Waterloo to Reading Line

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Waterloo to Reading Line
Egham Juniper Train.jpg
Type Commuter rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
South East England
Termini London Waterloo
Stations 26
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) South West Trains
Depot(s) Clapham Junction
Rolling stock Class 458 and Class 450
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 750V DC Third rail
Waterloo to Reading Line
0m 00ch London Waterloo London Underground London River Services
Vauxhall London Underground
Queenstown Road
West London Line
enlarge… Clapham Junction London Overground
South Western Main Line
Wandsworth Town
River Wandle
Point Pleasant Junction
District routeing used
by SWT diversions
District line (LU)
to Richmond • to Earl's Court
Barnes Junction
Vine Lane
link lifted
Hounslow Loop Line
White Hart Lane
Sheen Lane
North Sheen
North Sheen (Manor Road)
District line (LU) &
North London Line (LO )
link lifted
LU & LO share tracks
Richmond to Gunnersbury
Richmond London Underground London Overground
Richmond Railway Bridge
over River Thames
St Margarets
Kingston Loop Line
River Crane
Duke of Northumberland's River
Hounslow Loop Line
Whitton Junction
Hounslow Junction
Feltham Junction
River Crane
Feltham marshalling yard
14m 68ch
for Heathrow Airport
Longford River
Bedfont Lane
17m 40ch Ashford
19m 02ch Staines
Staines to Windsor & Eton Line
Staines Railway Bridge
over River Thames
Thorpe Lane
Pooley Green
M25 motorway
21m 02ch Egham
Virginia Water Cutting
23m 15ch Virginia Water
Chertsey Branch
25m 11ch Longcross
London Road
26m 71ch Sunningdale
28m 79ch Ascot
Ascot to Guildford Line
Ascot West Race Platform
31m 09ch Martins Heron
32m 24ch Bracknell
Waterloo Road
Star Lane
36m 34ch
61m 74ch
Milepost change
North Downs Line
62m 08ch Wokingham
M4 motorway
64m 10ch Winnersh
64m 72ch Winnersh Triangle
River Loddon
66m 01ch Earley
River Kennet
Great Western Main Line
to Paddington
Reading Southern(1855-1965)
68m 68ch Reading
Great Western Main Line
to Swansea

The Waterloo to Reading Line is a National Rail suburban electric railway line which runs between London Waterloo station and Reading railway station, running generally westwards from the UK capital, London, to Reading, in central Berkshire. It is operated by South West Trains (SWT).

With the connecting Hounslow Loop Line it forms the most northern line of the SWT franchise. Other connecting lines of the franchise are the Kingston Loop Line, the Chertsey Branch Line, the Ascot to Guildford Line, and the Staines to Windsor & Eton Line. With its many stations and suburban nature, it is a slower line than the Great Western Main Line.


The London and Southampton Railway opened the first stretch of railway between Nine Elms and Woking Common on the 12 May 1838, and renamed itself as the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) one month later. As the L&SWR continued extending its railway towards Southampton, the first branch was opened by the Richmond and West End Railway (R&WER) to Richmond on 27 July 1846.[1] This branch line started at what is now Clapham Junction, although the station itself did not open until 2 March 1863. The terminus at Nine Elms was replaced on 11 July 1948 with a new station at Waterloo, originally named as Waterloo Bridge. The Richmond branch was extended further west by the Windsor, Staines and South Western Railway (WS&SWR) opening as far as Datchet on 22 August 1848 and to Windsor on 1 December 1849. Both the R&WER and WS&SWR were purchased by the L&SWR before their respective lines had been completed.

The South Eastern Railway (SER) opened its line from Wokingham to Reading on 15 October 1849 under the auspices of the Reading, Guildford and Reigate Railway (RG&RR), which was then taken over by the SER in 1852.[2] This was part of the SER line from London to Reading via Guidlford and terminated at Reading Southern railway station, which was adjacent to, but separate from the Great Western Railway station at Reading.

The line linking Staines with Wokingham was authorised in 1853 and built by the Staines, Wokingham and Woking Junction Railway, opening from Staines to Ascot on 4 June 1856 and onwards to Wokingham on the 9 July 1856.[2] The line was operated by the L&SWR from the outset, who leased it from the owning company in 1858, before acquiring it outright in 1878. Initial services on the line was 6 trains a day between Waterloo and Reading (2 on Sundays), building up to 14 trains a day (7 on Sunday) by 1928.

The line was electrified on the DC third rail system, initially at 660 volts, in sections:

  • Waterloo to Twickenham flyover (for Kingston Loop) 30 January 1916
  • Twickenham to Whitton Junction (for Hounslow Loop) 12 March 1916
  • Whitton Junction to Windsor 6 July 1930[3]
  • Staines to Virginia Water 3 January 1937 as part of the electrification of lines to Portsmouth[2]
  • Virginia Water to Ascot and Reading South 1 January 1939.[2]
Reading station with Southern Region trains in 1979.

Early on Sunday 15 November 2009 the bridge carrying the line over the River Crane at Feltham partly collapsed. Services between Feltham and Whitton, and between Feltham and Hounslow, were suspended. They were restored eight days later on a temporary diversionary line with a 20 mph speed limit laid across the adjoining site of the disused Feltham Marshalling yard. The defective bridge was demolished and rebuilt.

Passenger Services and rolling stock[edit]

In the current SWT timetable, there are two trains per hour between Waterloo and Reading, every day of the week, stopping at Clapham Junction, Richmond, Twickenham, Feltham (for Heathrow Airport), Staines and then all stations to Reading, excluding Longcross. During peak hours, additional trains are run which skip Winnersh, Winnersh Triange and Earley, and add stops at Vauxhall and Ashford (Surrey). Longcross is served by an irregular peak hours only service, Monday to Friday.

Connecting lines add additional services on this line -

For many years, the rolling stock on this line was the class 458 4-coach units, marshalled in pairs, providing 8 coaches on all services. This stock is being replaced by class 450, also providing 8 coaches, as the Class 458 units are being converted to 5 coaches, using redundant class 460 units for use on the Waterloo to Windsor line. Failures of units sometimes result in 4-coach trains and there are also occasional substitutions using class 455 units.


Due to over-crowding on the line, a number of enhancements are underway to improve services. Most stations between Waterloo and Windsor are having platforms lengthened to allow the operation of 10 coach trains, using converted class 458 units.[4] Platform 20 at the former Waterloo International Terminal, came back into service in October 2013 to provide additional capacity [5] and additional trains have been ordered from Siemens to improve services,[6] although the exact services covered have not yet been detailed. On 20 November 2014, Network Rail published its Wessex Route Study for consultation,[7] which includes aspirations are to introduce 10 coach trains on services to Reading, and to open more of the platforms at Waterloo International, but neither of these are detailed schemes yet and will not be implemented before 2019.

On 24 March 2014, The Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership published a report showing the economic benefits of improvements to the Waterloo to Reading line.[8] This looked at the economic benefits of increasing services, speeding up services and adding access to Heathrow Airport, and concludedthat the benefits exceeded the costs of such improvements.


  1. ^ Mitchell, Vic and Smith, Keith (1988) Waterloo to Windsor, 1st ed, Middleton Press, Midhurst
  2. ^ a b c d Mitchell, Vic and Smith, Keith (1989) Branch lines around Ascot, 1st ed, Middleton Press, Midhurst
  3. ^ Marshall, C.F.D (1963) History of the Southern Railway, 2nd ed, Ian Allan, London p.413
  4. ^ "London commuters to benefit from longer peak time trains". 23 December 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "First significant step in re-opening Waterloo International". 23 October 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Passengers to benefit from £210m train order for UK's busiest commuter network". 3 September 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Wessex route study - draft for consultation". 20 November 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Building the economic case for rail investment". 24 March 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.