Basildon: Train stations serving the area
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.
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
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.Traction
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
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
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.Stations
There are 17 stations on the direct route from Fenchurch Street
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.
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.
are 4 stations on the Upminster to Grays branch line.
They are: Upminster, Ockendon, Chafford Hundred and
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.