The city of Cambridge is quite famous, not just within the UK, but around the world. It hosts one of the most famous universities in the world, the University of Cambridge, which was founded all way back in 1209. The university is the third-oldest surviving university in the world, and is currently rated as the second-best university in the world. Given its history, it is no surprise that Cambridge has plenty of remarkable buildings and locations, that reflect the city’s legacy.
The city’s primary train station does sort of honour the heritage. The main station building was opened on the 29th of July 1845, following years of protracted negotiations over the route to the city (conversations which ended up involving Robert Stephenson, son of the ‘father of the railways’ George Stephenson). Multiple lines ran into Cambridge, as befitted a prestigious destination (and because the University did not want multiple stations, they all converged at one point). It took quite a few years, but eventually, numerous established services would approach Cambridge from all directions, and there was even a line that linked Cambridge with the UK’s other famous university, Oxford.
As with all things, the complex arrangements of different companies and differing services, following by the Grouping Act, and the eventual nationalisation of the railways, dramatically altered and curtailed services in and out of Cambridge. Nowadays, there are still quite a few locations served by this interesting station, though the Varsity Line (the link to Oxford) is long gone.
For many years, Cambridge station was an unusual combination of terminal and through station. Bay platforms existed (and still exist) at both the north and south of the station, but the sheer length of the main platform meant trains heading in either direction could terminate there too (Cambridge has the third-longest platform in England). As a passenger, you’d get off at the southern end, and walk up to catch a new train to services served by other lines (something I’ve personally done). The impracticality of this meant that new platforms were added in 2011, and additional platforms have been proposed.
Services from Cambridge include two London terminals, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street, run by two different operators, along two different routes. King’s Cross-bound trains run down the Cambridge Line, which links to the East Coast Mainline at Hitchin. Trains to Liverpool Street run along the West Anglia Mainline. There are also several other services that run to or through Cambridge. There is a service to Norwich, services that call at Cambridge run to Birmingham via Peterborough and Leicester, and trains to Ipswich as well. It seems anyone can get to Cambridge, and in the coming years, the line to Oxford (that will also carry passengers to Great Yarmouth) will be rebuilt. It seems Cambridge is on the up!