An old railway line currently used for cargo trains could be converted into passenger use, linking parts of West London currently poorly served by rail services.
The little used railway line runs from just north of Cricklewood on the Thameslink line and loops around West London, ever so slightly just missing aligning with a number of stations on existing lines until it join up with the London Overground at Acton.
A consortium of local councils, the West London Economic Prosperity Board has now endorsed a plan to convert the freight railway tracks into passenger services and create what could be an extension of the London Overground service.
The Dudding Hill Line is an existing railway line in northwest London running from Acton to Cricklewood. The line itself has had no scheduled passenger service for over a century. It has no stations, no electrification and a 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) speed limit with semaphore signalling, and is lightly used by freight and very occasional passenger charter trains.
A feasibility study found that a scheme to convert it into passenger use is technically feasible with a significant level of latent passenger demand and strong value for money. It also has the potential to unlock in the region of 15,000 – 20,000 new homes across the sub-region.
The cost is put at somewhere in the region of £250 million, although it could reach as much as £400 million according to how the plans are developed.
If built, the service could see a service run from either the already proposed new station at Brent Cross West, or southwards at West Hampstead, then up to Cricklewood, then divert onto the freight line to run, via “new” stations at Gladstone Park and/or Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, before it joins up with the existing London Overground at Acton Central.
The preferred option has been defined as:
Phase 1: 4 trains per hour from West Hampstead to Hounslow, calling at West Hampstead, Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth, Hounslow.
Phase 2: additional 4 trains per hour from Hendon to Kew Bridge, calling at Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Kew Bridge.
The station at Gladstone Park could see the disused station called Dudding Hill brought back into use, although the likelyhood is that a new station closer to Neasden on the Jubilee line would be favoured for the shorter interchange walk.
There may even be enough space to flip the existing Neasden station southwards and link up with the new Overground line to create a single station linking the two lines.
Whether the funding for that would be available will doubtless depend on getting new housing developers to pick up some of the bill.
The other station, at Harlesden could also see the old station of the same name rebuilt, but again, the freight line runs close to the current Harlesden station, so a combined building would again be likely, this time with just a modest footbridge needed to link the new platforms to the existing station.
A new station at Old Oak Common to tie in with the huge development planned there is self-evident.
The minutes from the West London Economic Prosperity Board earlier this year suggest that the line could be operational by the mid 2020s.