With the start of the new timetable on 9th December 2012 the "South London Line" service
, running from Victoria to London Bridge, via Denmark Hill was withdrawn.
Most of the route is now part of the "overground" services, a confusing group of routes, some of which start from Clapham Junction
. A new platform has been constructed there, now numbered platform 2. The original platform 2 is now platform 1. The original platform 1 was considered unsuitable to use due to the suspect nature of the metal viaduct on which the track used to run, and anyway Railtrack/Network Rail had blocked the trackbed by putting in signal cabinets (shades of North Sheen, where a similar move has blocked the rebuilding and re-instatement of a footbridge to serve North Sheen Station)
. Already the stations on the South London Line now served by the Overground have been rebranded.
The South London Line Electrification
The South London Line service started running in 1866. The line was electrified in 1909 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR). Myth says the line was electrified to ward off competition from electric trams, which had started 3 years earlier. In fact permission to electrify had been given in 1903, the South London Line was chosen as it had closely spaced stations and various obstacles and so would provide a good testing ground for the overhead wire system. The system chosen was a German single phase 6,700 volt AC overhead system. A 15 minute interval service was provided and the journey time reduced by 50% to 24 minutes from Victoria to London Bridge.
The LBSCR became part of the Southern Railway and in 1928 the South London Line was converted to the standard 3rd rail system adopted by the Southern Railway. The carriages were rebuilt and survived in use for another 25 years. The South London Line, however, has a less rosy future and became rundown. East Brixton Station closed in the 1970s at a time of service reductions and the line ended up as a backwater with an hourly service, rush hours only!
The Windsor Lines Passengers Association Connection
In 1987 the Railway Development Society decided to set up the South London Line Travellers Association (SOLLTA) to try to improve the services. In 1989 a newspaper competition declared Clapham High Street station as the winner of the "Grottiest in Britain" station. Campaigning from SOLLTA and Lambeth Council led to British Rail resuming regular services at 30 minute intervals in 1991. Money was used to improve the stations that were still open and in 1996 a Sunday service resumed, the first since 1976. When the faithful 1950s built 2EPB electric trains were replaced by new 2 car 456 units a special day was held. (The 456 units will move to South West Trains in 2014 as part of the ten car scheme) As mentioned above service has now ceased between Victoria and Wandsworth Road and the rest of the line is part of the Overground. A very limited service will run to Battersea Park Station to avoid a closure enquiry.
The mid 1980s was not a good time for railways in Britain, as the Government pursued a policy of forced cost reductions and pro car decisions. One idea was to close the Hounslow Loop and convert the Brentford-Chiswick-Barnes section to a relief road to take the load off the A4 and M4. The Railway Development Society again stepped in and helped set up the Hounslow Line Users Group (HLUG), based closely on the SOLLTA model, albeit without any direct support from local councils. This group has flourished and was renamed the Windsor Lines Passengers Association (WLPA) and expanded it's area to represent a wider set of lines, stations and services.
Thank you South London Lines
If it were not for the Railway Development Society (now called Railfuture) and SOLLTA then the Windsor Lines Passengers Association would not exist. SOLLTA may be no more but the WLPA goes from Strength to Strength.
page updated 2nd May 2017