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Project : Domestic and international high speed rail

Article date 17 October 2011
Revised 02 October 2014

North Acton to Shepherds Bush : Aylesbury Interchange to Brighton

A railway line from the national rail lines passing North Acton station to Shepherds Bush would open up the possibility of conventional rail services via Clapham Junction and Kensington (Olympia) to Aylesbury Interchange (AI). This would offer the possibility of longer-distance services e.g. from Brighton to Aylesbury Interchange (AI), thereby further improving the already good connectivity of Aylesbury Interchange (AI). In turn, this would improve the integration of the High Speed 2 line into the overall rail network and thereby strengthen the prospects of commercial success for High Speed 2.

North Acton to Shepherds Bush : construction

We note there used to be a railway line connecting North Acton to Shepherds Bush. There is plenty of evidence of this former line. For example, the bridge carrying the Central Line over Old Oak Common Lane accommodates 4 tracks. Another example is the unused tracks beside East Acton station. A further example is the footbridge opposite Hammersmith Hospital to Bentworth Road. This footbridge is of sufficient span to cross all former tracks and amply demonstrates where building on the former line has occurred. The former line would seem to be clear of development from alongside North Acton station to alongside East Acton station and beyond to opposite Wormwood Scrubs except for the westernmost extremity of the sidings formerly used as part of North Pole depot : a modern concrete structure can be seen whilst travelling on the Central Line from North Acton to East Acton. To re-use the former alignment, this structure would need to be removed, reducing the length of the sidings at North Pole Depot.

North Pole Depot is planned to become a depot for the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). The required use or not of the full length available i.e. at the westernmost extremity is, in our opinion, a matter of urgency. If the full length is required, a platform or bridging structure would be needed to enable re-opening of the formerly-used national rail lines alongside North Acton station to alongside East Acton station. This platform or bridging structure would best be constructed prior to re-use of North Pole Depot.

From opposite Wormwood Scrubs to the vicinity of the A40, multiple blocks of flats have been built on the former alignment, also a garage and dual-storey sheltered accommodation. A proposal to demolish all of this would seem to be unlikely, even though the blocks of flats would not seem to be high points of architectural beauty. Alternatives would need to be investigated.

A connecting line from North Acton to Shepherds Bush might merge with the existing Central Line to the east of East Acton station and diverge from it as the Central Line passes beneath the A40 fly-over. From here, the former alignment could be re-opened by relocating or reorganising transport/goods businesses that use space in proximity to the fly-over (themselves accessed by turning off Wood Lane immediately to the north of White City station). Thus, we might anticipate a connecting line sharing a short stretch of track with the Central Line to the east of East Acton station and to the north of White City station. Services on this connecting line would not pass through any underground station, the track sharing being entirely confined to a stretch between two adjacent underground stations.

A potential issue with this proposition is the headroom available on the existing underground lines as they pass under a slip road that leads onto the A40 fly-over. The matter can be viewed in the vicinity of a footpath that enables pedestrians to pass under the A40 fly-over i.e. alongside Wood Lane. This could be achieved by stepping onto a road at the point where the Underground lines are crossed but in good view of cars and should be undertaken with care. (We cannot accept responsibility for anyone doing so.)

A second issue is the frequency of services, given track sharing with underground services, as also with other services on the line via Kensington (Olympia).

There are almost certainly other means of constructing a connecting line from North Acton to Shepherds Bush. An alternative alignment might run alongside the former North Pole depot. This would require analysis of the curvature of such a line from alongside North Acton station to alongside the former North Pole depot, particularly if it were anticipated to use the alignment of the former line beneath the Great Western Main Line. This is in the immediate vicinity of the proposed Old Oak Common station - but for which, we suggest, Aylesbury Interchange is a preferable replacement.

A further alternative might be to run parallel to the Great Western Main Line but on the northern side of it, then joining onto the line to Shepherds Bush. Other possibilities include the use of tunnelling.


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