Brighton railway station is the southern terminus of the Brighton Main Line in England, and the principal station serving the city of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex. It is 50 miles 49 chains (81.45 km) from London Victoria; and the preceding station is Preston Park.

The station is managed by Southern, which also operates many of the trains. Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Western Railway also operate some trains from Brighton.

It was built by the London & Brighton Railway in 1840, initially connecting Brighton to Shoreham-by-Sea, westwards along the coast, and shortly afterwards connecting it to London Bridge and the county town of Lewes to the east. In 1846, the railway became the London Brighton and South Coast Railway following mergers with other railways with lines between Portsmouth and Hastings.

With almost 16.1 million passenger entries and exits in 2011/12, Brighton was then the seventh-busiest station in the country outside London.[2]

History and development

The London and Brighton Railway (L&BR) built a passenger station, goods station, locomotive depot and railway works on a difficult site on the northern edge of Brighton. This site was 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from, and 70 feet (21 m) above the sea shore, and had involved considerable excavation work to create a reasonable gradient from Patcham Tunnel.[3]

Passenger station

The station forecourt showing Mocatta's original building which is now largely obscured

The passenger station was a three-storey building in an Italianate style, designed by David Mocatta in 1839–40 which incorporated the head office of the railway company. (This building still stands but has been largely obscured by later additions.) The station is said to have many similarities to the Nine Elms railway station of the London and Southampton Railway (1838) designed by Sir William Tite.[4] Baker & Son were paid £9766 15s for the station building between May and August 1841.[5] The platform accommodation was built by John Urpeth Rastrick and consisted of four pitched roofs each 250 ft long (76 m).[6] It opened for trains to Shoreham on 11 May 1840, and in September 1841 for trains to London.[7]

Brighton Station interior in 1962

The station site was extended for the opening of the Brighton Lewes and Hastings Railway in June 1846 (which had been purchased by the L&BR in 1845). In July 1846, the L&BR merged with other railways to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

Further extensions to the station occurred during the mid-19th century but only a limited number of additional platforms could be added because of the awkward sloping site. By the late 1870s the facilities were inadequate for the growing volume of traffic and so the existing platforms were lengthened to be able to accommodate two trains, and the three separate roofs were replaced by an overall roof during 1882/1883.

The station has an impressive large double-spanned curved glass and iron roof covering all of the platforms, which was substantially renovated in 1999 and 2000.[8]

At the front of the station is a taxi rank and a bus station. A tunnel runs under the station which once provided an open-air cab run at a shallower gradient than Trafalgar Street outside, which had been the main approach to the station before the construction of Queen's Road (which was financially supported by the railway, and intended to improve access). The cab run was covered (forming a tunnel) when the station above was extended over it on cast iron columns. The cab run remains in situ but has been sealed at the station end.

The station roof as refurbished

Goods station and yard

A goods station and yard was also constructed on the eastern side of the passenger station but on a site 30 ft lower (9.1 m) due to the sloping site, which was initially accessed from the Shoreham line by a second tunnel under the passenger station. The tunnel entrance was filled in after new tracks were laid into the goods yard, but a portion of it was converted into offices during World War II, and these were in use until the early 21st century. (A portion of the tunnel is still used by a local rifle club.) The site of the goods yard has since been redeveloped, and much of it forms the New England Quarter.[9]

Locomotive and carriage works

To the north of the station, on the east side of the main line, the railway constructed its locomotive and carriage works, which operated from 1841 until 1911, when the carriage works was moved to Lancing and 1957 when the locomotive works closed. Thereafter Isetta cars were briefly built in a part of the works.[citation needed]

Locomotive depot

Brighton Locomotive Depot seen from above 11 July 1954

The London and Brighton Railway opened a small locomotive shed and servicing facility to the north west of the station for locomotives on the Shoreham line, in May 1840, and another, adjacent to the locomotive works for main line locomotives, the following year.[10] During 1860–1861 John Chester Craven, the Locomotive Superintendent of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) began the removal of a large chalk hill to the north of the station, which had been dumped during the excavation of the main line. The space created was used to accommodate a new much enlarged motive power depot in 1861, replacing the two existing facilities.[11][12] During the early 1930s, following the electrification of the lines the steam motive power depot was rebuilt and reduced in size.[11] It was closed 15 June 1961, but remained in use for stabling steam locomotives until 1964, and was demolished in 1966.

The maintenance depot

The site is currently the Network Rail's ECR and infrastructure maintenance depot, and Southern's Lovers Walk Depot, used for servicing most of Southern's single voltage Class 377 Electrostar fleet and their newly acquired Class 442s and Class 313s.

Listed status

Brighton station was listed at Grade II*[1] on 30 April 1973.[13] As of February 2001, it was one of 70 Grade II*-listed buildings and structures, and 1,218 listed buildings of all grades, in the city of Brighton and Hove.[14]

Platform layout

The station has 8 platforms, numbered 1 to 8 from left to right when looking from the main entrance. All platforms are long enough to accommodate 12-car trains.

  • Platforms 1 and 2 can only be used by services on the West Coastway Line.[a] It is served by Southern services towards Hove, Worthing, Chichester, Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central, as well as GWR services to Bristol Temple Meads and beyond.
  • Platform 3 is the only platform that can be used by services on all three lines (although trains on the West Coastway Line are limited to 4 carriages in length). It is mostly used by Brighton Main Line services.
  • Platforms 4-8 can be used by services on the Brighton Main Line and the East Coastway Line. Usually, Platforms 4-6 (as well as Platform 3) are shared by Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services on the Brighton Main Line, while Platforms 7 and 8 are used by Southern services on the East Coastway Line; however, this usage may be changed at times of disruption.


Currently, all trains are operated by Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express or Great Western Railway.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   Gatwick Express
Brighton Main Line
  Gatwick Airport
(Preston Park or
Hassocks at peak times)
Thameslink Route
  Preston Park or
Burgess Hill or
Haywards Heath
Brighton Main Line
  Hassocks or
Burgess Hill
Terminus   Southern
East Coastway Line
  London Road
or Lewes
Terminus   Southern
West Coastway Line
  Great Western Railway
West Coastway Line
Limited service
Disused railways
Terminus   British Rail
Southern Region

Steyning Line

Brighton Main Line

The typical off-peak service from Brighton on the Brighton Main Line is:

West Coastway Line

The typical off-peak service from Brighton on the West Coastway Line is:

There are also several trains per day to Bristol Temple Meads, some of which run further to Cardiff Central or Great Malvern. These services are operated by Great Western Railway.

East Coastway Line

The typical off-peak service from Brighton on the East Coastway Line is:

All services on this line are operated by Southern.

Future services

Thameslink Programme

By 2018, new services from Brighton will be introduced to destinations north of central London (alongside the current services to Bedford).[15] In May 2014, a proposed timetable has been released; it is planned that:

  • The current service between Brighton and London Bridge will be extended to Cambridge via London St Pancras, Stevenage and Letchworth Garden City;
  • The current service between Brighton and Bedford will run via London Bridge (which at the moment they omit, as there are engineering works taking place at London Bridge, meaning that it is currently impossible to travel between London Bridge and London St Pancras directly).

In September 2016, a new proposed timetable has been released.[16] The planned service pattern from Brighton has remained largely unchanged, although Thameslink is also considering extending the Cambridge services to the new Cambridge North station.

Former operators

Thameslink service ready for a dawn departure from Brighton
Brighton station with a 4 Cig under the Southern Region of British Rail in 1986.

The following companies have served Brighton in the past:

Until 1967 a service operated between Brighton and Birkenhead Woodside via Redhill, Reading, Oxford, Birmingham Snow Hill, Wolverhampton Low Level, Shrewsbury and Chester. The stock was provided on alternate days by British Railways successors to the Southern Railway and the Great Western Railway being the Southern Region and Western Region.

South West Trains used to operate regular services from this station, to Reading and Paignton, via Worthing and Chichester. These services were withdrawn on 10 December 2007 because of new franchise obligations, and South West Trains no longer operate any services from Brighton.[citation needed]

CrossCountry also served Brighton, with services to Birmingham New Street and beyond. These services were withdrawn from the December 2008 timetable change, as they were no longer required by the new franchise.

Disruptions to services from the station

Football matches at the Falmer Stadium are served by train services from Brighton to Falmer. A queuing system is in operation from 2 hours before kick off for trains departing from platforms 7 and 8. The stadium's 30,750 capacity means these queues are large close to kick off, and trains depart full and standing. After the game, fans leave the station via the emergency gates, and a queuing system is in operation for West Coastway Line services departing from platforms 1 and 2. Due to the high numbers of passengers and inadequate capacity these trains are normally also full with people standing.[citation needed]

The Lewes Bonfire night, usually on 5 November, attracts large numbers of people, many travelling through Brighton station. As a result, Southern operate a queuing system from the afternoon onwards.[17]

The London to Brighton Bike Ride in June each year attracts large numbers of cyclists. As a result, Southern ban bicycles from many trains on the day, and on the following day they operate a queuing system at Brighton station.[18] The train operators had in the past allowed bicycles on trains for the many cyclists returning to London.[19]


Passenger facilities include a ticket office, a travel information office, and several retail outlets. There are bus stops, a taxi rank, a car park and bicycle storage. Facilities for cyclists were extended in 2014 when a "cycle hub" was built at the rear entrance to the station. The three-storey building combines storage space for 500 bicycles with shops to buy or hire a bicycle, a repair facility, toilets, showers, changing facilities and a café. It is open 24 hours a day and storage is free of charge; most funding came from the Department for Transport (£500,000), Network Rail (£200,000), local rail operator Southern and the city council (£100,000 each).[20]

Train driver depots

Both Southern and Thameslink have driver depots at Brighton station.[21]


On 4 August 1909, a motor-train hauled by Terrier No.83 Earlswood collided with the buffers at Brighton, due to the driver's error. Nineteen people were injured.[22]


In 2012 £4.5 million was secured from the Department for Transport’s Station Commercial Project Facility for renovation of the concourse. Changes include more automated ticket gates, a new travel and ticket centre, a new information booth, a new passenger lounge with cafe, relocation of the ticket machines and ATM's and changed layout of the station.[23]

The concourse includes a Marks & Spencer, WH Smiths, doodle, The Cyclist café bar, The Waiting room café and other food and retail outlets. The front of the station often sees stalls and street food vans.


See also


  1. ^ Platform 2 also has a direct connection to the Brighton Main Line (with trains on that line being limited to 4 carriages in length); however, this link passes through the Brighton Lovers Walk depot, and is not used by any scheduled passenger services.


  1. ^ a b Historic England, "Brighton Station including train sheds (1380797)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 26 June 2017 
  2. ^ Steer Davies Gleave (May 2013). "Estimates of station usage 2011–12" (XLSX). Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Turner, John Howard (1977). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 1 Origins and Formation. Batsford. p. 123. ISBN 0-7134-0275-X. 
  4. ^ Cole, David (1958). "Mocatta's stations for the Brighton Railway". Journal of transport history. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 5: 149–157. ISSN 0022-5266. 
  5. ^ Cole (1958), pp.150.
  6. ^ Cooper, B. K., (1981). 'Rail Centres: Brighton. Booklaw Publications. p. 30. ISBN 1-901945-11-1. 
  7. ^ Body, Geoffrey (1989). Railways of the Southern Region. Patrick Stephens. p. 53. ISBN 1-85260-297-X. 
  8. ^ Project information from Kier Construction Ltd[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10254799.300_jobs_created_by_new_Brighton_hotel_and_office_development/
  10. ^ Griffiths, Roger & Smith, Paul (1999). The directory of British engine sheds and principal locomotive servicing points: 1 Southern England, the Midlands, East Anglia and Wales. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Co. p. 3. 
  11. ^ a b Cooper (1981), p. 58
  12. ^ Griffiths (1999), p. 69
  13. ^ "Detailed record: Brighton Station including train sheds, Queen's Road (north side), Brighton". Images of England. English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "Images of England – Statistics by County (East Sussex)". Images of England. English Heritage. 2007. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Proposed Thameslink service pattern
  16. ^ "Timetable consultation : Thameslink and Great Northern". 
  17. ^ "Lewes Bonfire Night". Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "London to Brighton Bike Ride Southern Cycle Policy". Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Cyclists' group urges rethink on London to Brighton Bike Ride train ban". Brighton & Hove News. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Station cycle centre on course for completion". Brighton & Hove Independent. Love News Media Ltd. 6 June 2014. p. 5. 
  21. ^ "Train operating company driver's depots on the Traindriver.org website". September 2017. 
  22. ^ Middlemass, Tom (1995). "Chapter 5: A Complicated Tale". Stroudley and his Terriers. York: Pendragon. p. 51. ISBN 1-899816-00-3. Earlswood hit the platform buffers 
  23. ^ "Brighton station's £5m concourse transformation unveiled  : Southern". 

Further reading

  • "£18m rebuild of Brighton station starts with £3m working platform". RAIL. No. 323. EMAP Apex Publications. 28 January – 10 February 1998. p. 14. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699. 

External links

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