September 19 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, March 20, 2014
An author who has written a book about Britain’s most interesting small train stations has dedicated a chapter to Shippea Hill.
Dixe Wills’ book Tiny Stations celebrates the eccentricities of Britain’s least used, most remote stations.
Shippea Hill, which opened in 1845 as Mildenhall Road and was also known as Burnt Fen, is located near Prickwillow on the line between Ely and Norwich.
Wills explores the origins of the Shippea Hill name, its sporadic service, lack of passengers and the day it became national news when a train driver was killed following a collision with a lorry carrying carrots.
During the chapter, he says: “Shippea Hill must surely be the only railway that includes ‘hill’ in the name while actually standing below ground level.”
The station has practically no service - passengers have to make do with one train per day to Norwich (none on Sunday) and one train per week to Cambridge.
According to 2003 Strategic Rail Authority figures, Shippea Hill had just eleven passengers in the whole year.
This number grew to 378 passengers last year but, with a maximum seven trains a week, a further surge in demand is unlikely.
On December 3 1976, the station became infamous when a passenger train collided with a lorry carrying carrots on an unmanned level crossing.
The engine driver Robert Hitcham was killed and eight passengers were injured.
According to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, it is the last time in Britain a member of staff on a train was killed due to a collision at a user worked crossing.
The wooden level crossing gates adjacent to Shippea Hill Railway Station used to be opened and closed manually by the signaller in Shippea Hill signal box but, in August 2012, the 140 year-old signal box was closed and the crossing was renewed with automated full barriers with red flashing road lights.
Tiny Stations by Dixe Wills is published by AA Publishing, hardback, £16.99, and is available from April 1 at shop.theaa.com