South London Line

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South London Line
Unit 378150 at Clapham High Street Dec 2012.JPG
A London Overground train at Clapham High Street
Type Commuter rail, Freight rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
Termini London Victoria
London Bridge
Stations 10
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) London Overground
Rolling stock Class 378 "Capitalstar"
Class 465 "Networker"
Class 466 "Networker"
Track gauge Standard gauge
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
South London Line
Victoria London Underground
Grosvenor Road LB&SC (1870-1907)
River Thames
Northern line extension (planned)
Stewarts Lane TMD
Battersea Park
Brighton Main Line
via Clapham Junction
to Clapham Junction London Overground or West London Line
South Western Main Line
◄ via Clapham Junction, ► to London Waterloo
For track detail at Clapham Junction see here
Wandsworth Road London Overground
Clapham High Street London Underground
Northern line
Clapham North
SLL Services don't stop at Brixton
Brixton London UndergroundVictoria line
Chatham Main Line
via Herne Hill
East Brixton (1866-1976)
Loughborough Junction
Thameslink line
Denmark Hill
Portsmouth Line
via Tulse Hill
Peckham Rye
Catford Loop Line
to Sevenoaks or Dartford via Lewisham
Queens Road Peckham London Overground
Old Kent Road (1866-1917)
East London Line
to New Cross, Crystal Palace & West Croydon
New Bermondsey (planned)
South Bermondsey
East London Line
to Highbury & Islington
Brighton Main Line
via New Cross Gate
South Eastern Main Line
via New Cross
London Bridge London Underground London River Services
South Eastern Main Line
to London Cannon Street
to Blackfriars
South Eastern Main Line
to London Charing Cross

The South London Line is an 8.5-mile (13.7 km) horseshoe-shaped Inner London railway from Victoria to London Bridge via Peckham Rye.

The line is in Travelcard Zone 2 apart from the termini, in Zone 1.

Until December 2012, Southern operated a half-hourly passenger service between London Bridge and Victoria.

As part of the project to create an orbital railway around London, most of the South London Line was incorporated into the London Overground network.[1] The Southern service ceased on 9 December 2012 and westbound services were diverted from Victoria to Clapham Junction, while eastbound trains now join the East London Line instead of terminating at London Bridge.[2][3] Services travelling north from East Dulwich continue to use the eastern portion of the line from Peckham Rye to London Bridge.

A short section of the line between Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street was used by Eurostar when trains ran from London Waterloo International. As they have had their third rail shoes removed in 2007, they can no longer use this line. Eurostar trains now use the terminus at St Pancras International via the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.


The London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) was authorised to build the line by the South London Railway Act 1862. Designed and engineered under Frederick Banister,[4] it re-used the Wandsworth Road to Brixton section built as part of the LCDR main line. This line was quadrupled and extended to London Bridge. The northern pair (now the Chatham lines), with no stations, was used by the LCDR; the southern (now the Atlantic lines) was used by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR). Several stations were shared by the two companies.

The LBSCR scheme, authorised in 1903, pioneered main-line rail electrification in the UK, and the first electric train ran on 1 December 1909. For the following three years, steam trains alternated with electrics, the latter operating a 15-minute interval service from 7.30am to midnight. Passenger numbers had falling dramatically following the opening of electric tramways in South London - by 1.25 million in only six months - but in the first year of electric operation, passengers almost doubled, from 4 million to 7.5 million.[citation needed] The electrification used the overhead system at 6700 V AC, supplied by a power station at Deptford. The line was converted to Southern Railway standard third-rail 660 V DC on 17 June 1928.

East London Line extension[edit]

Map of the East London line extension

In 2012 a 2.5-kilometre (1.6 mi) diversion was made at the eastern end, connecting it to the East London Line, a former London Underground line which was reconverted to main line operation as part of phase 2 of the East London line extension project. The diversion used an alignment between Rotherhithe and Peckham that had been disused since 1911, via Old Kent Road station. The link allows trains to run from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction via Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road. Completion was originally scheduled for May 2012 in time for the London 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games,[5][6] but the actual opening date was 9 December 2012.[7]

The East London line connects to the North London line at Highbury & Islington, completing an orbital rail route around Central London, fulfilling the Orbirail concept.

Diagrams of South London & East London Line junctions
Clapham Junction & Wandsworth (1912)
lines crossing Brixton & Peckham (1908)
junctions near Surrey Quays (1908)

The South Cross Route, one side of the London Motorway Box, the innermost ring road of the unbuilt 1960s London Ringways plan, would have paralleled the line between Wandsworth Road and Peckham Rye.[citation needed]

Former Services[edit]

A Southern train at Denmark Hill

Passenger rail services were provided by Southern, as are the continuing services on the eastern section from Peckham Rye to London Bridge.

Services along part of the line are operated by Southeastern on the Victoria-Dartford and the Chatham Main Lines, calling only at Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye.

Off-peak services were typically two trains per hour from smaller stations such as Clapham High Street, with four trains per hour from Denmark Hill.

However Southern now only operates a limited service from Kensington Olympia to Wandsworth Road.

Future developments[edit]

During the extension of the East London Line, it was proposed in 2001 to add a station at Surrey Canal Road.[8] A campaign group was formed in 2009 by Bermondsey residents to press for funding to be made available.[9][10] In September 2010, the £7 million funding for this was refused by the Department for Transport.[11] The property developer Renewal has since agreed to fund construction as part of its Surrey Canal development scheme and Lewisham Council has granted planning permission.[12] Construction is due to start in 2013, and the station could open in 2015, depending on the pace of housing development in the vicinity.[13][14]

Proposed developments[edit]

Victoria to Bellingham service[edit]

Comparative map of the former South London Line with the existing London Overground lines and the proposed Bellingham services

One of the disadvantages of incorporating the line into the London Overground network was the loss of services to Victoria and London Bridge.[2] Some passengers must now change at Clapham Junction or one of the Peckham stations to reach the central termini. They have expressed dissatisfaction at this change and mounted public campaigns to retain these services.[15][16] A survey by London Travelwatch found that 88% of passengers on the line felt they would be inconvenienced by the changes (although the survey also noted that respondents were generally unaware of the ELL/Overground proposals or of any possible benefits they might bring).[17]

To compensate for the loss of services, it was proposed to introduce a Victoria-Bellingham service along the line as far as Peckham Rye, branching off onto the Catford Loop Line to Bellingham. The proposal was abandoned due to funding issues but appears to have been resurrected (as of March 2010) after lobbying by various pressure groups and local MPs.[18]

The original decision (since resurrected after pressure groups and local MPs urged the Mayor to reconsider and secured funding from the Secretary of State for Transport) to abandon the Victoria to Bellingham proposal has also been criticised. Transport for London was the subject of critical commentary for the decision — especially as it had diverted funding for the Bellingham proposal to support construction work on the London Overground extension project — and for publicly attributing this decision to the Department for Transport.[18][19]

Following consultation with London Travelwatch, TfL compiled a shortlist of possible solutions to address the concerns of transport campaigners. The options include various combinations of additional stops for fast trains, increased service frequencies, and the Victoria-Bellingham route. The list of options is being considered by TfL, Network Rail and the DfT, and a decision will be announced in May 2010.[2]

Other additional stations[edit]

Between Denmark Hill and Clapham High Street, the line passes through Brixton, crossing over Loughborough Junction and Brixton stations but without its own stations.[20] In 2004, concerns were raised by local politicians and residents that the Brixton area was not being served by the line and campaigners criticised the East London Line Extension project for missing opportunities to create interchange stations with Thameslink and the London Underground Victoria line.[21][22][23]

No stations were planned at these locations as the line is on high viaducts, increasing the costs of station construction prohibitively.[24] The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, expressed doubts that any proposals to construct these stations would pass a cost-benefit analysis and that they would be unlikely to be approved.[21] Lambeth Council and the East London Line Group have expressed support for an interchange station at Brixton and have requested that this proposal be considered for future funding.[25][26] Suggestions have been made that the East Brixton could be re-opened as an alternative.[27]

Railway lines in Brixton
One of the high rail bridges that passes over Brixton
Disused platforms at Brixton on the Catford Loop Line
Map of rail & tube lines crossing Brixton showing the route of London Overground and nearby stations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays". Transport for London. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "London Overground: South London Line". Transport for London. Retrieved 28 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Outer London rail orbital opens for passengers". BBC News. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Federick Dale Banister". Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "London rail link gets green light". BBC News. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  6. ^ Cahalan, Paul (12 February 2009). "Approval for £75m rail plan linking Clapham Junction to Docklands in 20 minutes". Wandsworth Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "London Overground Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays". Transport for London. n.d. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Tube line extensions 'approved'". BBC News. 9 October 2001. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Surrey Canal Road Station campaign". Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "NEW CROSS: Agreement on Surrey Canal Road station draws closer". This Is Local London. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Surrey Canal Road station campaign must continue says Caroline Pidgeon". Rail News. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Surrey Canal Road station". Lewisham Council website. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Transport". Surrey Canal - London's Sporting Village. Renewal. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  14. ^ Clinnick, Richard (27 July 2011). "East London Line to run extra trains ahead of schedule". Rail (Peterborough). pp. 12–13. 
  15. ^ "Demonstrators 'mourn' loss of South London Line service". BBC News. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Stop the rail cuts campaign". Southwark Rail Users' Group. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  17. ^ The Railway Consultancy Ltd. "South London Line Research Study". London TravelWatch. Retrieved 31 October 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^ a b "Boris slammed on South London Line". South London Press. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  19. ^ "The Price of ELL Phase 2: Victoria-Bellingham Cancelled". London Reconnections (blog). 23 April 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  20. ^ Transport for London (2006). "The Tube in 2010". Retrieved 3 November 2007.  (map illustrating future development phases as proposed by TfL in 2006, subject to change)
  21. ^ a b Shawcross, Val (17 November 2004). "Mayor answers to London - Loughborough Junction and Brixton Stations". London Assembly. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  22. ^ "Junction joy South". South London Press (Streatham). 24 April 2004. Archived from the original on 9 May 2004. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 
  23. ^ Linton, Martin, MP (19 July 2006). "Parliamentary Debate: London Orbital Rail Network". Hansard (House of Commons). UK Parliament. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 
  24. ^ "East London Line Extensions - Loughborough Junction". AlwaysTouchOut. 9 November 2006. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 
  25. ^ "ELLG response to the South London Route Utilisation Strategy" (PDF). Network Rail. 26 October 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  26. ^ "East London Line extension". Public transport consultation. Lambeth Borough Council. 
  27. ^ "Then and Now: East Brixton station". Urban75. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 

External links[edit]