The Anonymous Widower

Around The Hounslow Loop Line

The Hounslow Loop Line is a suburban railway in South-West London, that runs in a loop off the Waterloo to Reading Line.

Today, to get to know the line, I took a Hounslow train from Waterloo and after passing through Clapham Junction, Putney and Barnes stations, the train took to the Hounslow Loop Line calling at a succession of stations on both sides of the Thames.

We waited a minute or so at Hounslow station, before starting to return via Whitton and Twickenham stations.

When the train got to Richmond station, I changed to the North London Line to come home directly, whilst the train went back into Waterloo, by way of the Waterloo to Reading Line.

These pictures give a flavour of the Hounslow Loop Line.

It is a very tidy suburban line.

  • Most platforms have been lengthened to take ten-car trains.
  • Whitton station has been rebuilt as I wrote about in How To Spend Five Million Pounds.
  • It has a triangular junction with the North London Line around Kew Bridge station.
  • In the mid-2000s, the train frequency on the line was doubled from 2 trains per hour (tph) to four.

All of this work has led to a 162% increase in passengers between 2004-5 and 2007-8.

I wonder what is the limit of trains round the Hounslow Loop Line.

This is more proof if it were needed, that suburban lines need at least 4 tph to really bring in the passengers.

Transport for London’s Orbital Railway

In August 2014, I wrote Will The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Extended To Hounslow?, which was based on a Modern Railways report on the Mayor’s Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050. This is said.

There may be a case for further orbital rail capacity, says the document – it shows an indicative, uncosted network to link Hounslow, Old Oak Common, Neasden, West Hampstead, Harringay, Walthamstow, Barking, Abbey Wood, Bexleyheath, Norwood Junction, Sutton and New Malden and back to Hounslow, with another route between Abbey Wood and New Malden via Lewisham, Peckham Rye and Wimbledon.

The proposed orbital railway passes takes a route from Hounslow to Wimbledon via the following stations.

  • Whitton
  • Twickenham
  • Strawberry Hill
  • Teddington
  • Kingston
  • New Malden
  • Raynes Park

Nothing concrete has been said since about the railway, but the following is happening or planned.

All these should happen by the end of 2018.

Will More North London Line Trains Go To Richmond?

Currently the North London Line service from Richmond is 4 tph to and from Stratford.

It takes around an hour, which is ten minutes faster than going via Waterloo and taking the Jubilee Line.

The only possibly faster way would be when Old Oak Common station is opened and a change there would be made to Crossrail.

I estimate, that this could result in a timing of around 45 minutes or perhaps lightly less.

As Old Oak Common station, will also have connections to HS2, the West Coast Main Line ans other important routes, Richmond to Old Oak Common could become a very heavily used route.

4 tph would probably not be enough trains, especially as the current service to the East from Willesden Junction is 8 tph.

So I think it quite likely, that the frequency between Richmond and Old Oak Common stations would be eight tph.

The extra four trains, wouldn’t need to go all the way to Stratford, as there has been talk of alternative routes.

  • Terminate at Old Oak Common.
  • Terminate at somewhere convenient on the North London Line.
  • Terminate at Barking via the Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • Go Along the Dudding Hill Line to Brent Cross Thameslink

The choice would be large.

But could Richmond handle the increased frequency of trains?

If the trains used the same route as now, there is probably a current limit of 4 tph, as the route is shared with the District Line from Gunnersbury station. Especially, as the District Line service will be increased!

So alternative ways of turning the trains is needed.

Trains could take the Houslow Loop Line after South Acton station and go through Hounslow, Whitton and perhaps terminate at Twickenham, where it should be possible to create a suitable bay platform.

But it’s not just events at Twickenham that need more capacity and North London Line services, so could we see services going in a loop via Hounslow, Whitton, Twickenham and Richmond?

This Google Map shows the line between Richmond and North Sheen stations.

Between Richmond and North Sheen Stations

Between Richmond and North Sheen Stations


  1. Richmond station is to the West.
  2. North Sheen station to the East.
  3. The North London Line turns North off the line through the two stations.

In some ways, North Sheen station is a bit of a mess and a real problem.

  • It has a level crossing at one end.
  • It has no disabled access.
  • There is another  three level crossings between Mortlake and Barnes stations, which are the next stations on the line towards London.
  • The level crossings feature regularly in Google News with respect to accidents, failures and suicides.

It might be best, if North Sheen station was completely rebuilt and the level crossings are consigned to the dustbin of history.

This map from shows the layout of lines at Richmond station.

Platforms And Lines At Richmond Station

Platforms And Lines At Richmond Station

I don’t think it would be too difficult to complete the loop, so that trains from the North London Line could turn without needing a terminal platform

It has a level crossing at one end.It has no disabled access.There is another  three level crossings between Mortlake and Barnes stations, which are the next stations on the line towards London.

Improving Richmond To Waterloo

But the problems of the level crossings are still there!

These posts describe the line between Richmond and Barnes station.

Currently, 8 tph run on the lines between Richmond and Waterloo via Clapham Junction stations.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • 2 tph to Reading
  • 2 tph to Windsor and Eton Riverside.
  • 2 tph to Waterloo via Hounslow and Brentford
  • 2 tph to Waterloo via Kingston and Wimbledon.

Richmond will become an important station connecting lots of places to Old Oak Common.

Will 8 tph between Richmond and Waterloo be sufficient?

Heathrow Airtrack

Heathrow Airtrack was an attempt to create a link from Waterloo to Heathrow Airport.

Wikipedia says this about the proposal.

The scheme, estimated to cost around £673 million, was controversial mainly because of the projected impact on local road traffic due to the high number of level crossings on the route.

Trains would have been 2 tph calling at the following stations.

  • Clapham Junction
  • Richmond
  • Twickenham
  • Feltham
  • Staines

Could another 2 tph be squeezed in through Richmond?

With difficulty and Automatic Train Operation, it might be a possibility.

But it also looks like the level crossings have already killed one project.

On the other hand, it does appear that if more capacity could be created between Richmond and Waterloo, other services would follow.









December 31, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crowded Roads In West London

Today, I tried to get to West Drayton station to have a lunchtime drink with an old mate from Cambridge, who had called me up yesterday, as he might have needed a second person to help him with one of his robotic machines.

But it all went pear-shaped at Paddington, where trains to West Drayton were very much delayed and I was advised to take the Underground to Greenford station and then use a bus.

But at Greenford, there wasn’t a bus map or anybody to ask, so in the end I took a bus to Ealing Hospital, where I thought I knew I could get a bus to West Drayton. But there wasn’t! So I thought about giving up and instead, I got a bus to Ealing Broadway station, to get back to Paddington. But I arrived at Ealing Broadway station, just before a train to West Drayton arrived. I caught that, had a drink with my friend and then caught a train back to Paddington. He didn’t need me to help, as all he needed was a pair of eyes to tell him what was happening at the sharp end of his machine and the client had turned up with his glasses.

So I achieved my objective and also had a wander round the Boroughs of Ealing and Hillingdon on buses and trains.

I trundle round North and East London most of the time and sometimes I even cross the River and go to the Deep South.

But I do find West London the most crowded, with buses slowed by all the traffic on the roads and infrequent very busy trains.

The West of London needs improvement in public transport.

I sometimes think, the traffic has got worse over the forty-six years, I had a driving licence.

Rail And Underground Lines

There are several lines going West from Central London, which include.

  • The Chiltern Line from Marylebone to West Ruislip
  • The Central Line to West Ruislip
  • The Metroplitan Line to Uxbridge
  • The Piccadilly Line to Uxbridge
  • The Great Western Main Line tfrom Paddington to Reading and Heathrow
  • The Piccadilly Line to Heathrow

Going further round, there are several lines from Waterloo going to the South West.

Only one line; the West London Line goes North South, although there used to be others.

The network is probably more sparse than some other directions from London.

Reliance on Cars And Buses

I think this rather thin coverage, puts a heavy radiance on cars and buses, which might explain the crowded roads.


Crossrail will bring improvement with the following Off Peak services in trains per hour (tph), along the slow lines of the Great Western Main Line.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 2 tph to Reading
  • 2 tph to Maidenhead


  1. The central core tunnel probably has a limit of 24 tph.
  2. The service has a good balance between the various destinations.
  3. There will also be Great Western Railway services.
  4. Looking at the Crossrail schedule, there is scope to adjust the schedule on each branch.

I think that as Crossrail develops and the line and its passengers learn more about each other, the service  pattern of Crossrail will change.

If I have a worry about Crossrail, it is that few of the stations towards Central London have many parking spaces, so will walking, cycling and the buses be adequate for Crossrail to tap its full potential?

The West London Tram

The West London Tram was proposed by Ken Livingstone in 2002.

These paragraphs from Wikipedia describes the tram and its route.

The West London Tram  was a proposed on-street light rail line that was to run along the Uxbridge Road (A4020) corridor in West London, England. The scheme is promoted by Transport for London (TfL) but opposed by the councils of all three London Boroughs through which it would run. It was postponed indefinitely on 2 August 2007

The tram route was planned to run between Uxbridge and Shepherd’s Bush, serving Hillingdon, Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing and Acton en route and would have completely replaced a number of equivalent London Bus routes.

If it had been built it would have had good connectivity to Crossrail and the Central Line. But the view of those against the project prevailed.

In my trip today, you could see why probably every car driver in the area, would be against a scheme like the tram. Only at places on the route, where there was a wide island of grass dividing the carriageways, would the tram not have increased congestion.

It looks like the thirty million pounds spent was wasted.

Crossrail And/Or West London Tram?

This Google Map shows the area around the three stations of Hanwell, West Ealing And Ealing Broadway.

Great Western Main Line And The A4020 Through Ealing

Great Western Main Line And The A4020 Through Ealing


  • The Great Western Main Line across the middle.
  • The A 4020 runs South of and parallel to the railway.
  • Ealing Hospital is marked by the red arrow in the bottom left of the map.

I asked in the Header to this section if it should be And/Or between the projects.

Undoubtedly, it should be Or! Taxpayers can’t afford both!

In comparing the two, I believe the following points are valid.

  • Trams stop about three or four more times than trains.
  • The train is faster.
  • The tram doesn’t serve Old Oak Common station or Heathrow.
  • Trams annoy drivers in the same way that bendy buses do.
  • Crossrail has a rich connection pattern compared to the tram.
  • Pedestrians probably prefer trams, whilst drivers prefer trains.

The politicians decided and chose the trains.

Making More Of The Railways

If the streets are crowded can we use the existing railways to inject greater capacity into the existing railways in West London?

The key to this, as it sits in the middle of so many lines is the creation of a new station at Old Oak Common.

I will now summarise the possible rail projects that can be developed in West London

Chiltern Railways To Old Oak Common

Chiltern Railways  have a capacity problem at Marylebone and one way to alleviate it would be for Chiltern to create a second terminal at Old Oak Common station, which could be accessed using an improved New North Main Line.

There is a real possibility of this project going forward and it could have many worthwhile features.

It would add another East-West route across West London, but with the comprehensive connectivity of Old Oak Common.

Chiltern Metro Creation

Wikipedia says this about a Chiltern Metro.

New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events).[73] This ‘Chiltern Metro’ service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.

When I wrote Could A Chiltern Metro Be Created? and came to the conclusion, that it might be possible, I got several positive responses.

Greenford Branch Improvements

The Greenford Branch Line connects the Great Western Main Line and the New North Line.

This map from shows the Northern end of the branch, where it joins the New North Line.

Northern End Of The Greenford Branch

Northern End Of The Greenford Branch

Whilst this map from shows the Southern end of the branch, where it joins the Great Western Main Line.

Southern End Of The Greenford Branch

Southern End Of The Greenford Branch

What service the line will get after Crossrail opens has still to be decided,

  • 4 tph between West Ealing and Greenford stations is certainly possible.
  • There are those, including Ealing Council, who don’t like Greenford losing its direct connection to Paddington.
  • A rebuilt Greenford station could incorporate Chiltern services.

As the connections at both ends of the branch allow trains to go in either an East or West direction, could this be useful in creating services between the two main lines?

Brentford Branch Reopening

I wrote about this in Could The Golden Mile In Houslow Get A Station?

The Brentford Branch could be a useful branch, worked by a shuttle train!

Hounslow Loop Line Improvements

The Hounslow Loop Line, which has a strong presence on both sides of the river and takes passengers to and from Waterloo, is being improved to increase capacity.

Could we see the Overground opening new services along the North London Line  to perhaps Brentford, Hounslow and Feltham stations?

The route is used by freight trains, and Transport have suggested using the route to create an orbital Overground route.


The railways will take the strain in West London, after the abandonment of the West London Tram.






December 31, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment