North Pole depot

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Eurostar at sidings of eastern site of North Pole depot, GWML on far side (2007)

North Pole International was the London depot for Eurostar's fleet of British Rail Class 373 trains from 1994 until 2007 during the period when Eurostar trains ran from Waterloo International railway station.

As of 2013 part of the site is being re-developed for use as a maintenance site for future Intercity Express Programme trains.


51°31′26″N 0°14′39″W / 51.52382°N 0.24422°W / 51.52382; -0.24422 (North Pole depot (western sheds))Coordinates: 51°31′26″N 0°14′39″W / 51.52382°N 0.24422°W / 51.52382; -0.24422 (North Pole depot (western sheds)), western six road maintenance shed

51°31′31″N 0°13′57″W / 51.52514°N 0.23259°W / 51.52514; -0.23259 (North Pole depot (eastern sheds)), eastern four road heavy maintenance shed

North Pole depot is located at two sites on either side of the West London Line, just north of North Pole junction. The western site is located adjacent to, and on the south side of the Great Western Main Line (GWML) opposite Old Oak Common depot. The eastern site is accessed by rail via the western site passing under the West London line and the A219 (Scrubs Lane) at Mitre bridge.[1][2]



Historically the land at the western site was undeveloped, most of it lying on the northern part of the open land known as Wormwood Scrubs; a limited amount of land was used for sidings south of the Great Western Main Line (GWML).[3]

The eastern part was developed for railway use in the last quarter part of the 19th century.[4] By 1870 a burrowing junction chord had been built,[note 1] connecting the West London Line (WLL) and the GWML by veering east off the WLL at North Pole Junction, then turning west passing under the WLL and connected to the GWML at West London Junction.[4] In 1870 land in the northwestern corner of Little Wormwood Scrubs including Red House Farm and a gasworks was exchanged for 5 acres (2.0 ha) in the south east corner;[5] much of the land was taken up by the establishment of a railway works; the West London Works.[4][5] Track also connected the loop chord and works onto the GWML to the east.[4] The works continued until after the second world war, the majority of the works had been closed and demolished by the early 1970s, leaving undeveloped ground.[6]

North Pole International depot[edit]

Maintenance building at western site of the North Pole International depot, view SW across GWML track (2007)

A depot at North Pole, West London formed part of the 1970s aborted Channel Tunnel scheme.[7] The Channel Tunnel Act 1987 sanctioned the construction of a train depot in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea;[8] the depot construction cost was £76 million;[9] in addition to the construction the line from Waterloo International railway station to the depot (West London Line) was electrified.[10] The designers were Mott MacDonald, the British Rail civil engineer, and YRM.[11]

The depot opened in 1994.[12] The main facilities were a 6 track 400 m (1,300 ft) shed used for light servicing and cleaning the trains, and a 4 track 200 m (660 ft) used for heavy overhaul, other facilities included a wheel lathe shed, a bogie repair shed, train washing and toilet and water changing facilities and a staff accommodation building.[13]

In 2005 the closure of the depot was announced, to be replaced by a new depot directly linked to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.[14] On 14 November 2007 Eurostar moved its London terminus from Waterloo International station to St Pancras railway station, and maintenance simultaneously moved to a new site at Temple Mills near Stratford International.[15][16]

Potential re-use by conventional UK rail operators was limited by the specialised equipment designed for electrical trains being unsuitable for general operations; the site lacked an overhead crane, turning facilities, fuelling facilities; additionally it was not designed for vehicles creating emission (combustion products) and lacked a connection to the GWML.[17]

Intercity Express Programme[edit]

In 2009 Agility Trains was listed as the preferred bidder for the Intercity Express Programme high speed train procurement; the North Pole depot was given as a site to be used for the train's maintenance depots.[18]

Hitachi submitted planning documents in 2011;[19] the main large maintenance shed was planned to be re-used with the addition of an inspection pit. Carriage wash facilities were to be replaced, and oil, fuelling, toilet emptying and other train service facilities installed. The remainder of the site was to have minor modifications.[20] The former heavy maintenance shed was outside the scope of the redevelopment; most of the works were in the western part of the site.[21]

Future plans[edit]

Part of the eastern section of the site was included in re-development plans for the Kensal gasworks in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. In one option a bridge would be created to provide a link between the existing communities to the south of the existing depot and a proposed Kensal Portobello Crossrail Station to the north of the railway lines on the former gasworks site.[22]

London and Continental Railways is seeking to use the remainder of the site not used by the Intercity Express Programme for housing or commercial use.[12]


  1. ^ Rail Atlas Great Britain & Ireland, S.K. Baker ISBN 0-86093-553-1
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey, 1:10000, 1996
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey. 1:2500; 1871, 1874, 1896, 1915, 1935. 1:10560; 1950-1, 1957, 1967. 1:10000; 1975-6, 1984
  4. ^ a b c d Ordnance Survey. 1:2500. 1870-1, 1896
  5. ^ a b Little Wormwood Scrubs Ten-year Management Plan 2010-2019 (PDF), Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Appendix five: A Brief History of Little Wormwood Scrubs, p.107 
  6. ^ Ordnance Survey. 1:10560; 1920, 1938, 1951, 1957, 1967, 1975
  7. ^ Gourvish 2006, p. 306.
  9. ^ Gourvish 2006, p. 325.
  10. ^ Gourvish, Terence Richard (2004), British Rail 1974-1997: From Integration to Privatisation, Oxford University Press, p. 323 
  11. ^ The Architecture Collection, Volume 2, 1998, p. 208 
  12. ^ a b North Pole Depot, London & Continental Railways, retrieved 1 Nov 2013 
  13. ^ Indigo Planning Ltd. & Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. 2011, 1.6-1.11, p.1.
  14. ^ "Britain's largest traction depot to close", The Railway Magazine 151, 2005: 8 
  15. ^ "Depot mark 2 promises faster maintenance of faster trains". Railway Gazette International. 32 October 2007.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ "Eurostar settles into its green depot", Railway Gazette International, 3 Nov 2008 
  17. ^ "Crossrail Bill: first special report, session 2006-07", Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill (HMSO), 4: Oral evidence, 21 June to 26 July 2006, 2007, Ev 1393 : 14746 
  19. ^ Continued use of the site as a train maintenance depot, including provision of new train wash, fuel and CET apron, modifications to existing maintenance shed, alteration/demolition of some existing buildings, erection of new related maintenance/servicing buildings, alterations to access - North Pole International (Ref. No. 2011/03005/FUL), London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, 7 Sep 2011 
  20. ^ Indigo Planning Ltd. & Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. 2011, 2.1-2.4, p.3; 2.8-2.17 pp.3-4.
  21. ^ Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (August 2011), Proposed North Pole Depot Environmental Constraints Report (PDF), Figure 1 "Environmental Features Map" (.pdf p.22) 
  22. ^ "Issues and Options Paper for Kensal Gasworks Paper" (PDF). Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Option 2, p.10. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 


  1. ^ The West London loop (GWR) (OS. 1:2500. 1896), later Victoria Branch (OS. 1:2500. 1915-6, 1935)


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