Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Eastern - Braintree review 1

Date of Journey: 13/3/07   Cost £4.10 cheap day return

Dept Witham 10.36  arrive Braintree 10.52  journey time 16 mins

Dept Braintree 11.00  arrive Witham 11.15 journey time 15 mins

Distance approx 7 miles.

Weather sunny spells /cloudy

Train : 8 carriage EMU on single track no crossing loops

Railway company: One 

Frequency of trains - every hour


The train had come from Liverpool Street and had on average about two people per carriage. I was surprised to see it was an eight-car train, though there were no problems fitting this train onto any of the platforms.  It left Witham on time and went very slowly once it had left the main line - apparently there is a 10 mph speed restriction here. I noticed lots of rubbish on the trackside at this point. Then once it had moved away from the built up area of Witham it picked up speed. The route followed the B1018 Witham to Braintree road at first, then moved away following a route along the tops of rolling hills to first station, White Notley. There is a level crossing here, but no traffic either side. The station is a typical one-platform station, unmanned with a bus shelter. Next station along is Cressing, which seems to be about half a mile away from the village to the west. Cressing is famous for its Cressing Temple, a 12th Century Barn that is connected with the Knights Templar. The railway passes over the newish A120, which now bypasses Braintree and links Colchester with Stansted Airport and the M11. Then soon we stop at Braintree Freeport, a new station built in 200? To service the 100's of customers visiting the shopping mall there. I saw a Marks & Spencer but not much else. Two people got off. We are now in Braintree proper and the train continues about another ½ mile to the terminus of Braintree Station. About 20 people are waiting to get on and about the same number alight from the train. I did see a conductor get off, but he didn't check our tickets on either outward or return journey. Outside, the station was quite busy with taxis and other cars picking up people. The station is quite big and had a ticket office open, but there was a to let sign outside for office space in the station building itself. There is an eight-minute turnaround for the driver and conductor to swap over and then the train left on time with a through train to Liverpool Street. At Witham about another twenty people were waiting to get on the train with about 10 getting off.

Summary: Quite a short branch line of just over six miles, with no freight using the line. Due to the size of Braintree and its nearness to London for commuters, this branch will probably survive for many years to come.