he original station was opened in 1839 by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway on its original route from Derby to Hampton-in-Arden meeting the London and Birmingham Railway for London.
In 1881 the old station was demolished and a temporary island platform constructed. A new station was constructed 150 yards further south and separated from the roadway on the bridge by iron palisading. There was a large covered cab-stand, which offered access to the booking hall, 65ft wide, 27 ft deep and 35ft high in "early English style, partly timbered. The stairs provided access to the island platform on which were built waiting rooms for ladies and gentlemen, and a first-class refreshment and dining room and a third-class refreshment room. The platforms were covered with a glass canopy and extended close to one quarter of a mile in length. The station was designed by the company architect John Holloway Sanders and erected by Messrs Cox of Leicester. The bridge was constructed under the supervision of the company engineer, Mr. Campion. The new station re-opened in 1883.
The station was rebuilt yet again in 1971. The station, the railway sheds and the town's popular trainspotting locations feature significantly in the autobiographical book, Platform Souls by local author Nicholas Whittaker. Until the 1960s the station also served as the terminus for a number of secondary routes, such as the South Staffordshire Line to Lichfield City, the Leicester to Burton upon Trent Line to Leicester via Coalville Town and to Tutbury and Hatton. These all closed to passenger traffic between 1960 and 1965.
As a centre for beer brewing, Burton generated a great deal of freight traffic. In fact Burton itself was criss-crossed by the lines of the brewery companies' private lines, with a plethora of level crossings. In 1870 a new locomotive shed was built to the south of the station. This consisted of a roundhouse built round a 42-foot (13 m) turntable. In 1892 another roundhouse was added, with a 50-foot (15 m) turntable. In 1923 these were replaced by 57-foot (17 m) and 55-foot (17 m) turntables respectively. Originally coded "2" by the Midland Railway, it became 17B in 1935. By 1948 it had 111 locomotives allocated to it. With the arrival of diesel locomotives, a reorganisation of motive power districts in the London Midland Region took place in September 1963. Under this, the former Nottingham (16), Derby (17) and Toton (18) divisions were amalgamated, with Toton as the main shed for the division; this was coded 16A, and Burton-on-Trent became 16F. Steam traction was removed from this depot in September 1966, and it closed in 1968.
During the summer and autumn of 2011, the station underwent a £700,000 refurbishment, including removal of asbestos, improved disabled facilities, improved lighting and refurbished waiting room