The line opened as far as Kingston on 1 July 1863 from a flat junction west of Twickenham station. The line on to the station now named "New Malden" was opened in 1869. The Shepperton Branch was built in 1864 with its connection facing Twickenham, Strawberry Hill station was not opened until 1 December 1873. The connection at Twickenham was converted to a flying junction in 1882. The Shepperton Branch chord towards Teddington opened for freight on 1 July 1894 and was first used by passenger trains on 1 June 1901. The engine depot built inside the triangular junction in 1897 is now a base for Siemens to maintain EMUs for South West Trains, currently classes 450.
Teddington, Kingston and Norbiton stations had adjacent goods yards. That at Malden or Coombe and Malden, as it was called before 1957, was accessed from the Kingston Loop as the station itself is on an embankment with the Loop Line junction grade-separated from the start. A long west-facing bay platform at Kingston has been used for past curtailments of the Shepperton service and allows reversal of trains coming via Twickenham when there is a closure east of Kingston of either the loop or the main line.
The line was electrified by the L&SWR on the third rail system at 630 volts in 1916.