Stratford station was opened on 20 June 1839 by the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR). The Northern and Eastern Railway opened a section of its authorised line from Broxbourne to join the ECR at Stratford on 15 September 1840. As well as a station, a railway works was built adjacent to the line to Broxbourne. This and the engine shed later expanded into the area to the west of the station which is now occupied by a shopping centre and Stratford International station. Services to Loughton commenced on 22 August 1856 and used the Lea Valley platforms, leaving the main line at Loughton Junction half a mile north of Stratford. Initially nine trains per day operated to Fenchurch Street (Bishopsgate on Sundays) on this route.
The Loughton branch was extended to Ongar on 24 April 1865 and by 1874 there were a total of 40 trains each day (10 terminating at Loughton, 18 at Epping and 12 at Ongar) with most serving the newly opened Liverpool Street although a few peak hour services continued to serve Fenchurch Street. The Fairlop Loop opened on 1 May 1903 and services generally ran as an out and back circle from either Liverpool Street or Fenchurch Street. The routing of these services was Liverpool Street - Stratford - Ilford - Fairlop Loop - Woodford - Stratford - Liverpool Street) and Liverpool Street - Stratford - Woodford - Fairlop Loop - Ilford - Stratford - Liverpool Street in the reverse direction. Central Line services started on 4 December 1946, extended from Liverpool Street station in new tunnels after being delayed due to the Second World War.
Platforms 3, 3A and 6 are used by the Central line, which rise from their tunnels onto the overground here and then immediately descend back underground upon departure from Stratford. Platforms 3 and 6 are island platforms providing cross-platform interchange with the local "Shenfield metro" trains operating from platforms 5 and 8 respectively, while platform 3A has a direct step-free connection at mezzanine level, facilitating easier interchange with Jubilee line trains on platforms 13 to 15 and DLR trains on platforms 4A and 4B. Westbound Central line trains travelling towards central London open doors on both sides so that passengers can alight and board trains from either side, reducing dwell times and peak-hour congestion in the passageways. The station has cash machines, Euro cash machines, lifts, toilets, boarding ramps, wi-fi, escalators and payphones.
Connections: Jubilee Line, Greater Anglia, TfL Rail, c2c, DLR/Docklands and London Overground. London Buses routes 25; 69, 86, 97, 104, 108, 158, 238 241, 257, 262, 276, 308, 339, 425, 473 and D8 serve the station with night routes N8, N86, N205.