The End of an Era on the South London Line

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With the opening of the London Overground Service from Clapham Junction to Dalston Junction it is time to say goodbye to the South London Line.

The line provided a direct link between the London Brighton and South Coast Railways City and West End termini. Prior to the introduction of electric trams in the 1890s up to eight million passengers a year travelled on this route. The trams bit hard into those numbers however, and by 1908 there were less than three million.

Electrification over the largely elevated route was the railway company’s competitive response. Initially electrified at 6700 Volts 25 Hertz (the power supplied by the London Electricity Supply Corporation’s power station at Deptford) the new faster, cleaner trains soon recouped all traffic losses and played a major role in convincing the management that wider electrification should be undertaken.

Following Southern Railway’s decision to adopt the London and South Western’s third rail system, the South London line, together with rest of the LB&SC network, was converted to DC. Most recently the line has been home to the distinctive class 456 EMUs – which probably formed the shortest trains now running into any central London termini – running on a half hourly basis.

So for one last time let us take a trip along the line…

With the crash deck in place, ready for the London Bridge reconstruction programme to begin, it was not possible to take non-flash images at the station and so we must join the train at Oueens Road Peckham just south of the new Overground Connection. At the time of photography, the station signage carried no suggestion of imminent change.

Signage at Queens Road

Signage at Queens Road

An Unforgettable EMU

An Unforgettable EMU

Crossing under the Catford Loop, the train runs on the Up Atlantic line to Denmark Hill where major works are underway to improve disabled access.

Work underway at Denmark Hill

Work underway at Denmark Hill

The bad news is that, with work still underway, the station’s stairs remain daunting for those of us less youthfully inclined.

Platform level at Denmark Hill

Platform level at Denmark Hill

The good news is that at the top of the stairs there is a pub inset into the former station building.

The Phoenix, Denmark Hill

The Phoenix, Denmark Hill

Leaving Denmark Hill the train passes over Brixton Station and on to Clapham High Street, which together with Wandsworth Road will become London Overground stations. Interspersed with the South London Line trains and the 775m long freight trains, the final crew training runs for the Overground are taking place.

Freight at Wandsworth Road

Freight at Wandsworth Road

A 378 At Wandsworth Road

A 378 At Wandsworth Road

A short running 456 pulls into Wandsworth Road. To regain lost time and to avoid knock on effects at Victoria, reversing at Battersea Park is a regular feature.

A 456 pulls into Wandsworth Road

A 456 pulls into Wandsworth Road

Outside the station, a soon to be redundant sign is observed by the driver – no more 2 car trains will run on this route.

A two-car 456

A two-car 456

A 378 emerges at Factory Junction bound for London Bridge…

A 378 emerges at Factory Junction bound for London Bridge

A 378 emerges

…To be quickly followed by a 378 crew trainer off to Clapham Junction

378 on crew training

378 on crew training

Reversed short at Battersea Park 456017 makes a quick turn round.

456017 at Battersea Park

456017 at Battersea Park

The closure of the route will probably see Battersea Park’s wooden floored platform taken out of service.

The wooden platform at Battersea Park

The wooden platform at Battersea Park

Finally, at Victoria the trains that do make it beyond Battersea Park are normally stabled at the country end, enabling a stabled train to occupy the platform. An abiding memory of those who used the service will probably be the compulsory jog from the barriers upon late announcement of the platform.

456017 at Victoria

456017 at Victoria

You can find more photos from our South London Line goodbye in the London Reconnections Photo Pool.

Written by Mwmbwls