|New Guildford line|
|Type||Suburban rail, Heavy rail|
South East England
|Operator(s)||South Western Railway Southern|
|Rolling stock||Class 377, Class 455, Class 456|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
New Guildford line
The New Guildford line, presently operated by South Western Railway, is a commuter line between London and Guildford. It branches off the South Western Main Line just south of Surbiton, at the same point as the short branch line to Hampton Court. On timetables, trains on this route are advertised as going to Guildford via Cobham.
Rush hour services provide two (inbound) morning services and one (outbound) evening service non-stop between Surbiton and Waterloo. Off-peak services run only twice per hour (once on Sundays) and are slower, stopping at all intermediate stations except between Surbiton and Wimbledon.
At present on Monday to Saturday there are two trains per hour to Guildford. All services on the line call at all stations on the line between Surbiton and Guildford. These trains also stop at the following stations between London Waterloo and Surbiton:
There is one additional train during the morning peak period to London and conversely in the evening to Guildford on weekdays. This extra train runs non-stop between London Waterloo and Surbiton in both directions. On Sundays there is just one train per hour in each direction.
South Western Railway also operates another service from Waterloo to Guildford which runs via the Mole Valley line between Raynes Park and Leatherhead then follows the branch through Bookham and joins the New Guildford line at Effingham Junction and runs in parallel with the Cobham trains to the terminus at Guildford. Southern Railway also operates peak time services between Guildford and Effingham Junction. These trains go to London Victoria and London Bridge via Sutton and West Croydon, with one train per hour in each direction on both routes.
On 9 May 2011 Network Rail applied to the local planning authority to extend the platforms at Hinchley Wood, Claygate, Oxshott and Cobham to take 10-car trains as part of a 2012/13 Network Rail plan that applies likewise to Effingham Junction, Horsley, Clandon and London Road.
The 'New Line', originally referred to as the "Guildford, New Line", was opened on 2 February 1885 by the London and South Western Railway. Successor companies to run the line were the Southern Railway, British Rail (Southern Region, later Network SouthEast), South West Trains, and presently South Western Railway. A note on the geology of the line at the Guildford end was made by Goodwin-Austen in 1884. Originally the line left the main line at Hampton Court Junction with two parallel tracks off the main line. The bridge just south of the down line junction is to this day big enough for two tracks when it now only has to accommodate one track. In 1908 the up line was diverted under the main line to reduce congestion. Details of this venture were noted in The Railway Magazine in 1908 which referred to the bringing into use of a "new burrowing line".
Electric train service and its development since 1916
The section of the New Guildford line from London Waterloo to Claygate was the final suburban electrification carried out by the London and South Western Railway, with the first services on 20 November 1916. The journey from Claygate to Guildford was then a steam hauled service. The journey from Waterloo to Claygate took 29 minutes on commencement of the electric service which was supplemented by steam hauled services during the mornings and evenings. The First World War halted the LSWR’s electrification program, and the Claygate to Guildford electrification was completed under the auspices of the Southern Railway, with the first electric train arriving at Guildford station on 12 July 1925.
Currently electric train stock is kept and serviced at Durnsford Road depot, Wimbledon and formerly at Effingham Junction. The latter depot was closed in 1990 and has been refurbished as a servicing centre for track maintenance Multiple Purpose Vehicles (MPV) for AMEC SPIE and Railtrack. From electrification to the early 1960s train stock was formed of 3 and latterly 4 car 3-SUB and 4-SUB units. In the early 1940s a new 4-SUB was introduced, as shown in this photo by the Southern Railways Group. Subsequently, following World War 2, a large number of a sleeker design of 4-SUB was made as shown by Hart and Law. For a while in the late 1950s and 1960s the line was the only route from Waterloo that had 4-SUB units substituted by EPB units. For many years new train stock was tested for long periods on this route. New mainline 4LAV units were tried out in public service in the spring of 1932 on the Waterloo – Cobham – Guildford route, where the best known publicity shot was taken of an unidentifiable unit carrying headcode H with a bar above. The line received the first post-World War 2 EPB (Electro Pneumatic Brake) electric stock that became the standard for British Railways Southern Region for many years. In January 1952, 4EPB set number 5001 entered service on the line. One of the new electric trains in the 1950s is illustrated in (Sep 1959 The Railway Magazine).
For a brief period starting in October 1973, first class service was provided but the number of seats was much reduced from the former second class only stock (772 to 560 seats) and this resulted in much dissatisfaction – not least of which from people who paid for first class and had crowds of second-class passengers, who had no space, join them in their compartments. However, for most of the life of the New Guildford line only second (formerly known as third) or standard-class service has been available. First-class train stock was of the 4VEP type (latterly designated class 423), a typical 4VEP in 1970s livery is shown at. Owing to a shortage of this stock on the stopping services between Waterloo and Woking first-class service was abruptly withdrawn and second-class only service reinstated. Typical first and second-class 4VEP EMU (Electric Multiple Units) trains used on this line are illustrated at. During this period of first-class service, a number of trains ran as stopping services to and from Portsmouth with an 84 headcode. The abrupt withdrawal of first-class service can be seen with hindsight as marking the end of a very high standard of service on the Cobham line. Since this time, service intervals and journey times have disintegrated on the line, and the quality of stock has never been better than other suburban routes, as it had been in the past. Very occasionally during times of disrupted working, 4-COR and 2-LAV/2-BIL units and that had been displaced from the main line would be seen – the former causing substantial delays owing to the lack of doors for quick rush-hour loading.
Trains show a headcode of 42 on the front to identify this route. Prior to 1962 old train stock showed a headcode of H with a bar on top. Non-stop trains occasionally run on this route when there are track works on the main line that runs via Woking. The route codes seen in this case are 84 Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour and 74 to Portsmouth and Southsea. Prior to 1967 the respective codes were 5 and 6. A Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour train with a 6 headcode composed of a buffet car set 4BUF leading one or two 4COR sets is shown between Hampton Court Junction and Hinchley Wood in reference The 42 code has never changed. A photograph of the very first EPB unit manufactured at the Eastleigh works, number 5001, with 42 headcode has been published on the web by the Suburban Electric Railway Association. This same unit (5001) repainted in its original colour is shown at London Bridge station in 1993 – it was scrapped the following year. The 21-minute journey time that the unit consistently provided daily for years from Waterloo to Hinchley Wood, the first station on the branch line, is now typically 10 minutes longer using modern train stock that is 50 years its younger – see BR SR Timetable June 1966 vs. 2010 National Rail Lv Waterloo 17:32 (exactly same time) Arr Hinchley Wood in 1966 at 17:51, in 2010 at 18:05. Although a 4CIG, a photograph taken at Eastleigh in 2009 shows what a 4VEP with headcode 42 looked like when working this route in the 1970s.
Current rolling stock
Currently the Services to Guildford and London Waterloo are using South Western Railway Class 455 sets built in the early to mid-1980s, which have now all undergone an extensive refurbishment program which was completed in 2008. Refurbished 2 car sets of Class 456 formerly in service with Southern (Railway), have been used since 2017 to extend peak hour services and some off peak services to 10 car operation.
Accidents and their significance
Shortly after the line to Guildford was electrified there were three minor accidents. In each case the drivers lost control of their trains due to unfamiliarity with the new style Westinghouse brake equipment. These incidents happened on 16, 23 and 31 July. The report of the Ministry of Transport Inspector notes that the trains were coming into the new Bay platform (now platform 1) at Guildford. This platform had recently been installed for the new electric service to Guildford via Cobham. (The main line was not electrified until 1937). The report refers to the present platform 2 at Guildford as being the "down Cobham platform" – from the days of steam. This is once again the case today, owing to the large number of trains to Guildford that are routed via Bookham in recent timetables. But, for many years from 1925 until quite recently, platform 2 was only normally used by down fast Portsmouth trains. The Bay platform was sufficient to cater to the electric service via Cobham, given that services to Guildford via Bookham were rare as trains via Bookham usually terminated at Effingham Junction.
On 18 September there was another incident of the same type as in 1925 when a driver overshot the buffers and ran into the station offices, killing the assistant station master. Once again the driver was not familiar with the new type of brakes that had been introduced with the new train stock – this time 1951 electro pneumatic brake electric multiple units. The report notes that the 4EPB units had been gradually introduced from 1951 and that all trains on the line were at that point of this type. The train was the 3:12 pm from Waterloo which stopped at Wimbledon, Surbiton and then all stations down the branch line. It arrived at Guildford at 4:0 pm (sic, and standard terminology at the time for 4:00 pm or 16:00). (Note the scheduled arrival time would have been 4:04 pm which accords more with the statement in the report that fire engines arrived within 4 minutes and the first ambulance at 4:10, but in any case this is not relevant to the accident as excessive speed was not considered as a cause).
On 5 November 2010, a lorry fell off a bridge over the railway line near Oxshott railway station, landing on the 3:05 pm South West Trains service from Guildford to London Waterloo. The lorry driver and one passenger suffered serious injuries; a further five passengers suffered minor injuries.
- South Western Railway publication, 'Train Times 10 December 2017 to 19 May 2018' (Pub ref: PTT11 1217)
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- [See Google maps 51.381729N,0.333372W]
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