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 | , , , , ,

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