Bexleyheath line

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Bexleyheath Line
Falconwood Station east of Eltham - geograph.org.uk - 986544.jpg
Overview
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operating
Locale Greater London
Termini Lewisham
Dartford
Operation
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Southeastern
Rolling stock British Rail Class 376
British Rail Class 465
British Rail Class 466
Technical
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
Route map
Charing Cross London Underground
South Eastern Main Line
Lewisham Docklands Light Railway
South Eastern Main Line
to Dover
Blackheath
North Kent Line
via Woolwich Arsenal
Kidbrooke Tunnel
Kidbrooke
Eltham Well Hall
Eltham
Eltham Park
Falconwood
Welling
Bexleyheath
Barnehurst
North Kent Line
via Woolwich Arsenal
Slade Green
River Cray
Dartford Loop Line
to Sidcup and the SEML
Dartford
Dartford Carriage Sidings
North Kent Line
Down arrow to Rochester

The Bexleyheath Line runs for 8 miles (13 km) from Lewisham to Dartford in Kent. It separates from the North Kent Line just to the east of Blackheath Station, and rejoins the same line just South of Slade Green in Dartford.

History[edit]

The line was first proposed in 1881, when Squire Jones, of East Wickham, organised a petition to persuade South Eastern Railway to build a railway to Bexleyheath.[1] This led to the formation, on 20 August 1883,[2] of the Bexley Heath Railway Company, led by railway engineer Alfred Bean (owner of Danson House),[3] composed of local land-owners seeking to raise the value of their land for housing development.[4] The company secured an Act of Parliament to build the line in 1883, routed via Lee.[1] However, this was followed by disputes between the two companies, and disagreements over the final route, and in 1887 another act was passed authorising the construction of a line along a new route, via Blackheath, including the construction of a 1.6 km tunnel at the eastern entrance to Blackheath station.[1] The project subsequently fell into financial difficulties, and it was not until 1891 that work on the line finally commenced, with the construction contact awarded to a Mr Rigby.[1]

After yet another delay due to a landslide at Blackheath in 1894,[1] the Bexleyheath Line was finally opened on 1 May 1895,[1][4] running 12 trains per day to and from Charing Cross.[4] The opening day was marked by a brass band marching from Bexleyheath to Barnehurst stations, before returning by train.[4] Shareholders of the new line included: Charles Beadle, a coal and corn merchant; George Mence Smith, oil trader and hardware store owner; and Alfred Bean.[4] However, the company soon went into bankruptcy, and in 1900 South Eastern Railway - who had previously refused to build a line to serve the area between the two lines - was forced to take over.[2]

The line originally included five stations: Kidbrooke, Eltham Well Hall, Welling, Bexleyheath and Barnehurst, all rudimentary wooden structures.[1] A more elaborate station was opened at Eltham Park in 1908 to cater for first-class ticket holders from the Eltham Park Estate.[1] The line was electrified with the other South Eastern and Chatham Railway local routes to Dartford on 6 June 1926 by Southern Railway.[5] Having initially been built to serve very rural areas, Well Hall, Welling, Bexleyheath and Barnehurst were rebuilt in 1932 to cater for the huge suburban expansion into the area of the 1930s,[1] and Falconwood was added in 1936.[1]

On 11 June 1972, a train derailed on a sharp curve at Eltham Well Hall station, resulting in 5 deaths and 126 injuries.[6]

Kidbrooke station was rebuilt in the 1970s as a glass and concrete structure.[1] In 1985 the new Eltham railway station replaced the two existing stations serving Eltham, Well Hall station and Shooters Hill & Eltham Park station.[7] The change coincided with the opening of the Rochester Relief Road which forms part of the A2 road.[8]

Service patterns[edit]

December 2010[edit]

Off-peak & Saturday:

From 11 December 2011 the Barnehurst service continued to Slade Green and returned to London Cannon Street.[9]

Evenings & Sunday:

From January 2015[edit]

Due to the Thameslink Programme causing Southeastern to make modifications to its timetable, it has been proposed that the following service pattern will operate.[10]

Off-peak & Saturday

Evenings:

  • 2tph between London Charing Cross & Dartford
  • 2tph between London Victoria & Dartford

Sundays:

  • 2tph between London Victoria & Dartford

From August 2016[edit]

Due to the Thameslink Programme causing Southeastern to make more modifications to its timetable, the line is expected to have some minor changes.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Bexleyheath Line". Bexley.gov.uk. 
  2. ^ a b "Bexley Heath Railway". National Archives. 
  3. ^ "Danson House". Bexley.gov.uk. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bexleyheath Line". Bexley Historical Society. 
  5. ^ "The Growth of the Southern Electric Group". Southern Electric Group. 
  6. ^ "Report on the Derailment that occurred on 11 June 1972 at Eltham (Well Hall) Station" (PDF). 
  7. ^ "Domesday Reloaded". BBC. 
  8. ^ "Station Name: ELTHAM PARK". 
  9. ^ "December 2011 timetable changes" (Press release). Southeastern Railways. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "January 2015 Draft Timetable" (Press release). Southeastern Railways. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.