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It ran from the Eastern Counties Railway at Stratford to Bishops Startford.
The N&ER was part of an 1836 scheme for a railway in Great Britain from Islington to York via Cambridge, Peterborough and Lincoln. An Act of 1839/40 abandoned the section north of Bishop's Stortford and introduced a deviation from Tottenham to Stratford.
Service began on the 15 September 1840 between Stratford & Broxbourne, thence to Spelbrook in 1841. An extension to Bishops Stortford was opened on 16 May 1842 with a branch line to Hertford via Ware opening on 31 October 1843. In 1843 the line was carried to Newport, and on July 30th, 1845, to Brandon. On the latter date the line from Norwich was also brought into use and - by means of the Yarmouth and Norwich, opened on May 1st, 1844 - provided railway communication between London and Yarmouth.
1844 The Railway was leased to the Eastern Counties Railway and that railway began operating services on 1 January.
1862 The Eastern Counties Railway was merged into the Great Eastern Railway (GER) on 1 July 1862 but the Northern and Eastern Railway survived as a private company until being merged into the GER in 1902.
Like its partner, the N&ER was originally built to five-foot gauge, which was converted to standard gauge in 1844.