Along the Branch
Our branch winds its way through some of Essex's finest countryside, tackling steep gradients as it goes. Each of our stations and stops is unique, and serve great rural locations. What's more, you can enjoy it all from your seat aboard your train, experiencing what it would have been like for passengers to travel on the line all those years ago...
It may be the end of our line, but could be the start of your journey. For those coming in via London Underground, we operate vintage buses from right outside Epping Station, which whisk you away to pick up the train at one of our beautifully restored stations.
Meanwhile, with just 100 metres between the end of our running line and the end of the Central Line, our trains terminate in nearby rich woodland, which boasts a diverse selection of wildlife. An extension project is realistic and achievable, and the EOR is keen to work with other stakeholders to enable a new platform to be built to the immediate north-east of the existing station, and to be a viable and attractive interchange both for visitors and local people to use our services.
Meanwhile, the return train journey travels through the woodland, and passes wide open fields and the village of Coopersale. It also runs beneath the M11 Motorway; when built in 1973, it only allowed clearance for the Tube trains which operated the branch. When heritage operations wanted to commence, the track needed to be lowered by three feet to accommodate the change in rolling stock.
This 'shuttle' journey is usually operated by one of our heritage Multiple Units, but during the Summer months you can enjoy a steam-hauled trip into the forest. See our timetables for more information.
The main operating hub of our railway, North Weald is where our workshops and motive power depot are based. Once in a state of disrepair, our volunteers have worked hard to restore the station to 1940s LNER condition, complete with period lamps, footbridge and signage. The original 1888 signal box and lever frame, located on Platform 1, has also been attended to and restored.
Break your journey here and enjoy a light bite in the “Anglia Buffet” coach, or browse the well-stocked gift shop and find that perfect souvenir of your visit.
Alternately, jump aboard one of our many vintage buses and travel out to Epping, Ongar or Shenfield in vintage style and comfort.
Join the public footpath and take a stroll through the beautiful Essex countryside
Nearby North Weald Bassett is small village, with local amenities and pubs serving a wide range of fine food and drink. The Airfield Museum is located a short walk away, and also hosts a weekly Saturday car boot market - one of the largest in the country.
Roughly half way between North Weald and Ongar stands the former Blake Hall station, which was closed by London Underground on 31st October 1981. Although the building remained, the platform was removed by LT when they heard that, despite the formal closure, some trains were still dropping off passengers. The platform has now been reinstated, though the building is now a privately owned house. As such, visitors are unable to board or alight here.
Nearby is one of the many local footpaths, which crosses the line in a cutting just East of the road bridge. A little further in the same direction is a second foot crossing. Both of these connect to 'The Essex Way' and offer great vantage points for photographers - remember to be respectful of private farmland and properties; check out 'Street Map' or our dedicated Walks guidebook to explore the routes of these footpaths.
At the opposite end of the line is our award-winning and Grade II listed Great Eastern Railway station, believed to be the only original operating station to retain GER colours. During restoration, the colours were painstakingly researched and scientifically measured to ensure an exact match was produced. LU features have been removed, exposing the original architectural features, and modern fittings have been suitably designed and sourced so as to blend in to the 1880s atmosphere as seamlessly as possible.
Inside the building is situated the “Buffer Stop” buffet, which offers a selection of hot and cold drinks and confectionaries to enjoy between trains. There is also a small gift shop you can peruse, which offers a selection of books, toys, model railways and more!
At the other end of the platform is an original GER signal box, which was previously sited at Spellbrook. This houses the original Ongar lever frame, which is back doing its intend work of controlling train movements into, out of and around the station.
Meanwhile, Chipping Ongar itself is a historic market town, with good selection of shops, pubs, restaurants and historic buildings; the high street still contains many small independent shops.
Also nearby is the ‘Essex Way’ footpath, which covers 82 miles between Harwich and Epping. Along its route, it passes through vast woodland, fields and picturesque historic villages.
Did you know - all distances on the Central Line are still measured from Ongar? There's a LU distance marker mounted by the buffer stops showing the starting distance of 0.0km.
A full history of the line can be found in our updated guide book, which will be available soon.
We also run frequent vintage buses on all operating days. These connect Epping Underground and Shenfield Main Line Stations to our own Ongar and North Weald.
Route 339 is the primary route, operating majoritarily between Epping and North Weald via the B181 (Epping Road), with some services running on to Ongar via Blake Hall Gardens and Zinc Arts Centre, before terminating outside 'The Two Brewers' pub.
In addition to this, we have also started running services on to Shenfield Station, making getting to our railway even easier for visitors travelling long distances. This route passes Brentwood High Street, and passengers can board and alight from all bus stops along the way.
During the Summer months we run route 381, which also connects North Weald and Epping, travelling out via Blake Hall and Toot Hill. Check our timetables and leaflet for information on when this service is operating.
The buses can also be used by non-railway visitors for a single fare; check with the conductor for the cost of this, which is dependant on your destination.