Watford DC Line

Watford DC Line
Watford DC Line

378210 at Watford Junction with a service from London Euston.
Type Commuter rail, Rapid transit
System National Rail
London Underground
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
Termini London Euston
Watford Junction
Stations 19
Services 2
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) London Overground
London Underground (Bakerloo line)
Depot(s) Stonebridge Park (LUL)
Willesden TMD
Rolling stock Class 378 "Capitalstar"
London Underground 1972 Stock
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge Standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
[v · d · e]Watford DC Line
DC line is the central straight line
Continuation backward
West Coast Main Line
Straight track Continuation backward
Abbey Line to St Albans Abbey
Right side head station of cross-platform interchange Middle of cross-platform interchange Left side of cross-platform interchange
Watford Junction
Straight track Junction from left Track turning right
Junction from left Junction to right
Stop on track Straight track
Watford High Street
Unknown BSicon "exCONTr" Unknown BSicon "eABZgr+r" Straight track
Rickmansworth branch and Croxley Green branch
Straight track Straight track
Closed 1952 and 1996 respectively
Right side of cross-platform interchange Left side of cross-platform interchange
Stop on track Straight track
Carpenders Park
Stop on track Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Hatch End
Stop on track Straight track
Headstone Lane
Unknown BSicon "INTCPICl" Left side of cross-platform interchange
Harrow & Wealdstone London Underground
Straight track Straight track
Bakerloo Line terminates
Straight track Unknown BSicon "eABZlf" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
Branch to Stanmore, closed 1964
Interchange on track Straight track
Kenton London Underground
Unknown BSicon "uCONTr" Unknown BSicon "mKRZu" Unknown BSicon "mKRZu" Unknown BSicon "uCONTl"
Metropolitan Line
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Continuation to right
London to Aylesbury Line
Interchange on track Straight track
South Kenton London Underground
Interchange on track Straight track
North Wembley London Underground
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Continuation to right
Chiltern Main Line
Unknown BSicon "INTCPICl" Left side of cross-platform interchange
Wembley Central London Underground
Track turning from left Transverse track Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Track turning right
Straight track Straight track Unknown BSicon "uKDSTa"
Stonebridge Park Depot (LUL)
Straight track Straight track Unknown BSicon "uWECHSEL"
Straight track Junction from left Track turning right
Straight track Interchange on track
Stonebridge Park London Underground
Unknown BSicon "AKRZo" Unknown BSicon "AKRZo"
North Circular Road
Straight track Interchange on track
Harlesden London Underground
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Transverse track Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Continuation to right
Dudding Hill Line
Junction to left Transverse track Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Continuation to right
North London Line
Unknown BSicon "eHST" Interchange on track
Willesden Junction London Underground
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Transverse track Tower station on transverse bridge over straight track Continuation to right
West & North London Lines
Junction to left Track turning from right Junction to left Continuation to right
North London Line
Continuation to left Junction to right Junction from left Junction to right
West London Line
Straight track Non-passenger station/depot on track Straight track
Willesden TMD
Junction from left Track turning right Straight track
Enter and exit tunnel Enter and exit tunnel
Straight track Interchange on track
Kensal Green London Underground
Enter and exit tunnel Enter and exit tunnel
Straight track Track turning from left Junction to right
Straight track Unknown BSicon "WECHSEL" Straight track
Straight track Urban non-passenger station/depot on track Straight track
Queen's Park north sheds (LUL)
Stop on track + Hub
Right side of urban cross-platform interchange + Hub
Left side of cross-platform interchange + Hub
Queen's Park London Underground
Straight track Enter urban tunnel Straight track
Bakerloo Line
Straight track Unknown BSicon "utCONTf" Stop on track
Kilburn High Road
Straight track Stop on track
South Hampstead
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Transverse track Unknown BSicon "KRZu" Continuation to right
London to Aylesbury Line/Chiltern Main Line
Enter and exit tunnel Enter and exit tunnel
Straight track Junction to left Track turning from right
Track turning left Transverse track Junction from right Unknown BSicon "eHST"
Primrose Hill (1855-1992)
Straight track Track turning left Continuation to right
North London Line
Non-passenger head station Straight track
Carriage sidings
Track turning left Junction from right
Bridge over water
Grand Union Canal
Enter and exit tunnel
Track turning from left Junction to right
Non-passenger end station Straight track
Carriage sidings
End station
London Euston London Underground

The Watford DC Line is a commuter railway line from London Euston to Watford Junction. Services on the line are operated by London Overground. The line runs beside the West Coast Main Line (WCML) for most of its length. The London Underground Bakerloo line shares the track of the line from Queen's Park to Harrow & Wealdstone. The London Overground rolling stock used on the line is Class 378 "Capitalstar".

The line is electrified with direct current, hence its name in contrast to the overhead alternating current of the adjacent WCML.



Services on this line began when London and North Western Railway (LNWR) completed the Camden to Watford Junction New Line in 1922, to provide additional suburban capacity and more outer-suburban services running non-stop to Euston. It incorporated part of the LNWR Rickmansworth branch (formerly the Watford and Rickmansworth Railway) between Watford Junction and Watford High Street Junction and part of the original Slow Main Line between Queen's Park and South Hampstead stations; two single-track tunnels take the line from South Hampstead to Camden, whence the line reaches Euston station by the main line tracks. Prior to 1922, at which time the entire route was finally electrified, services were steam operated. Although the operation of the line is mostly self-contained, connections at Watford Junction and Camden allow other trains on to it, a facility used occasionally with trains diverted from the West Coast Main Line should an alternative diversionary route be not available.


The line opened with conventional semaphore signalling mechanically operated from signal boxes at each station; this system remained in use after electrification.
The London, Midland and Scottish Railway introduced an automatic electric signalling system in the early 1930s over most of the route and some signal boxes were abolished. A similar system was also used for a shorter period between Bromley-by-Bow and Upminster now part of the District line. The very closely spaced mix of automatic and semi-automatic signals, repeater signals, and auxiliary calling-on aspects was intended to let trains to proceed, after a set delay, at low speed past "failed" signals on track with no junctions without the need to contact a signalman, but this could lead to a nose-to-tail queue of trains as they all reached the location of a real line blockage.

Train stops were provided (except at repeater signals) to allow LER trains to operate over the line without the special provision of a second man; this enabled the same practice to be continued with all other Underground and main line stock subsequently allocated to this line and which was provided with trip equipment.

Signal boxes remaining in use in the early 1970s included:

  • Kilburn High Road (closed when the crossover moved to the down side of the station)
  • Queens Park No.3 (closed when control passed to Willesden)
  • Willesden New Station
  • Stonebridge Power House (abolished after LU Bakerloo Line depot opened)
  • Harrow No.2

Normally Kilburn High Road and Stonebridge Power House which controlled only plain track with crossovers were switched out and only Queens Park, Willesden and Harrow boxes were staffed for at least part of the day, to deal with junction and siding traffic. In the early 1980s manual control of signalling was needed for a few months after dragging gear on a train destroyed many electric train-stops which were of a design almost confined to this line (LU train-stops are mostly electro-pneumatic). By this time the signal boxes at Stonebridge Power House and Kilburn High Road had been abolished. Emergency crossovers at other locations were controlled by ground frames enclosed in structures the size of a garden shed.

In 1988 the LMS system was replaced by a more standard system controlled from a new signal box, Willesden Suburban, and the remaining local boxes were abolished. The new system had solid state interlocking, but far fewer signals; as a consequence the maximum traffic capacity of the line was severely reduced. In the early 1960s there were headways of less than 2 minutes between Harrow & Wealdstone and Willesden Junction stations, the section of line used by nearly all services.

In the early 2000s Willesden Suburban was closed and control passed to Wembley Main Line Signalling Centre.


An Oerlikon electric train at Harrow and Wealdstone (1956)

The original electrification was on a fourth rail system, similar to that now used by London Underground, which allowed LER trains to use the New Line. Power was supplied from the railway's own power station at Stonebridge Park until the 1960s when it was closed, after which it has been obtained from public supplies. As originally installed, there was provision for interconnection of the high voltage section of the power station to adjacent public supplies for output or intake but this ceased when national supplies were standardised at 50Hz. This power station was used for both internal and external scenes in an early episode of the BBC series Doctor Who in which the building can be seen substantially as it was at the time of closure but after the wooden cooling towers had been removed.[citation needed]

In the 1970s, the track and the rolling stock used on this line and the North London Line were changed to use a modified version of the BR standard third rail system, with the fourth rail (now bonded to the running rail used for returning traction current) left in place on the sections of line shared with LU Bakerloo Line trains. North of Harrow & Wealdstone, now the limit of LU operation, the fourth rail has in most places been dropped on to the sleepers and remains bonded, thus leaving the resistance of the current return path unaltered The fourth rail remains in the normal position from Queens Park to Kilburn High Road Up platform, where a trailing crossover between those two stations is maintained in use to allow reversal of Bakerloo Line trains unable to gain access to London Underground at Queens Park, due to planned work or other reasons. The line is currently electrified at 600 volts DC which provides reasonable compatibility with the 630 volt Bakerloo line stock.

A consequence of converting to third rail with the fourth rail provided only for LU use was that both planned and emergency use of the line by other 3-rail-capable trains was possible. Ignoring recent use of class 508 trains, this last took place when class 416 trains were diverted to Willesden Junction Low Level station when part of the North London Line was closed for a number of weeks in the late 1980s.

The electricity grid Willesden substation in Acton Lane, Park Royal supplies 11 kV, three-phase power to ten substations on the line, located at Camden, South Hampstead, Queens Park, Willesden, Harlesden, Wembley, Kenton, Harrow, Hatch End, Bushey and Watford.


The construction of a curve to link Rickmansworth (Church Street) to the Euston main line was planned. A new line would have then run south to Wembley, then passed under the main line and run on the east side to Euston, terminating in a loop.[citation needed]

The loop was dropped on grounds of cost and, instead, services terminated at Euston main platforms or ran on the North London Railway to Broad Street. Pressure from local groups led to the building of a curve near Bushey, diverting the main route for new services over the existing branch line north to Watford Junction instead of south to Rickmansworth. In 1917 LER Bakerloo Line services were extended over the New Line from Queen's Park station to Watford Junction.


Bakerloo Line services were cut back in stages and ceased north of Stonebridge Park station in 1982; in 1984 they were restored as far as Harrow and Wealdstone.

The Croxley Green branch fell into disuse in the 1990s, and is now derelict. It is planned to divert the Metropolitan Line over the branch and on to Watford Junction (for more information see Croxley Rail Link). Some clearance or preparatory work has been reported [1] as having occurred in late 2006.


The line was operated by British Rail (from 1986 as Network SouthEast) until privatisation. From March 1997 until November 2007, the line was operated by Silverlink.

In November 2007 Transport for London (TfL) took full management control of all the intermediate Watford DC Line stations as part of the London Overground (LO) service with staffing during opening hours, automatic ticket gates and planned station refurbishment to the standard of the Tube network.


An Overground train calls at Harlesden
The line is also shared with London Underground

The local passenger services which over the DC line are:

  • Watford Junction to Euston, operated by London Overground; services run through Watford High Street and all stations to Euston; at Willesden Junction trains stop at the low-level platforms;
  • Harrow & Wealdstone or Stonebridge Park to Queen's Park, operated by London Underground; these services share track with Overground services as far as Queen's Park, before branching off onto dedicated track on the LUL Bakerloo Line, via central London to Elephant and Castle.

During the partial closure of the North London Line in autumn 2008, London Overground's Monday to Saturday services were diverted away from Euston, running instead via Camden Road onto the North London Line and on to Stratford; the Sunday service was normal.

London Midland also run a fast service from Watford direct to London Euston along the West Coast Mainline (which runs parallel to the Watford DC Line), usually calling at Bushey and Harrow & Wealdstone before running non-stop to Euston. The service offers a quicker alternative to the all-stations London Overground service, especially as the operator now accepts TfL's Oystercard ticketing. At Watford Junction, Watford - Euston services are advertised as terminating at South Hampstead, in order to persuade passengers for Euston to take the frequent faster services. The opposite does not apply at Euston.

Discontinued services

Past services, all of which closed in the 1980s and 1990s, have included:

When the south curve of the triangular junction between Watford High Street and Bushey existed, a few trains used Croxley depot (now demolished), which was shared by LU and BR trains.


Bakerloo Line

This map depicts what the London Overground network will look like if the Bakerloo Line is extended to Watford Junction. The Watford line of the Overground would be discontinued.[2].

It is proposed that the Bakerloo Line will be re-extended to Watford Junction by 2030. If this happens, the Overground services north of Kilburn will probably be terminated.

The Autumn 2006 document from TfL, "A Rail Strategy for London's Future", said that the plan was eventually to transfer the Watford DC Line north of Harrow & Wealdstone back to the Bakerloo Line,[3] effectively ending the Watford DC Line. The London Overground service may then operate from Queen's Park to Primrose Hill Junction, serving South Hampstead and Kilburn High Road; from there using the currently freight-only line to Camden Road (potentially leading to the re-opening of the disused Primrose Hill station for interchange with Chalk Farm on the Northern line); and onwards to Stratford via the North London Line.[4] However, this will mean losing a direct link from the Bakerloo Line's main railway to Euston station, as DC trains would be withdrawn between Primrose Hill Junction and Euston.

A date has not yet been specified for this change; prospective tube maps illustrating the future of London Overground and Underground services continue to show the Watford line as part of the Overground network in 2010.[5]

Metropolitan Line

A diagram of the proposed rail services

Another proposal to bring London Underground service to Watford Junction is the Croxley Rail Link, which envisages diverting the Watford branch of the Metropolitan Line along a re-opened stretch of track to the west of Watford, effectively reinstating the former Croxley Green to Watford Junction service. Underground trains would then join the DC line at Watford High Street, potentially forming an interchange either with London Overground or the Bakerloo line, depending on the outcome of other projects.

Line gallery


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Watford DC Line — Watford Junction–London Euston Spurweite: 1435 mm (Normalspur) Stromsystem: 750 V = Zweigleisigkeit: ja Legende …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Watford — This article is about the town in Hertfordshire. For other uses, see Watford (disambiguation). For the council, see Watford Borough Council. Watford   Town and Borough   Borough of Watford …   Wikipedia

  • Watford and Rickmansworth Railway — The Watford and Rickmansworth Railway Company (WRR) was a short lived company that ran services between Watford and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, England. It was incorporated in 1860 and the line actually opened in 1862. Lord Ebury s railway In …   Wikipedia

  • Watford High Street railway station — Infobox London station name = Watford High Street code = WFH manager = London Overground zone = 8 locale = Watford borough = Watford platforms = 2 railexits0405=0.490 railexits0506=0.458 railexits0607=0.496 years = 1862 1917 1982 events = Opened… …   Wikipedia

  • Watford tube station — Watford is a station at the end of the Watford branch of London Underground s Metropolitan Line in the north western part of the network in Zone 7, previously zone A. Location and description The station is in Cassiobury Park Avenue, at the… …   Wikipedia

  • Watford Cheetahs — American Football Club Current season …   Wikipedia

  • Watford Locks — (gbmapping|SP592688) is a group of seven locks on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal, close to the village of Watford in Northamptonshire, England, famous for the Watford Gap service area.The locks are formed (looking from the south), of …   Wikipedia

  • Watford Junction railway station — Infobox UK station name = Watford Junction manager = London Midland locale = Watford borough = Watford code = WFJ platforms = 10 (4 DC Line (bays), 4 Main Line, 1 Southern (bay), 1 St. Albans Line) usage0405 = 4.066 usage0506 = 4.244 usage0607 =… …   Wikipedia

  • Watford Gap — This article is about Watford Gap, a geographical location. For the larger town 80 km (50 mi) south, see Watford. For the nearby village, see Watford, Northamptonshire. Watford Gap: West Coast Main Line and M1 motorway in parallel The… …   Wikipedia

  • Watford West railway station — Closed London stations name = Watford West owner = LNWR locale = Watford platforms = 1 start = 1912 end = 1996 (not officially) replace = none coordinates= coord|51.648546|N|0.414315|W|display=title,inlineWatford West is a disused but closed open …   Wikipedia