, Southend Central, Southend East, Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness.

There are 4 stations on the Upminster to Grays branch line.

They are: Upminster, Ockendon, Chafford Hundred and Grays.

Preserved Locomotives

A 4-4-2T number 80 has been preserved and can be seen at the Bressingham Steam Museum near Diss in the county of Norfolk.

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2003 with revisions 2004-2008.
Copyright © 2003-2008, B.Cox, Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.
Page added: 2001
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