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This is a main Inter City station situated approximately 55 miles from Euston on the West Coast main line.
It consists of 4 through platforms numbered 2-5 and a bay platform numbered 1 which acts as the outer terminus for Silverlink County’s semi-fast service from Euston. Platforms 2 and 3 are for the slow lines and 4 and 5 act similarly for the fast lines.
Normally all Virgin services that stop will use platforms 4 and 5 although this sometimes changes for operational reasons. There is only one way to access to all platforms. That is via the main booking hall and through automatic barriers. If arriving by any means other than rail it is necessary to purchase a 10p platform ticket from the booking office. Once this has been done staff are usually amenable to photographers who act responsibly, wandering between platforms at will. As always in a railway environment, responsibly also means not using flash and not using a tripod.
Update By Kieren Tabor:
NOTE! Milton Keynes Central has become very photographer unfriendly! I was told to leave by the police. If the gates on the footbridge are closed you have to travel to get past.
To gain access to the platforms you must either seek out the Station Master (not always reliable) or phone Silverlink customer services and request a platform ticket for a specific date. Alternatively got to Wolverton station and travel down to MKC, whether or not you'll get kicked off I don't know! You are all in all better off going to Wolverton station.
Once on the station there are excellent views in excess of a mile in each direction which permits plenty of time to set photographic equipment. Pendolino’s easily fit within the platform which are approx 12 coaches in length although northbound VT locomotive hauled trains normally run right to the end of platform 5 which means fully head on photography is not possible while the trains are stationary. It is worth noting here that the first bridge approx 100 yards north of the station is a pedestrian walkway which affords excellent views, notwithstanding the Overhead Line Equipment, for those type of shots.
Railway type and traffic
All traffic using the West Coast main line has to go through the station, approx 50% of Virgin West Coast services stop at the station. Virgin use class 390 Pendolino units, with the occasional loco hauled cobbler service. Current Virgin Trains plans call for the eradication of locomotive haulage through this section of the line by September 2004. Also using the station is London Midland, as a terminus for the semi-fasts as well as the fast services heading for Northampton and Birmingham
There is usually about 2 freight paths per hour in each direction shared between DB Schenker and Freightliner, these will generally be routed through platforms 1 and 2.
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RTT Link Milton Keynes Central
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As mentioned above this is a main line station with all services and amenities available. The main shopping malls are approx ½ mile to the east and there are pedestrian walkways as well as frequent bus services between the two. Approx 150 yards north east of the station, on the other side of the National Hockey stadium there are fast food restaurants belong to the major hamburger chains.
Also here if ever needed is a Jessop’s photographic store if you suddenly realise you are missing that vital piece of equipment or run out of film.
By motorway leave the M1 at Junction 14, turn left and go straight across 8 roundabouts. The ninth roundabout, called South Grafton roundabout, has a Homebase store on the opposite side, at this one turn right while will bring you along the front of the station area. The station itself has a huge mirror glass walled office block on top which is something of a local landmark.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location Milton Keynes Central map co-ordinates
There is NO short term parking in the immediate station vicinity, there is huge amounts of parking but it is geared to the London commuter needs which is one of the prime sources of business for the station. If after turning right you turn left at the roundabout just past Homebase and Argos, go down to the bottom of the hill then turn left round the back of the ice rink and go to the end of this road you come to a small car park that is permit only 8-9.30 am and is free at other times, it only has room for approx 30 cars but rarely has more than about 5-6 cars using it. This is about 4 minutes walk from the station, the only other options is to buy a £3.00 daily ticket in one of the closer commuter car parks.
The station is on the main line between London Euston, West Midlands cities, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. Approx. 50% trains stop there so this is an excellent way of visiting the station.
Milton Keynes Coachway is by Junction 14 approx 3 miles from the station, with local buses connecting the two sites.
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There is a shop, coffee bar etc in the station booking hall, fast food outlets are with 5 minutes walk and various more upmarket restaurants incorporated in the ground floors of the office blocks.
The are no hotels in the station area but there is a large Holiday Inn by the main Shopping Centre which is a couple of minutes away by taxi.
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Milton Keynes Central
Milton Keynes Central general view map
Milton Keynes Central close up map
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Milton Keynes Central
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The best location is probably the north end of platform 3 / 4 (island platform). Platform 4 affords excellent views both north and south for over a mile in each direction. In the London direction the line goes due south so there is always the problem of midday sun. At other times of the day this is alleviated on the West side but the cutting side and on the east side by the office blocks.
Opposite the northern end of the platform there is a multi-storey commuter car park which affords the longer views of stationary trains although a reasonably powerful telephoto lens may be needed.
About 100 yards north of the station is a footbridge which affords views of trains departing/arriving.
Extra video notes
Be aware that this is a fully urban location and a major transport interchange, so there will be general background noise.
General views - All photographs © John Patston unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking north
From the northern end of platform 4 - The up fast
Fig 2 - Looking south
Reverse of fig 1.
Fig 3 - Looking south
From the southern end of platform 4.
Fig 4 - Looking west
Taken from the adjacent car park.
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