081/270: #NorthWembley – The New Lines

What has been so fascinating about this project is not only is it dragging me round areas of London I would perhaps never have visited, it’s also enabling me to discover and learn the histories and origins of unfamiliar lines. I must admit for me, this stretch of the Bakerloo Line has never garnered much interest but scratch beneath the surface and this is a truly fascinating part of the network.

You’ll notice, like here at North Wembley, that the West Coast Mainline and it’s trains are rushing by us – something which started back at Queens Park and will continue all the way up to Harrow & Wealdstone. Now express lines running next to suburban ones is nothing new, but the manner in which it works here is routed in something very clever.

We’re running on part of the original London & North Western Railway route from Euston to Birmingham constructed in 1837 – a route which is a whopping 180 years old. Naturally back then, London was much smaller and the first calling point after Euston was not until Harrow. As London and it’s suburbs grew it was realised that the LNWR’s flagship route, slicing its way through Willesden and Wembley, was missing out on potential urban traffic. Instead of simply erecting some new stations along its route, in 1912 the LNWR constructed two completely new tracks parallelling, but running completely isolated of, their existing infrastructure. Suburban traffic would therefore not interfere with the smooth running of their express services in what was at the time an incredibly well thought out bit of forward planning. This is in contrast to the Metropolitain Railway which, to this day, has to put up with fast and slow services sharing the same facilities – certainly between Moor Park and Amersham at least. It’s this New Lines scheme that today hosts the Bakerloo Line to Harrow and Overground to Watford, with this Victorian bit of planning going a long way to ensuring the smooth running of both urban and intercity traffic. in North London

Image copyright A Carter – CallingAllStations.co.uk

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