West London Line

West London Line

The West London Line is a short railway linking Clapham Junction in the south to Willesden Junction in the north. It was built to enable trains to cross London.

The West Cross Route, one side of the Ringway 1 inner ring road, would have paralleled the West London Line.

Train services

Local trains run every half hour and are operated by London Overground, and hourly Southern trains run from Brighton or Gatwick Airport to Watford Junction, not stopping at Willesden Junction. The line also carries considerable freight and was used by Eurostar trains between Waterloo International and the depot at North Pole Junction prior to November 2007.

Recent timetable changes have meant that some London Overground peak hour trains now continue onto the North London Line (NLL), though these are not running during the partial closure of NLL in autumn 2008.

History of the line

The railway between Wormwood Scrubs and Shepherds Bush opened in 1844. It came to prominence as an avoiding line facilitating through-running on the west side of London, especially for freight:
* The "West London Joint Railway" (WLJR) owned by the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the London and North Western Railway (L&NWR)
* The "West London Extension Joint Railway": GWR/L&NWR/London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR)/London and South Western Railway (L&SWR)

The West London Railway was originally called the Birmingham, Bristol & Thames Junction Railway, authorised in 1836 to run from the London and Birmingham Railway across the proposed route of the Great Western, to the Kensington Canal Basin. Trials to show off the potential of the atmospheric railway system were held from 1840 to 1843 on a half-mile section of track adjacent to Wormwood Scrubs, leased to the system's promoters; [Samuda, J. D'A (1841), " [http://books.google.ie/books?id=RuMEJzNT5-0C&dq=birmingham,+bristol+and+thames+junction+railway&pg=PA8&ots=vFMoC5bVXD&sig=I_iM2zFHL_GA8jZXW9SGBhT7qq4&prev=http://www.google.ie/search%3Fsourceid%3Dnavclient%26ie%3DUTF-8%26rls%3DGGLG,GGLG:2007-15,GGLG:en%26q%3Dbirmingham%252C%2Bbristol%2Band%2Bthames%2Bjunction%2Brailway&sa=X&oi=print&ct=result&cd=2 A Treatise on the Adaptation of Atmospheric Pressure to the Purposes of Locomotion on Railways.] ] " London: John Weale, 59 High Holburn.] but in the event the line itself proceeded with conventional power. Construction was delayed by a number of problems, both engineering and financial, but renamed the West London Railway the line officially opened on 27 May, 1844, with regular services beginning on 10 June. It was not a commercial success. The minimal level of passenger returns became such a regular target of "Punch" magazine that the line started being called "Punch's Railway"; and after less than six months it closed entirely on 30 November. An Act of 1845 authorised the Great Western and the London and Birmingham to take out a joint lease of the West London line, but passenger services were not restarted, and the line was used only to carry coal. A further Act in 1859 released the companies to fill in the canal from the Kensington basin as far south as the bridge over the Kings Road, and to construct the West London Extension Joint Railway to meet the lines south of the river at Clapham Junction. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50329 The Kensington Canal, railways and related developments] , "Survey of London": volume 42: Kensington Square to Earl's Court (1986), pp. 322-338. Date accessed: 2 September 2008.] The line re-opened on 2 March 1863 with a new passenger station at Kensington, and was then well used by a variety of Outer Circle and other services for the remainder of the nineteenth century.

The northern section of the line, from Willesden Junction to Earls Court via Kensington Olympia, was electrified by LNWR in 1915, but use of the line dwindled with the construction of the deep-level Underground network, and passenger services were discontinued after bomb damage in 1940. [cite web
title =LNWR Electrification
publisher =Suburban Electric Railway Association
date =2007
url =http://www.emus.co.uk/zone/lnwr/lnwr.htm
accessdate =2007-02-01
] The line remained in service as an important freight link, and passenger services were subsequently resumed on 1 June 1999, with new platforms at West Brompton. The line is electrified at 750 V DC third rail from the south to the North Pole depot, where the electrification changes to 25 kV AC overhead). The work was carried out as part of Channel Tunnel infrastructure improvements in 1993.

The route

This description of the line gives, from north to south, former and current details including links with all the constituent railways:

* Willesden Junction
WLL trains use the high level station on the North London Line. There is interchange with the Bakerloo Line and Watford DC Line.
* "West London Junction"
The line separates from the North London Line.
* "North Pole Junction"
End-on junction; connection to former Eurostar North Pole depot, which is parallel to the GWR main line. The WLJR proper starts here. A limited CrossCountry service between Reading and Brighton uses the unelectrified connection with the Great Western Main Line.
* St. Quintin Park and Wormwood Scrubs (closed)
* Shepherd's Bush New station on the site of the former Uxbridge Road station, opened September 2008. Interchange with Central Line, and new bus station under construction.
* Kensington (Olympia) (formerly Addison Road)
Interchange with the District Line
* "West London Extension Junction"
End-on junction connecting the two parts of the Line; here also were extensive goods yards owned by LNWR and GWR
* West Brompton
Interchange with District Line
* Chelsea & Fulham (closed)
Here was a goods line to Chelsea Basin
* Imperial Wharf (planned)
New station under construction
* "Cremorne Bridge"
Here the Line crosses the River Thames
* Battersea High Street (closed)
* "Latchmere Junctions"
With connections to the L&SWR and LB&SCR
* Clapham Junction
Interchange with other National Rail lines and the proposed western extension of the East London Line


Further reading

*Harvard reference | Surname=Nisbet | Given=A F. | Authorlink=Alistair Nisbet | Title=Punch's Railway and the Winkle Railway | Journal=BackTrack | Volume=20 | Issue=2 Feb) | Year=2006 Page=117 to 121 .
* Thomas Faulkner (1839), " [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=EZULAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR16&lpg=PR16&dq=Birmingham,+Bristol+%26+Thames+Junction+Railway&source=web&ots=SAMWnrXS9-&sig=Pr__dFrPPKHITKyt0a2QXUE5qD0&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA65,M1 The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Hammersmith] ", pp 65-68.

External links

* [http://www.westlondonlinegroup.org.uk/ West London Line Group] Group representing the interests of users of the West London Line
* [http://www.abandonedstations.org.uk/West_London_Line.html West London Line] abandonedstations.org.uk

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