The Anonymous Widower

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to improve Kensal Green junction. It says this about the improvements.

Upgrade of the junction, moving it slightly to the east and realigning the layout, to facilitate faster crossing speeds sufficient for a 3-minute planning margin.

This map from shows the track layout between Harlesden in the West to Kensal Rise station in the East.



  1. Harlesden, Willesden Junction Low Level and Kensal Green stations are on the shared tracks of the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines.
  2. Willesden Junction High Level and Kensal Rise are stations on the North London Line.
  3. Kensal Green & Harlesden is a former station on the North London Line, which is shown on the map as dotted platforms.
  4. Kensal Green Junction is to the West of Willesden Junction High Level station.
  5. The City Lines, which are shown in black connect the North London Line to the West coast Main Line and the important freight yards at Wembley.
  6. The black tracks at the bottom of the map are the West Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows Kensal Green Junction.


  1. The railway is the sandy scar across the top of the map.
  2. The Kensal Green Turnout is in the North-East section of the map.
  3. The Kensal Green Junction and the City Lines are in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. The road over the railway in the middle of the map is Wrottesley Road.

These pictures show the Kensal Green Turnout.

And these show Kensal Green Junction and the City Lines.


  1. The railway has generous margins.
  2. The City Lines are electrified.
  3. The North London Line is electrified.
  4. The Kensal Green junction appears to be fully electrified.
  5. All electrification is 25 KVAC overhead.

There would be plenty of space to install a modern efficient junction.

This is said in the Network Rail document about the improvement to Kensal Green Junction.

Kensal Green Junction, just to the northeast of Willesden Junction High Level station on the North London Line, is a key location for the functioning of the orbital routes.

It connects the North London Line to the West Coast Main Line and Wembley Yard, a vital link for cross-London intermodal flows.

Westbound freight trains must cross over the flat junction to access the City lines towards the West Coast Main Line, a conflicting move with any eastbound London Overground or freight services from Willesden Junction High Level. Ensuring these moves can take place as quickly and as smoothly as possible is essential to the efficient use of capacity on the North London Line.

The proposed enhancement would upgrade the junction, moving it slightly to the east and realigning the layout, to facilitate faster crossing speeds.

Currently trains from the City lines (in the eastbound direction) are limited to 10 mph over Kensal Green Junction, while trains towards the City lines (in the westbound direction) are limited to 15 mph.

This scheme would increase speeds through the junction so that trains can safely cross it a
minimum of 3 minutes after a conflicting movement – they currently have to wait at least 4 minutes.

Although this is a relatively minor scheme, it could have a significant positive impact on both capacity and performance in the area.

I find the last paragraph very important. So does this improvement scheme offer good value to money?

Could The Junction Be Used By Passenger Trains?


  • Nothing is mentioned about passenger trains.
  • Electric passenger trains are nippier because of better acceleration.
  • No scheduled services appear to use the City Lines
  • But I did find an empty stock movement from Wembley Sidings to Gospel Oak.

If the junction could be improved would there be any reason to run passenger trains through the junction?

Suppose, High Speed Two, during the rebuilding of Euston station, decided to stop the Watford DC Line services from using Euston station.

If the Class 710 trains of the London Overground could terminate at say Camden Road station, this would give passengers on the Northern part of the Watford DC Line another route to Central London by changing at West Hampstead station for Thameslink or the Jubilee Line or Camden Road station for the Northern Line by walking between the two Camden stations.

I would expect there may need to be some extra crossovers, so that trains from the Watford DC Lines could access the City Lines to get to and from Kensal Green junction.

In Will Camden Road Station Get a Third Platform?, I outlined how Camden Road station could get a third platform, as is also proposed in the LRFS.

But suppose though the existing Platform 2 at Camden Road station were to be diverted into two platforms.

  • A Platform 2 East handling services to and from the East.
  • A Platform 2 West handling services to and from the West.

That would do nicely.


Improving Kensal Green Junction may improve passenger services, especially if High Speed Two work at Euston means the Watford DC services have to be suspended.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 15 Comments