London, Tilbury and Southend Railway

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London-Tilbury-Southend Line
357014 at Upminster Bridge.JPG
Class 357 unit between Barking and Upminster.
Type Commuter rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
East of England
Termini London Fenchurch Street
Stations 26
Opened 1854
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) c2c
Depot(s) East Ham and Shoeburyness
Rolling stock Class 357 "Electrostar"
Line length 39.5 miles (63.57 km)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV AC
Operating speed up to 75 mph (121 km/h)
Route map
0mi 0ch Fenchurch Street
Docklands Light Railway to Bank
Tower Gateway (Docklands Light Railway) | Minories
Leman Street
Cannon Street Road
Shadwell (London Overground)East London Line
Shadwell & St. George's East
former London & Blackwall Rly
1mi 58ch Limehouse Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway
Regents Canal
Burdett Road
Gas Factory Junction
District line &
Hammersmith & City line
to Great Eastern Main Line
Docklands Light Railway
3mi 18ch Bromley-by-Bow
Bow Creek
4mi 8ch West Ham London Underground Docklands Light Railway
4mi 45ch Plaistow
5mi 28ch Upton Park
6mi 18ch East Ham
East Ham Depot
Gospel Oak to Barking Line
to Gospel Oak
7mi 42ch Barking London Underground London Overground
8mi 46ch Upney
9mi 48ch Becontree
10mi 36ch Dagenham Heathway
10mi 45ch Dagenham Dock
11mi 25ch Dagenham East
12mi 54ch Rainham
12mi 57ch Elm Park
13mi 56ch Hornchurch
14mi 38ch Upminster Bridge
Romford to Upminster Line
to Romford
15mi 20ch Upminster London Underground London Overground
Upminster Depot
M25 motorway
Mileage change
3mi 5ch Ockendon
5mi 38ch Chafford Hundred Lakeside
Mileage change
16mi 2ch Purfleet
19mi 15ch West Horndon
West Thurrock Junction
19mi 70ch Grays
21mi 48ch
Tilbury Town
for bus to Gravesend ferry
Tilbury Freight Terminal
Tilbury Riverside
Low Street
22mi 69ch Laindon
24mi 26ch Basildon
25mi 7ch East Tilbury
London Gateway
27mi 13ch Stanford-le-Hope
1: 32mi 37ch
2: 26mi 42ch
Mileage change
Pitsea Junction
29mi 11ch Benfleet
32mi 43ch Leigh-on-Sea
33mi 69ch Chalkwell
34mi 66ch Westcliff
35mi 55ch Southend Central
36mi 49ch Southend East
37mi 73ch Thorpe Bay
carriage sidings
39mi 40ch Shoeburyness
Pig's Bay

The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway is a railway line in England linking Fenchurch Street railway station in the City of London with the northern Thames Gateway area of southern Essex. It is now known as the Essex Thameside Route by Network Rail and forms part of strategic route 6.[1] It is classified as a London and South East commuter line.[2] Passenger train services on the line form the Essex Thameside franchise that is operated by c2c, a train operating company and part of the National Express Group.

The main route from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Basildon is 39.5 miles (63.57 km) and the fastest timetabled journey time from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness is 58 minutes[3] giving an average speed of 40.7 miles per hour (65.5 km/h), although the route can be done in 47 minutes, giving an average speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).[4] A loop line serving Tilbury provides an alternative connection from London to Southend; and a branch line connecting the two via Chafford Hundred forms a third route. The line has a maximum speed limit of 75 mph (121 km/h), although the Class 357 Electrostar trains which run on it are capable of a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h).

The line was authorised in 1852 and the first section was opened in 1854 by the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway Company, which was a joint venture between the London and Blackwall Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway. The line was extended in phases and partnerships were formed with the Midland Railway and District Railway to provide through services. The line was purchased by the Midland Railway in 1912 and became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923.


London, Tilbury & Southend Line
Fenchurch Street
Limehouse Docklands Light Railway
London and
Blackwall Railway
Commercial Road
Regent's Canal
Burdett Road
London and Blackwall
Extension Railway
Whitechapel and
Bow Railway
A12 road
River Lea
West Ham London Underground Docklands Light Railway
Upton Park
East Ham
Gospel Oak to
Barking Line
North Circular Road
River Roding
Barking London Underground London Overground
A13 road
Dagenham Dock
Dagenham East
Upminster London Underground London Overground
A13 road
M25 motorway
A13 road
Dartford Crossing
Chafford Hundred
West Horndon
Tilbury Town
Tilbury Riverside
East Tilbury
London Gateway
Low Street
A13 road
Southend Central
Southend East
Thorpe Bay

Initial construction[edit]

Construction of the 36-mile (58 km) line was authorised by Parliament on 17 June 1852.[5] The first section, constructed by Peto and Grissell, was opened between Forest Gate junction on the Eastern Counties Railway and Tilbury, via Barking and Grays on 13 April 1854.[6] Services initially ran from Fenchurch Street and Bishopsgate stations over existing lines to Stratford and Forest Gate Junction.[6] Further extensions opened in late 1854 to Horndon, to Leigh-on-Sea on 1 July 1855 and finally to Southend on 1 March 1856.[5] In 1858 a more direct route to Fenchurch Street was constructed through Bromley, Plaistow and East Ham,[6] connecting with the London and Blackwall Extension Railway at Bow; and the service from Bishopsgate was withdrawn. Under the management of civil engineer Arthur Lewis Stride the line was extended from Southend to Shoeburyness in 1884.[6] A more direct route from Barking to Pitsea via Upminster was constructed between 1885 and 1888, completing the current main route.[6] A single track branch was constructed between Romford and Grays via Upminster in 1892–1893.

Route development[edit]

'LTSR' canopy support at East Ham (no longer served)

In 1902 the Whitechapel and Bow Railway was constructed as a joint venture with the District Railway, connecting the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway at Bow with the District Railway at Whitechapel. The connection allowed through running of District Railway trains from the tunnels under central London to provide local services to Upminster from 2 June 1902.[7] When the Metropolitan, District and Whitechapel & Bow Railway lines were electrified, an additional pair of tracks was constructed between Bow and East Ham and the service was cut back to there on 30 September 1905.[7] The electrified tracks were extended to Barking and opened on 1 April 1908.[7] Delayed by World War I,[6] the electric tracks were extended to Upminster and District line services started on 12 September 1932.[7]

The London Plan Working Party Report of 1949 envisaged as its Route G the LTSR electrified and diverted away from Fenchurch Street to Bank and on through the Waterloo & City line tunnels to Waterloo and its suburban lines.[8] Of course, the Waterloo & City tunnels would have had to be bored out to main line size for this "Crossrail" to happen. However, electrification went ahead from 1961 to 1962[6] and direct passenger services from Bromley, Plaistow, Upton Park, East Ham, Becontree, Dagenham and Hornchurch to Fenchurch Street were withdrawn. In 1974 a station opened to serve the new town of Basildon and in 1995 a station was built at Chafford Hundred to serve the new community there and Lakeside Shopping Centre. Platforms were reestablished and opened at West Ham station in 1999 to provide interchange with the extended Jubilee line.

Ownership and management[edit]

LMS 3-cylinder 2-6-4T No. 2500 built specifically for the LTSR section at National Railway Museum, York in 2003

The railway was initially jointly promoted by the Eastern Counties Railway and London and Blackwall Railway and was leased for 21 years to Peto, Brassey and Betts.[9] The lease expired in 1875, leaving the LT&SR to take over operation itself.[5] The Midland Railway and London, Tilbury and Southend Railway jointly constructed the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, which enabled through running of trains between St Pancras railway station and Tilbury Docks.[6] In 1912 the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway was vested in the Midland Railway following an Act of 7 August 1912, though the MR did not assume full control until 1 October 1920.[5] At grouping in 1923, the line became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.[6] The London, Midland and Scottish Railway was nationalised into British Railways in 1948 and in 1949 the LTSR line became part of the Eastern Region.[6] The line was electrified in the late 1950s.[5] In 1986 the route was transferred to the Network SouthEast sector of British Rail. On privatisation in 1996, ownership passed to Railtrack and Prism Rail took over operations of the London, Tilbury and Southend franchise; marketing the route as LTS Rail.[6] Ownership passed to Network Rail in 2002. Prism Rail were bought out by National Express Group in 2000 and in 2002 the line was rebranded as c2c.

Rolling stock[edit]

See Locomotives of the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway for full details of LTSR built steam locomotives.

The line was known for its use of 4-4-2 tank engines which were later displaced by 2-6-4Ts after it had been absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923.

There were three engine sheds on the route - Plaistow (which was also the location of the works), Tilbury and Shoeburyness.

On 30 January 1958, the accident at Dagenham East caused the loss of 10 lives and 93 injured.

After electrification in 1962 most services were operated by British Railways Class 302 Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) which were withdrawn in 1998, leaving the Class 310s and 312s in service until they were replaced by Class 357 EMUs. These are stabled at Shoeburyness and East Ham depot where they are also maintained.


Modern c2c Electrostar train on LT&SR route

During the early 1990s proposals were put forward to convert the whole line into a guided busway, however these plans were quickly dismissed when British Rail announced a complete re-signalling of the line. Over the years the LTS had been used in an almost experimental fashion and contained a whole host of different signalling systems (e.g. geographical, WESTPAC and relay interlockings). In 1995 work got underway to replace everything from signals and point machines to whole junctions.

The main contractor for the work was GEC Alsthom who provided a Mark 3 Solid State Interlocking (SSI) system with SEMA providing the IECC element at Upminster that replaced all signal boxes on the whole line. Main line running signals mostly became 4 aspect colour lights (replacing searchlight signals amongst others), all point machines were replaced with HW2000 machines and the whole line had a complete fibre optic network installed. All level crossings were renewed with full barriers to be CCTV controlled by a designated workstation at Upminster.

The main line between East Ham and Shoeburyness was also bi-directionally signalled (with 3 aspect signalling) along most parts, with the bi-directional section alternating from one track to the other between certain stations, to provide maximum flexibility for continuing operations should disruption occur.

The line was re-signalled over the Easter weekend 1996 when all the signal boxes from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness (via Basildon) were switched out and control was transferred to Upminster IECC. This was later followed over the 1996 August bank holiday when Upminster took control from the remaining boxes on the Tilbury Loop.


Station Local authority Fare zone Usagea Startb TPHc Connections/Notes
Main route
London Fenchurch Street City of London 1 18.245 1854 8 Tower Hill tube station and Tower Gateway DLR station
Limehouse Tower Hamlets 2 3.251 1854 6 DLR
West Ham Newham 3 3.690 1901d 8 District line, Hammersmith and City line, Jubilee line, DLR
Barking Barking and Dagenham 4 8.331 1854 8 Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop, District line, Hammersmith and City line, Gospel Oak to Barking Line
Upminster Havering 6 4.530 1885 6 Upminster to Grays branch, District line, Romford to Upminster Line
West Horndon Brentwood outside zones 0.355 1888 2
Laindon Basildon outside zones 1.946 1888 4
Basildon Basildon outside zones 2.764 1974 4
Pitsea Basildon outside zones 1.114 1855 4 Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop
Benfleet Castle Point outside zones 3.401 1855 6
Leigh-on-Sea Southend-on-Sea outside zones 2.000 1856 6
Chalkwell Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.735 1856 6
Westcliff Southend-on-Sea outside zones 0.957 1895 6
Southend Central Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.955 1856 6
Southend East Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.902 1932 4
Thorpe Bay Southend-on-Sea outside zones 0.812 1884 4
Shoeburyness Southend-on-Sea outside zones 0.690 1884 4
Upminster to Grays branch
Ockendon Thurrock G 0.692 1892 2
Chafford Hundred Thurrock G 2.084 1993 2
Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop
Dagenham Dock Barking and Dagenham 5 0.362 1908 2
Rainham Havering 6 1.748 1854 2
Purfleet Thurrock G 0.501 1854 2
Purfleet Rifle Range Halt Thurrock 0.501 1910 2 Initially opened for military use only but for public use from 1921 until closure in 1948.
Grays Thurrock G 3.224 1854 4 Upminster to Grays branch
Tilbury Town Thurrock outside zones 0.843 1854 2
East Tilbury Thurrock outside zones 0.321 1936 2
Stanford-le-Hope Thurrock outside zones 0.998 1854 2
  • ^a Millions of entries and exits during the 2013/14 financial year[10]
  • ^b Year station first served by London, Tilbury and Southend Railway service (could be served earlier by another company)
  • ^c Off-peak Monday-Saturday trains per hour frequency in the December 2009 timetable[3]
  • ^d Service suspended in 1913 and reintroduced in 1999

Diversion to Liverpool Street[edit]

The main terminus is Fenchurch Street

When necessary, due to engineering work or other problems, trains can be diverted at Barking over the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and then the Great Eastern Main Line to call at Stratford and Liverpool Street. Trains diverted at Barking, having passed Stratford, can also rejoin the London, Tilbury and Southend line before Limehouse (avoiding West Ham) and continue to Fenchurch Street. This route is used by a limited service on Monday to Friday between Shoeburyness or Grays and Fenchurch Street via Stratford and consists of a short section of single track at Bow. From May 1985[11] to May 2007, the weekday service after 22:30 operated from Liverpool Street. As of May 2010, most through services now start and terminate at Fenchurch Street, with a limited number of late evening and early morning weekday services operating to Liverpool Street. Westbound there are currently two services from Barking and one from Stanford-le-Hope, Grays and Southend Central to Liverpool Street. Eastbound there are only two services from Liverpool Street to Barking.

Proposed developments[edit]

2007 proposals[edit]

The Greater Anglia RUS, published in December 2007, outlined a number of developments intended for the Thameside Route. In the medium term, 2009–14, this includes minor infrastructure works and additional rolling stock to allow all main line peak-service trains to be extended to 12-car formation. Also included is the proposal for the extension of platforms on the Tilbury loop and Ockendon branch to handle 12 cars, to allow all main line peak-service trains to be extended to 8 or 12-car formation. In the longer term intentions are to continue the lengthening of peak trains to 12-car formation.[12] A new railway station was proposed at Beam Reach, between Dagenham Dock and Rainham, near Marsh Way road and CEME Innovation Centre (between A13 and A1306).[13][14]

London Gateway (port) link[edit]

The London Gateway deep water port currently under construction will be linked to the line. Work of the port started in February 2010 and it is expected to handle 3.5 million TEU annually. The first stage of the dock is already open and it will be fully completed over the next ten to 15 years.[15]


Of the original LTS, 4-4-2T number 80 survives as a stationary exhibit at Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk. An ex-LT&S BR Std (80079) is preserved as a stationary exhibit, on the Severn Valley Railway in Shropshire. Another ex LTS locomotive BR 42500 is the sole remaining member of the 36 3 cylinder 2-6-4 tank engines built by the LMS in the 1930s for the London Tilbury and Southend line. It is preserved in LMS livery at the National Railway Museum in York.

Shipping activity[edit]

Until 1855 the ferry crossing between Tilbury and Gravesend in Kent was operated by sailing and rowing boats, but in that year steam driven vessels were introduced on the River Thames crossing. On formation of the London,Tilbury and Southend Railway Company that operation became part of its activities.[16]

Responsibility for the ferry operation was transferred to the Midland Railway Company and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1912 and 1923 respectively.

Particulars of the ferry service and the vessels employed are listed at Gravesend-Tilbury Ferry.


  1. ^ "Route 6 North London Line and Thameside" (PDF). Network Rail Route Plans 2006. Network Rail. 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Route 6 North London Line and Thameside" (PDF). Route Plans 2009. Network Rail. 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Train Times" (PDF). c2c. 13 December 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c d e McCarthy, Colin; McCarthy, David (2009). Railways of Britain – London North of the Thames. Hersham, Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-7110-3346-7. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "London, Tilbury and Southend Railway" (PDF), Local Studies Information Sheets (Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council), 2008, retrieved 28 November 2013 
  7. ^ a b c d Douglas Rose (1999). The London Underground: A diagrammatic history (7 ed.). Douglas Rose. 
  8. ^ J. Glover, "London's Underground", 7th edition, Shepperton, Ian Allan, 1991, p.61.
  9. ^ Hamilton Ellis (1953). The Midland Railway. Ian Allen Ltd. 
  10. ^ "Station usage". Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  11. ^ White, H. P. (1987). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. 3: Greater London (3rd ed.). David St John Thomas. 
  12. ^ "Greater Anglia Route Utilisation Strategy" (PDF). Network Rail. December 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  13. ^ "Beam Park set for 2,000 new homes and c2c rail station". 
  14. ^ "Boris's blueprint gets a qualified 'yes'". Romford Recorder. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  15. ^ "London Gateway port, Essex". Local Transport Today. Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  16. ^ Haws, Duncan (1993). Merchant Fleets – Britain's Railway Steamers – Eastern & North Western + Zeeland and Stena. Hereford: TCL Publications. p. 124. ISBN 0-946378-22-3. 
  • Welch, H.D. (1951 (Revised April 1963)). The Oakwood Library of Railway History. No. 8:The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. The Oakwood Press. p. 38.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]