West Anglia Main Line - A
West Anglia Main Line - A
The West Anglia Main Line is one of the two main lines that operate out of Liverpool Street (the other being the Great Eastern Main Line to Ipswich and Norwich). It runs generally north through Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Audley End (near Saffron Walden) to Cambridge, with branches between serving Stratford, Hertford and Stansted Airport. The line runs along the boundary between Hertfordshire and Essex for much of its length.
In the early years, the line was the main route from London to Cambridge. Following the opening of the Cambridge Line between Hitchin and Cambridge, the West Anglia Main Line is now primarily a commuter route for stations between Cambridge and London. It was an important goods route for many years as the southern end of a route from coalfields in Yorkshire, and there are still freight trains which run occasionally to Harlow and Rye House Power Station, along with a Network Rail base at Broxbourne.
West Anglia Main Line History
The first section was built for the Northern and Eastern Railway from Stratford to Broxbourne and opened in 1840. It was extended northwards in stages, reaching Spellbrook, 3 miles (5 km) short of Bishops Stortford, in 1842. In 1843 the line reached Bishops Stortford, and in the following year the Northern and Eastern Railway was leased by the Eastern Counties Railway. It was this railway company opened the section from Bishops Stortford to Cambridge as part of its extension to Ely and Brandon in 1845.
By the 1860s the railways in East Anglia were in financial trouble, and most were leased to the Eastern Counties Railway. Although they wished to amalgamate formally, they could not obtain government agreement for this until 1862, when the Great Eastern Railway (GER) was formed by amalgamation.
The opening of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway in 1882 saw the Great Eastern open up a direct link with coal-producing areas in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire joining the line north of Cambridge at Chesterton Junction, generally routed to the large marshalling yards at Temple Mills.
Following the grouping in 1923 the line became part of the London & North Eastern Railway.
In 1948 following nationalisation the line passed to British Railways Eastern Region.
In 1952 the branch from Elsenham to Thaxted (known as the "Gin & Toffee Line") closed to passengers, and goods services were withdrawn a year later. The Saffron Walden line closed to passengers on 7 September 1964 and to freight three months later.
Electrification first came in the early 1960s under British Rail in sections. Electrification to Chingford included the Stratford – Lea Bridge – Hall Farm Junction section (although this was never completed), and the line from Liverpool Street to Broxbourne via Seven Sisters and the Southbury Loop was electrified. The route via Tottenham Hale was still operated by diesel traction, the British Rail Class 125 'Lea Valley' DMUs.
The line from Clapton Junction (on the Chingford line) through Tottenham Hale to Cheshunt and from Broxbourne to Bishops Stortford was electrified on 9 March 1969 and from there to Cambridge in 1987. Stratford to Coppermill Junction was electrified in 1989. The power supply is 25 kV AC overhead line.
In 1991, a single-track branch line to Stansted Airport was opened, and services to London Liverpool Street commenced.
In early 2011, ticket barriers were installed at Bishop's Stortford, Harlow Town, Broxbourne, Cheshunt and Hackney Downs, some of the busiest stations on the line, to reduce the need for ticket inspectors on the Stansted Express service and reduce fare evasion.
In May 2015, services from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt via Seven Sisters transferred to London Overground, along with a new station opening at Lea Bridge. In August the same year, a direct covered walkway opened between Hackney Downs and Hackney Central on the North London Line.
In September 2019, the Lea Valley Rail Project was completed between Lea Bridge, and the new station at Meridian Water. This removed the level crossing at Northumberland Park, and added a new third platform for both there and Tottenham Hale, along with a third track.
As a result of the new 720 and 745, platform extensions are necessary at many stations to allow for ten/twelve car trains to stop at stations respectively. However, the class 720 has selective door opening, allowing for some platforms not having to be extended.
West Anglia Main Line Overview
West Anglia Main Line Status: Operational
Owner: Network Rail
West Anglia Main Line Locale:
East of England
West Anglia Main Line Termini:
Liverpool Street, London
West Anglia Main Line Stations: 28
West Anglia Main Line Service Type: Commuter rail, Suburban rail
West Anglia Main Line System: National Rail
West Anglia Main Line Operator(s):
West Anglia Main Line Rolling Stock:
Class 170 "Turbostar"
Class 710 "Aventra"
Class 720 "Aventra"
Class 745 "FLIRT"
Class 755 "FLIRT"
West Anglia Main Line Number of Tracks: 2–4
West Anglia Main Line Track Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge
West Anglia Main Line Electrification: 25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE
West Anglia Main Line Operating Speed: 80 mph (130 km/h) maximum