New Guildford Line

New Guildford Line
Type Suburban rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Surrey
South East England

London Victoria

London Waterloo
Opened 1885
Owner Network Rail

South West Trains

Rolling stock Class 377, Class 455
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

New Guildford Line

Waterloo London Underground London River Services
Vauxhall London Underground
Clapham Junction London Overground
(for intermediate stations, see SWML)
Wimbledon London Underground Tramlink
Sutton & Mole Valley Line

Kingston Bypass


Hampton Court Branch Line

SWML, Portsmouth Direct Line

Hinchley Wood
Esher Bypass
Cobham & Stoke D'Abernon

River Mole
Sutton & Mole Valley Line
River Mole
Bookham Tunnel (90 m)

Effingham Junction
London Road (Guildford)

River Wey

ND Line, Portsmouth Direct Line
North Downs Line
Portsmouth Direct Line

The New Guildford Line, presently operated by South West Trains, 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 one (inbound) morning service and one (outbound) evening service non-stop between Surbiton and Waterloo. Off-peak services run only twice per hour (once on Sundays) and are considerably slower, stopping at intermediate stations between Surbiton and Waterloo.

The line was electrified using the 750 V DC third rail system as far as Claygate in 1916 and for the full route to Guildford in 1925.

Current services

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:
London Waterloo
Clapham Junction
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 West Trains 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 submitted an application to Elmbridge Council[1] to extend the platforms at Hinchley Wood, Claygate, Oxshott and Cobham by between 47 m and 54 m to take 10-car trains as part of the Q4 2012/13 network rail plan that also includes platform lengthening at Effingham Junction, Horsley, Clandon and London Road.[2]


The 'New Line', originally referred to as the "Guildford, New Line", was opened on 2 February 1885 by the London and South Western Railway.[3] Successor companies to run the line were the Southern Railway, British Rail (Southern Region, later Network SouthEast), and presently South West Trains. A note on the geology of the line at the Guildford end was made by Goodwin-Austen in 1884.[4] 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.[5] 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".[6]

Electric train service and its development since 1916

Oxshott railway station on the New Guildford Line.

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 the 20th November 1916.[7] The journey from Claygate to Guildford was then a steam hauled service.[8] The journey to 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.[9] The First World War halted the LSWR’s electrification program, .[10] 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 the 12th of July 1925.[11]

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.[12] From electrification to the early 1960s train stock was formed of 3 and latterly 4 car 3-SUB and 4-SUB units – see Southern Electric Railway Assn (which erroneously states that these units were withdrawn in the 1950s).[13] In the early 1940s a new 4-SUB was introduced, as shown in this photo by the Southern Railways Group[14] Subsequently, following world war 2, a large number of a sleeker design of 4-SUB was made as shown by Hart[15] and Law.[16] It is not known if this type of unit was used on the line in its early years, but presumably so. 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 – a real benefit to users of the 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.[17] (This reference needs confirming – see photo at[18] which shows a supposed Reigate line train with an H-bar headcode, and it is not clear if this photo is truly from the Reigate line or whether the previous reference is to this photo and erroneously assumes that the headcode indicates a Guildford via Cobham train). The line received the first post second world war 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 – a Southern Electric Group Video gives an idea of what a journey in one of these units was like.[19] One of the new electric trains in the 1950s is illustrated in (Sep 1959 The Railway Magazine).[20] 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.[21] 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.[22] Owing to a shortage of this stock on the stopping services between Waterloo and Woking[23] 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.[24] During this period of first-class service, a number of trains ran as stopping services to and from Portsmouth with an 84 headcode (see next paragraph). 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[25] and 2-LAV/2-BIL units[26] and[27] 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 (and most likely a main line route 80 service diverted due to engineering works) is shown between Hampton Court Junction and Hinchley Wood in reference[28] 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.[29] This same unit (5001) repainted in its original colour is shown at London Bridge station in 1993 – it was scrapped the following year.[30] This unit would no doubt be shocked to know that the 21-minute journey time it 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.[31]

Mitchell and Smith have published a book on the line.[32]

Proposed extension to the line

Since the mid-1990s it has been proposed that part of the former Guildford to Horsham line should be reopened[33] as far as Cranleigh with an intermediate stop at Bramley and Wonersh. In 2009 a national report put this proposal firmly in place, but recent government spending constraints would appear to make this proposal unlikely to be implemented for many years.[34] Ironically, these two stations were never part of the LSWR, the original builder and operator for many years of the New Guildford line, even though Bramley, Wonersh and Cranleigh are some of the closest villages close to the end of the New Guildford line. If this extension is eventually made to the line, it would seem most appropriate for regular nonstop service from Surbiton to Wimbledon or Waterloo using the fast lines to be restored so that the journey time from London to Cranleigh would not be onerously long.

Current Rolling Stock

Currently the Services to Guildford and London Waterloo are using South West Trains Class 455 sets built in the early to mid-1980s, which have now all undergone an extensive refurbishment program which was completed in 2008.

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[35] 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.[36] 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.[37] The lorry driver and one passenger suffered serious injuries; a further five passengers suffered minor injuries.[38]


  1. [Date of Issue: 09/05/2011 Weekly List No: 2011/18 ]
  2. "CP4 Delivery Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  3. [A regional history of the railways of Great Britain: Greater London, DSG Thomas et al 1987 Volume 3 – Page 127]
  4. Godwin-Austen, H. H. (1884). "On the New Railway-Cutting at Guildford:--The Pleistocene Sands and Drift-Gravels observed there". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. 40 (1–4): 599–613. doi:10.1144/GSL.JGS.1884.40.01-04.50.
  5. [See Google maps 51.381729N,0.333372W]
  6. The Railway Magazine Vol XXIII July–December 1908 p521. Google Books. 1 January 1909. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  7. "Suburban Electric Railway Association". Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  8. "Text from Electric Railway J Nov 11, 1916 London Letter Section" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  9. "reference to ELECTRIC RAILWAY JOURNAL [VOL. XLIX, No. 1". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  10. "Suburban Electric Railway Association". Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  11. "Merrow Residents' Assn Iss 22 Autumn 2007". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  12. "New facilities at Effingham Junction, David Attoe [Windhoff" (PDF). Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  13. "Suburban Electric Railway Association – History Zone – Southern Suburban Electrification". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  14. Ironclad Corridor First from Phoenix Kits Archived 21 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "Class 405". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  16. Green 4SUB 4632 in platform 9 at Victoria, 1982 :: glc_-_green_4sub_4732_victoria_82_JL.jpg :: Fotopic.Net
  17. "Southern Electric Group". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  18. "Mike's Railway History". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  19. SEG Souvenir Video 1991 – (A better reference is sought)
  20. "E:\SEmG RM Storage\RA-GVC-1a.jpg" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  21. "Hansard 5 July 1974 vol 876 cc905-16". 5 July 1974. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  22. "Southern Electric Group". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  24. British Rail Class 423
  25. "SEG 4Cor Unit 3142". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  26. "Southern Electric Group". 10 September 1958. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  27. "Southern Electric Group". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  28. "Led by 4BUF No. 3080, a down Waterloo-Portsmouth express traverses the Guildford New Line at Hinchley Wood". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  29. "Suburban Electric Railway Association – History Zone – Southern Suburban Electrification". 1 January 1948. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  30. "Class 415/416: 2/4 EPB". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  31. File:3417 Eastleigh 100.JPG
  32. "Middleton Press". Middleton Press. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  33. "Waverly Council". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  34. Connecting Communities
  35. "Southern Railway Buffer Stop Collisions, Report to Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Major G L Hall" (PDF). HM Stationery Office. 18 August 1925.
  36. "British Railways Southern Accident Report, Report to Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Brig C A Langley" (PDF). HM Stationery Office. 18 January 1954.
  37. "Several injured as lorry falls on to a train". BBC News. 5 November 2010.
  38. "Investigation into an accident involving a heavy goods vehicle and a train near Oxshott, Surrey, on 5 November 2010". Rail Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 9 November 2010.

Further reading

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