trainspots logo

Written by Mark Johns - 01 Feb 2004
last update by Ben Cannell - 04 Feb 2004
and by Marcus Dawson - 27 Feb 2004
New Mobile Site
We have just launched a new mobile version of this site - m.trainspots. This page will use your smart device's GPS to loctate you and guide you to locations that are close to your present location.
Location notes
Ely is a hub at the centre of the Cambridge to Kings Lynn mainline, about 12 miles north of Cambridge.
To the south of Ely are two lines, one heading south-east towards Bury St.Edmunds and Ipswich. The other line heads due south to Cambridge and then on to either London Kings Cross or London Liverpool Street.
To the north of the station the line splits into three, one heading due east to Norwich, another heading north to Kings Lynn and the third west towards March and Peterborough.
Railway type and traffic
Ely station is a three platform through station located on the outskirts of the city, a small industrial estate is immediately adjacent to the west and open farmland to the east.
The Passenger traffic through Ely come in two types; Local and Long distance services.
Local services consist of Greater Anglia hourly Norwich to Cambridge and Ipswich to Peterborough services. Great Northern operate hourly services from London Kings Cross to Kings Lynn.
Long distance services consist of Cross Country operated Birmingham New Street to Stansted Airport and Liverpool Lime Street to Norwich services.

The Freight flow through Ely is very good, due to the nature of the track layout. There are Freightliner and GBRf services from Hams Hall and Selby to Felixstowe. Also Leeds to Ipswich. There is a new Port Clarence to Chesterton Jct (Cambridge) flow, DB Schenker from Wakefield to Felixstowe, Mountsorrel to Chesterton Jct, Norwich Trowse and Barham. Also a service from Bury St. Edmunds to Peterborough. Also two daily GBRf return services to Felixstowe, one from Hams Hall, one from Selby. Similarly, two return Freightliner services daily to Felixstowe; one from Leeds and the other from Wilton.
Other services are in the form of Engineering trains operated by both GBRf and DB Schenker, with more to come soon with the move of Temple Mills to March Whitemoor Yard (now in the process of being rebuilt - 02/2004).

The station is staffed throughout its opening hours and I’ve had no trouble taking photographs after dark, the staff members are a friendly bunch.
Link to Real Time Trains
RTT Link Ely
This link should be close to the location, but may not be the actual location so please check the page. This link will take you to what is happening 'around now'. Dates and times can be changed at the top of the page.
The immediate environment is quite photogenic, and the station can get very busy at times especially on Wednesdays with the majority of the freight running on this day. The station area has recently this summer had a hedge trim which means you can now photograph from the south end of the station with a telephoto for freight coming in from the Ipswich branch.
The station is kept fairly well with staff keeping the platforms clean, the only downfall is the peeling paintwork on the roofs (which flake off in high winds!).
There are a few nice plaques on the wall on platform 1, which are worth a photo.
Road directions
From the A142 from Newmarket
Heading towards Ely you bypass Soham and reach Stuntney, the level crossing will soon be clear to see, being extremely careful with the height of your vehicle as the underpass is very low and has been hit countless times in the past. Anything higher than a car and you should really use the level crossing on the right. Take the next left turning immediately after the bridge into the station car park. Park your car and pay at the booking office (Free parking at Weekends).

From the A14
At Cambridge head onto the A10 northbound to Ely, after passing by Waterbeach business park and past Stretham you will eventually reach Ely roundabout. Take the third exit - right - which takes you down Angel Drove to the Tesco roundabout. See below

From the A1 Peterborough
Either follow the instructions from the A14 or join the A141 at Huntingdon heading towards March. Follow road signs to Chatteris and take the A142 to Sutton and then onto Ely. After passing by Sutton and Whitchford you will pass Duffields of East Anglia’s Volvo Truck and Bus depot on the right after going over the roundabout. At the next roundabout take the third exit (right) and the over the next roundabout to Angel Drove to the Tesco roundabout

From the Tesco roundabout straight over and you reach the next mini roundabout, take a right hand turning and you will see the level crossing and road bridge. Take the next right turning into the station, park your car and pay at the booking office (Free parking at Weekends).

Click here to set up your location for directions to this location

Ely map co-ordinates
Parking costs (2014) £5.30 per day or £4.50 for Off Peak leisure travellers, but the car park is usually full with commuters. On Saturdays and Sundays Parking is Free.
The adjacent Tesco store has a three-hour limit and they will fine/clamp anyone who overstays more than once, they do keep records.
Public transport
Local services from Stagecoach operate from outside the station car park to the city centre and from outside Tesco to Cambridge, and March via the City Centre.

Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
There is a buffet on platforms 2 and 3, Ely Station News on platform 1 sells snacks and drinks. There’s the LA Bean outlet on platform 1, which sells good coffee.
Toilets are located on Platform 1 and between 2 and 3. If these toilets are closed due to vandalism then try Tesco which are better.
Phone boxes are located on Platform 1 and between 2 and3.
Cash points are located at Tesco outside the entrance. Tesco also have a restaurant where you can get sorted with a full English for starting a day’s worth of spotting!
Local accommodation is mainly in the city centre with many B&B’s and a Hotel. The author recommends the Lamb Inn in the city centre. They have a nice restaurant and views of the Cathedral being a stone throw away. About 10 minutes walk from the station to the city centre.

BC - The Cutter Inn on the waterfront at Ely marina offers accommodation, tel: +44 (0) 1353 662713
Ely Online contains further info on accommodation and facilities in the city.
Sun Compass
Sun Compass using Suncalc by brought to you by Vladimir Agafonkin:
It might be necessary to adjust the time to suit your visit, this link should open with the current day.

Googly map
Streetmap links
Ely general view map
Ely close up map

Windows Local Live Link - image quality may vary

Who likes this location on facebook

Railway Gen Group
Anglia Gen
Photographic notes
Mark John’s notes
Photo’s are best taken from platform 2 and 3 as freight can be seen closer without obstacles running through the up goods line. For the down goods line head down to the bottom of platform 2 for a better angle.
Photo’s can also be taken from the north end of platform 1 on the small 'spotters platform' - which is where the author normally hangs out. But do not use the slope for photo’s as it is trespassing. Although you often find passengers using it as a path as well!
For on track plant, photo’s can be taken from platform 1 and through the fence to the compound, but do not enter the compound as this is trespassing, and the security guard is always there keeping an eye on the gates from the bottom of the compound.
The only obstacles around the station are the Overhead line masts on the platform 3 side looking towards the up goods line.

Ben Cannell’s notes
The light is generally good throughout the day at Ely, only the low winter sun will cause a problems for photos of trains approaching from the south. Speeds of the trains are low, there’s a 20mph restriction for locos, 35mph for units over the river bridges immediately north of the station and all passenger trains call at Ely station.

There is little in the way of photographic obstructions on the station itself, just the usual lamp posts and OLE. You will have problems if trying to photograph or film trains using a zoom lens on the southern approaches due to the gentle curvature of the line and the mass of OLE masts. Similarly you will have trouble standing at the northern extremity of platform 1 for the same reason, but if sticking towards the middle to southern end of the platforms you can find a few viewpoints, pointing your lens along the tracks.

Most freights pass through non stop, using platform 1 for northbound and platform 2 for southbound; however they may be looped. The loop to the east of platform 3 is mainly used by southbound trains or those coming off the Bury St Edmunds/Ipswich branch; the loop south of platform 1 for trains coming up from Cambridge. The Redlands train to Norwich runs round at Ely and can use either loop.
At night, the station lamps won’t distort the colours as they appear to be a mixture of high pressure sodium lamps and fluorescent tubes.
Links to photographs at this location

Mark's Trains - Ely
BJC and Mr T's Railways of East Anglia - Photos
OTPnet - Ely

General views - All photographs © Mark Johns unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking south

Fig 1 - Looking south

From platform 3 with the up goods line in view on the left. Note the hedges have been cut down.

Fig 2 - Looking south

Fig 2 - Looking south

From the top of platform 1 showing the down goods line in the distance on the right and the up goods line on the left. The line curves to the left towards Cambridge where the branch to Ipswich spurs off just after this corner. The engineer’s sidings to the far right on platform 1.

Fig 3 - Looking north

Fig 3 - Looking north

From the top of platform 1 showing the down goods line in the distance on the right and the up goods line on the left. The line curves to the left towards Cambridge where the branch to Ipswich spurs off just after this corner.

Fig 4 - Looking north

Fig 4 - Looking north

Further along platform 1 showing the level crossing more clearly as a 170 approaches platform 3.

Fig 5 - Looking north

Fig 5 - Looking north

From the bottom of platform 2 showing the lines joining from the station area. Further down the line about 3 miles away the lines splits at Ely North Junction for routes to Norwich, Kings Lynn and Peterborough.

Fig 6 - Looking south

Fig 6 - Looking south

This shows how busy the station can get at times with two services leaving the station, one freight and the other pax. both heading northbound. The freight on platform 2 is for Ely North Jct, where we have a freight terminal run by the Potter Group.

Fig 7 - Looking south Photo by Ben Cannell

Fig 7 - Looking south <i>Photo by Ben Cannell</i>

This view shows a northbound freight in the stations passing loop.

Fig 8 - Looking south Photo by Marcus Dawson

Fig 8 - Looking south <i>Photo by Marcus Dawson</i>

The level crossing is a route for HGV's to pass over the railway. Cars and other low height vehicles use an underpass. The bank up to the crossing provides an interesting angle on trains departing the west sidings. Given the curve of the track a side on view can be had from here.

Back to the top

All information contained within this is site is © Trainspots. The images used on this site remain the property of the original photographer, as credited at the top of the page, and are used with their kind permission.

The information on these pages is supplied for the benefit of railway enthusiasts who carry out a harmless hobby, and through the medium of photography and video, actually promote the railway industry. Railway enthusiasts can also act as eyes and ears against railway vandalism, and as such should surely be encouraged to do so by the supply of adequate information such as is found on this website.

This site has been created to assist railway photographers in their travels around the country. It is based on the personal knowledge and experience. No liability can be held against the web site or its contributions for incorrect information. Trainspots will endeavour to check all information and corrections will be accepted and posted accordingly.

Advice as to the locations general environment is given as a guide on each page. This information is a GUIDE only. ALWAYS be careful with your equipment, Trainspots can not be held responsible for your personal security. Avoid leaving your property on display for all to see, be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are, sadly, people who will not think twice about trying to steal your equipment.

Trainspots DOES NOT condone trespass and none of the information on this site should be taken as a right to trespass on either railway or private land. To the best of our knowledge all locations are publicly accessible areas, where they are not contact information will be given to the appropriate authority for permission to be obtained.

The content of this site is created and intended for all age ranges but the content of sites linked from this site are not subject to the same intentions. Trainspots will attempt to check links for validity but as time passes and the site grows this will not always be possible. Broken, or indeed updates to, links should be submitted to the editor for inclusion in the updates. All links external to the Trainspots site are opened in a new browser window. Trainspots has been running now for over 10 years and there are imitation sites and guides to railfotspots. But we are a free site and we continue on the path we started out on over a decade ago to provide a useful guide to UK Railway Photographic Locations.