The Anonymous Widower

London Overground: Design Work For West London Orbital Route Begins

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the BBC.

This is the sub-heading.

Plans for a new London Overground link in west London are progressing, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

These paragraphs outline what will happen.

Engineering consultants who worked on the Elizabeth line have been chosen for the West London Orbital service.

“This engineering design will help determine the cost of delivering the scheme, which is currently unfunded,” Transport for London (TfL) said.

It hopes the scheme, which would connect Hounslow with Hendon and West Hampstead, could start next decade.

My feeling, is that they should get on with it.

  • There would be no major construction like tunnels.
  • Four stations would need to be built.
  • I doubt there will be any demolition.
  • It wouldn’t need more electrification, as the route is electrified at both ends and battery-electric trains could be used.
  • It would create more connections to Old Oak Common for High Speed Two.

But if it does for North West London, what the Overground has done for North and East London, it will be very much worth it.

These are a few thoughts and observations.

The Route

This is a schematic of the route from the BBC article.


  1. The new stations are Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane and Lionel Road.
  2. Acton Central, Brentford, South Acton, Syon Lane and West Hampstead Thameslink are step-free and Isleworth is on the way.
  3. The fully step-free Brent Cross West station will open soon.
  4. Lionel Road station will serve the new Brentford stadium.
  5. Old Oak Common Lane will serve High Speed Two, the Elizabeth Line and the North London Line.

They look to be a useful set of stations.

Kew Bridge Station

There’s been a lot of development at Kew Bridge station, since I was last there.

There are lots of flats and Brentford’s new stadium.

I suspect all the stations between Kew Bridge and Hounslow will see similar levels of development.

Electrification Issues On The Dudding Hill Line

The Dudding Hill Line forms the Northern section of the route between the Midland Main Line and the North London Line at Acton Wells Junction.

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the junction between the Dudding Hill and Midland Main Lines.


  1. The Midland Main Line is shown in red as it is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line is shown in black, as it isn’t electrified.

This second map from OpenRailwayMap shows the junction between the Dudding Hill and North London Lines at Acton Wells junction.


  1. As before red tracks are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires and black tracks have no electrification.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line is the black track running North-South at the West of the map.
  3. Acton Wells junction, where the Dudding Hill and North London Lines join is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. The North London Line is shown in red running across the North-West corner of the map.
  5. The Great Western Main Line is shown in red running across the South-East corner of the map.
  6. High Speed Two will run East-West across the map and is shown dotted in red.
  7. The red lines in the middle of the map is the Elizabeth Line depot.

With all the 25 KVAC overhead electrification at both ends of the Dudding Hill Line, it would appear, that if this section is ever electrified, it will be electrified with this form of electrification.

There may be a problem, in that there are three or four bridges over the line.

Electrification Issues At Kew

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the triangular junction by Kew Bridge station.


  1. As before black tracks have no electrification.
  2. Mauve tracks are electrified with 750 VDC  third-rail electrification.
  3. Kew Bridge station is indicated by the blue arrow at the Eastern point of the junction.
  4. Trains to Hounslow will arrive in the North-East corner of the map and go diagonally across the map to leave in the South-West point of the junction.
  5. Trains to Kew Bridge will arrive in the North-East corner of the map and take the Eastern chord of the junction to a new platform in Kew Bridge station.

Brentford’s new stadium and a lot of housing are in the middle of the junction.

It would seem to be obvious to electrify the triangular junction using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

But not to the ORR it isn’t, as they won’t allow any new third-rail electrification to be installed on Health and Safety grounds.

Project Management Issues

I believe this could be one of those projects, where by careful selection of the order of the sub-projects, time and money can be saved and passengers will see benefits earlier.

For example.

  • Early delivery of Old Oak Common Lane station would also connect the North London Line to High Speed Two and the Elizabeth Line.
  • Early delivery of step-free access at Kew Bridge station would help passengers going to the new Brentford stadium.

There may be other projects, that need an early delivery.

The Feltham And Wokingham Resignalling Programme

The Feltham And Wokingham Resignalling Programme  is currently underway and there are pairs of new and old signals everywhere between Kew Bridge and Feltham and also between Feltham and Richmond.

These are digital signals and according to Network Rail, they will increase the capacity, which must surely allow the extra trains between Kew Bridge and Hounslow stations.

This signalling project finishes in mid-2024, so I suspect by then the Southern part of the West London Orbital Railway will not have any problems with interaction with other services.

The Feltham And Wokingham Resignalling Programme could be considered an important enabling sub-project of the West London Orbital Railway, that is being performed early.

Richmond Station

As I came through Richmond station, there was an Overground train in Platform 3 and I noticed that Platforms 3 to 5 were allocated to the Overground.

Has the new signalling given Network Rail and train operators more flexibility and extra capacity at Richm0nd?

Currently, the London Overground runs four trains per hour (tph)  between Stratford and Richmond.

The increased flexibility may allow the following.

  • An increase in frequency of trains to Stratford.
  • An increase in frequency of District Line trains, if Ealing Broadway station swaps from being a District to a Piccadilly Line terminus, as I wrote about in Extending The Elizabeth Line – Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway.
  • Could Richmond also act as a terminal of the West London Orbital Railway during construction and engineering works?

Another benefit that could be arranged is to run the current four tph London Overground services into Platform 3.

These pictures show a Waterloo-bound South Western Railway train in Platform 2 and a Stratford-bound London Overground train in Platform 3.

As there are 8 tph between Richmond and Waterloo via Clapham Junction, this could be quite a useful cross-platform interchange for passengers going from say Staines or Windsor to Hampstead.



  • The three most likely Northern termini are Brent Cross West, Hendon and West Hampstead Thameslink.
  • There could be other terminals on the North London Line or the Gospel Oak and Barking Line.
  • All possible Northern terminals have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The two most likely Southern terminals are Hounslow and Kew Bridge.
  • There may be other possible Southern terminals like Twickenham or Richmond.
  • All possible Southern terminals have 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The sections without electrification of the route is less than twelve miles.
  • The ORR won’t allow any new third-rail electrification.

It looks like the trains will need to be dual-voltage with a battery capability.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over twelve years ago, so I suspect Bombardier or Alstom have refined the concept.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So for a four-car running for twelve miles, the train would need a battery capacity of between 144 and 240 kWh.

These are not large batteries.

I suspect that the best trains for the route, will be dual-voltage Class 710 trains.

  • The Class 710/2 variant used on the Gospel Oak and Barking Line is dual-voltage.
  • London Overground has 54 Class 710 trains.
  • I am certain, that the batteries needed can be fitted to the trains.
  • Aventras are still in production in Derby.

A test battery-electric version could probably be created and tested on the short Romford and Upminster Line.

There may be other places in London and the rest of the UK, where a four-car battery-electric Aventra would be the ideal train.




April 20, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Syon Lane Station – 7th December 2020

The step-free footbridge at Syon Lane station has been completed and open for some time now.

I took these pictures today.


  1. The footbridge only has one lift on Platform 2.
  2. The step-free route to Platform 1 is a level footpath, which leads to the bus stop.
  3. There are three sets of stairs, two to Platform 2 and one to Platform 1.
  4. There is also a seat designed for Covid-19.

My first post on this project was Syon Lane Station To Go Step-Free, which was posted on April 30, 2019.

These smaller rail projects must be built in a more timely manner.

December 7, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Syon Lane Station – 26th May 2020

These pictures show the current state of Syon Lane station.

A few questions.

Is The Station Complete?

The stairs are blocked off, but most appears complete. Perhaps, serious testing of the lifts are needed.

Has the testing been held up by COVID-19?

Will There Be A Second Lift Tower?

As the walkway is still closed off, I couldn’t check at the top, but it does look there is space for a second lift tower on the London-bound platform.

What Is Happening Behind The London-Bound Platform?

Behind the London-bound platform is a patch of waste land and some scruffy garages.

Is the site being cleared? And to what purpose?


May 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Syon Lane Station – 24th February 2020

These pictures show the current state of the new footbridge at Syon Lane station.

In my last post on the 4th of January, I said this.

I  would have thought, it could have been more integrated with the road bridge. Perhaps that is to be replaced?

It does look like the footbridge is being integrated with the road bridge.

  • The entrance will lead to a walkway to the lifts and across the tracks.
  • The tower, lift and stairs on the Hounslow-bound platform have been installed.
  • Note the brackets on the steel-work, where the walkway across the tracks will connect.
  • Stairs will lead down from the walkway on the London-bound platform.
  • I would assume that a tower and lift will be built for the London-bound platform on the opposite side to the tracks. It looks like foundations could be being dug!

I think it is one of those designs that could be filed under Not Very Pretty, But It Works!

I also feel that the design of the footbridge has been influenced by the need to build it easily, as in constructing most bridges of this type, the towers are often built first.

But with this bridge, the second tower might get in the way of installing the walkway across the tracks.

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Syon Lane Station – 4th January 2020

These pictures show the current state of the new footbridge at Syon Lane station.

I must admit that ~I’m rather disappointed with the design of this footbridge.

The design is rather utilitarian.

I would have thought, it could have been more integrated with the road bridge. Perhaps that is to be replaced?

Perhjaps it will be better, when it is finished.

I remember, when they started to build it, that land was cleared further up the platforms. Has there been a rethink, in the middle of the project?

January 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Syon Lane Station – 28th October 2019

Work seems to be progressing slowing on the footbridge at Syon Lane station.

The foundations seem substantial, which perhaps indicates that the bridge won’t be a simple prefabricated one, but more one with brick towers and a heavy steel bridge.

Could this bridge be being built in the same style as the new bridge at Ewell West station, which I described in Ewell West Station Has A New Step-Free Footbridge?

October 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Progress At Syon Lane Station – 18th September 2019

The builders are now digging on both platforms at Syon Lane station.

The posters at the station give the impression that brick towers might be built.

But it looks to my untrained eye, that the foundations being dug don’t appear to be deep enough.

Waiting at the station for my train, I wondered, if they are going to put a set of stairs and a life on both platforms to give step-free access to the existing road bridge.

  • The towers would be shorter and height costs money.
  • There would be no need to build and lift in an additional bridge, as pedestrians would use the existing pavement.
  • It might be possible to do all the work without closing the railway.
  • This would meet all the step-free regulations.

There certainly seems to be no work going on further down the platform, where it appeared some trees were cleared.

It’ll all come clear in a few weeks and I suspect it will meet the generally high standards of Network Rail.


September 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Progress At Syon Lane Station – 8th September 2019

It looks like the builders have started to dig the foundations for the step-free footbridge at Syon Lane station.

I wonder, if the digging further down the platform indicates that there has been a change of design.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Progress At Syon Lane Station – 27th August 2019

At last, something seems to be happening about erecting the new step-free footbridge at Syon Lane station.

Easily spotted are the following.

  • An access road seems to have been fenced off.
  • The tea huts and the toilets have arrived.
  • Some scraping and digging has commenced by the down platform
  • There is a poster saying finish, will be by the end of the year.

Nothing seems to have happened on the up platform.

It also seems strange that no building materials appear to have been delivered.

Could it just be that a concrete slab will be created on the down platform and on the up platform, the two advertising hoarding will be removed to create space for the bridge tower and stairs?

A prefabricated bridge, built off-site, will then be lifted in.

It’s the only way, that the bridge could be built by the promised completion date of the end of the year.



August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

No Progress At Syon Lane Station

I visited Syon Lane station this morning and there has been no progress on the footbridge, that Network Rail say will be installed by late summer.

Over the weekend various works were done along the line, including some conductor rail replacement.

There’s another blockade next weekend, so I’ll see what happens then!


The longer it goes without any visible progress, does it make it more likely, that some form of prefabricated bridge will be assembled like giant Lego?

I can’t see how, if a traditional footbridge is used, it can be built to their timescale.

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment