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The story of Railway Services running into London

London Railway Station architecture with Victorian engineered heritage
London Railway Station architecture with Victorian engineered heritage

1836-38 the first steam railway opened in London called the London and Greenwich Railway (L&GR). 

The First Train Service into London

The first train service into London started back in 1837, London and Greenwich railway. Allot has changed over the subsequent 180 years. Enjoy the train journey on this page, bookmark or join the newsletter on the Homepage as this page will continue to grow.

The new Azuma train next to the last king of high speed rail InterCity 125

7 Mainline Rail Services today

  • Eurostar
  • Southeastern
  • Great Western Railway
  • Southwestern Railway
  • Stansted Express
  • Gatwick Express
  • Heathrow Express

The Early mainline Railway Companies operating in and out of London

Individual railway companies opened at varying stages. The London and Greenwich Railway L&GR.  Was the first steam railway in London and opened in 1836-1838 for passengers and consisted of track that was raised above ground the first of its kind known as elevated railways recognised today as viaducts some 878 brick arches decorated this first elevated Victorian line. Colonel Landman was behind this idea and suggested the arches could be rented out as workshops. Today many railway archways house businesses and trendy spots.  The Victorian era has provided many structures that have served many uses for many years to come.  Bud Flanagan wrote the well-known song “Underneath the arches” about railway arches giving shelter to the homeless men during the depression in the 1930s.  .&& link to another part of site talking about shelters/ eras. &&

The London and Greenwich line ran from Tooley Street London Bridge area, Spa Road which is thought to be the first rail station in London opening Feb 1936  it went onto Deptford which also had the other early station from that year terminating in Greenwich.

London Bridge Station also in Tooley Street opened later that year in December of 1836, most people think of it as one of the oldest still operating station landmarks.

Euston station was planned as the first intercity rail station by George and Robert Stephenson, engineers of the London & Birmingham line(L&BR). It was designed by Philip Hardwick and built by William Cubitt and opened by July 1837*

In 1839 the London and Croydon Railway (L&CR) also using Tooley street and a road that is Rotherhithe Road today. Its station was between London and Greenwich thought to be around London Bridge.

George Bradshaw produced train timetables and travel guides these were released in 1839 and continued to be reprinted till 1961.* Michael Portillo’s TV series about train journeys are inspired by the Bradshaw books.

In 1846 The London and North-western Railway company was set up by merging other lines and companies (LNWR and L&NWR) their headquarters was at Euston railway station. It connected London to towns up north that already had a train network and industries such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Chester, Crewe. Euston station was expanded further during this era with a striking structure featuring an iconic arch “The Great Hall” that was designed by Philip Charles Hardwick and opened in 1849.

By 1859 Euston was able to connect trains to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth. It was a limited mail service but also took a few coaches of passengers. 1873 the first sleeper coach was rolled out and ran from Euston to Glasgow on this limited mail train for 3 nights a week. This soon increased to every night by 1874.

But by now the Underground train network was also already in operation this launched via the Metropolitan railway in 1863 between Paddington & Farringdon* The lines that follow the path of today’s Metropolitan line, Circle and Hammersmith and City line.

The City and South London Railway operated electric underground trains that now form part of the northern line in 1890* Transport museum.

16 London Mainline Stations still running today

The boom of the railways took force in England from the late 1830s  and into 1840s, so much so that in 1840 the HM railway inspectorate was set up and the  1840 Act for Regulating railways.

London has many magnificent stations :

  • London Bridge: Opened  initially at Tooley Street 1836

  • Deptford: 1836

  • Spa Rd into Greenwich: 1836

  • Euston: 1837

  • Paddington: 1838 Expanded across from old site 1854

  • Fenchurch Street: 1841

  • Waterloo: 1848

  • Kings Cross 1852

  • Victoria 1860

  • Cannon Street: 1866

  • Charing Cross 1864

  • St Pancras: 1866

  • South Bermondsey  1866

  • Liverpool St 1875

  • Blackfriars 1886

  • Marylebone 1899

British Rail

The United Kingdom, the home of rail, ran its state-owned railway under the name  British Rail from 1965 to 1997. The rail operator not only ran the rail infrastructure, stations and trains, they also became involved in train development.  Possibly the most infamous train being the HST 125 and the train that didn’t see production, the APT 125 or better known to the public as the Tilting Train. British Rail also ran the Dover Cross-channel Hover Craft.

The end of British Rail in 1997 would fundamentally change the ownership structure of the railways, with the restart of the great railway company names forms the past and the creation of Network Rail who would own and operate the rails.

Inter city 125 train
Inter city 125 train
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