London, Tilbury and Southend Railway

London, Tilbury and Southend Railway
London-Tilbury-Southend Line

Class 357 unit between Barking and Upminster.
Type Commuter rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
East of England
Termini London Fenchurch Street
Stations 26
Opened 1854
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) c2c
Depot(s) East Ham and Shoeburyness
Rolling stock British Rail Class 357
Line length 39.5 miles (63.57 km)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) Standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV AC
Operating speed up to 75 mph (121 km/h)

The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway is an English railway line linking Fenchurch Street railway station in the City of London with northeast London and the entire length of the northern Thames Gateway area of southern Essex. It is currently known as the Essex Thameside Route by Network Rail and forms part of strategic route 6.[1] It is classified as a London and South East commuter line.[2] Train services on the line are currently operated by c2c, a train operating company that is part of the National Express Group.

The main route from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Basildon is 39.5 miles (63.57 km) and the fastest timetabled journey time from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness is 58 minutes[3] giving an average speed of 40.7 mph, although the route can be done in 47 minutes, giving an average speed of 50 mph.[1] A loop line serving Tilbury provides an alternative connection from London to Southend; and a branch line connecting the two via Chafford Hundred forms a third route. The line currently has a maximum speed limit of 75 mph (121 km/h), although the Class 357 Electrostar trains which run on it are capable of a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h).

The line was authorised in 1852 and the first section was opened in 1854 by the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway Company, which was a joint venture between the London and Blackwall Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway. The line was extended in phases and partnerships were formed with the Midland Railway and Metropolitan District Railway to provide through services. The line was purchased by the Midland Railway in 1912 and became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923.



Initial construction

Construction of the line was authorised by Parliament on 17 June 1852.[4] The first section, constructed by Peto and Grissell, was opened between Forest Gate junction on the Eastern Counties Railway and Tilbury, via Barking and Grays on 13 April 1854.[5] Services initially ran from Fenchurch Street and Bishopsgate stations over existing lines to Stratford and Forest Gate junction. The line was extended from Tilbury to Southend in 1856.[5] In 1858 a more direct route to Fenchurch Street was constructed through Bromley, Plaistow and East Ham,[5] connecting with the London and Blackwall Extension Railway at Bow; and the service from Bishopsgate was withdrawn. Under the management of civil engineer Arthur Lewis Stride the line was extended from Southend to Shoeburyness in 1884.[5] A more direct route from Barking to Pitsea via Upminster was constructed between 1885 and 1888, completing the current main route.[5] A single line branch was constructed between Romford and Grays via Upminster during 1892 and 1893.

Route development

'LTSR' canopy support at East Ham (no longer served)

In 1902 the Whitechapel and Bow Railway was constructed as a joint venture with the Metropolitan District Railway, connecting the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway at Bow with the Metropolitan District at Whitechapel. The connection allowed through running of Metropolitan District trains from the tunnels under central London to provide local services to Upminster from 2 June 1902.[6] When the Metropolitan District and Whitechapel and Bow Railway lines were electrified, an additional pair of tracks were constructed between Bow and East Ham and the service was cut back to there on 30 September 1905.[6] The electrified tracks were extended to Barking and opened on 1 April 1908.[6] Delayed by World War I,[5] the electric tracks were extended to Upminster and District line services started on 12 September 1932.[6] The London Plan Working Party Report of 1949 envisaged as its Route G the LTSR electrified and diverted away from Fenchurch Street to the Bank and on through the Waterloo & City Line tunnels to Waterloo and its suburban lines.[7] Of course, the Waterloo & City tunnels would have had to be bored out to main line size for this "Crossrail" to happen. However, electrification went ahead from 1961 to 1962 [5] and direct passenger services from Bromley, Plaistow, Upton Park, East Ham, Becontree, Dagenham and Hornchurch to Fenchurch Street were withdrawn. In 1974 a station opened to serve the new town of Basildon and in 1995 a station was built at Chafford Hundred to serve the new community there and Lakeside Shopping Centre. Platforms were reestablished and opened at West Ham station in 1999 to provide interchange with the extended Jubilee line.

Ownership and management

LMS 3-cylinder 2-6-4T No. 2500 built specifically for the LTSR section at National Railway Museum, York in 2003

The railway was initially jointly promoted by the Eastern Counties Railway and London and Blackwall Railway and was leased for 21 years to Peto, Brassey and Betts.[8] The Midland Railway and London, Tilbury and Southend Railway jointly constructed the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, which enabled through running of trains between St Pancras railway station and Tilbury Docks.[5] In 1912 the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway was purchased by the Midland Railway.[5] At grouping in 1923, the line became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.[5] The London, Midland and Scottish Railway was nationalised into British Railways in 1948 and in 1949 became part of the Eastern Region. In 1986 the route was transferred to the Network SouthEast sector of British Rail. On privatisation in 1996, ownership passed to Railtrack and Prism Rail took over operations; marketing the route as LTS Rail.[5] Ownership passed to Network Rail in 2002. Prism Rail were bought out by National Express Group in 2000 and in 2002 the line was rebranded as c2c.

Rolling stock

The line was known for its use of 4-4-2 tank engines which were later displaced by 2-6-4Ts after it had been absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923. In 1958 an accident at Dagenham East caused the loss of 10 lives.


Modern c2c Electrostar train on LT&SR route

During the early 1990s proposals were put forward to convert the whole line into a guided busway, however these plans were quickly dismissed when British Rail announced a complete re-signalling of the line. Over the years the LTS had been used in an almost experimental fashion and contained a whole host of different signalling systems (e.g. geographical, WESTPAC and relay interlockings). In 1995 work got underway to replace everything from signals and point machines to whole junctions.

The main contractor for the work was GEC Alsthom who provided a Mark 3 Solid State Interlocking (SSI) system with SEMA providing the IECC element at Upminster that replaced all signal boxes on the whole line. Main line running signals mostly became 4 aspect colour lights (replacing searchlight signals amongst others), all point machines were replaced with HW2000 machines and the whole line had a complete fibre optic network installed. All level crossings were renewed with full barriers to be CCTV controlled by a designated workstation at Upminster.

The main line between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness was also bi-directionally signalled (with 3 aspect signalling) along most parts, with the bi-directional section alternating from one track to the other between certain stations, to provide maximum flexibility for continuing operations should disruption occur.

The line was re-signalled over the Easter weekend 1996 when all the signal boxes from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness (via Basildon)were switched out and control was transferred to Upminster IECC. This was later followed over the 1996 August bank holiday when Upminster took control from the remaining boxes on the Tilbury Loop.


Station Local authority Fare zone Usagea Startb TPHc Connections
Main route
London Fenchurch Street City of London 1 15.976 1854 8 Tower Hill tube station and Tower Gateway DLR station
Limehouse Tower Hamlets 2 2.480 1854 6 DLR
West Ham Newham 3 1.176 1901d 8 District line, Hammersmith and City line, Jubilee line, DLR
Barking Barking and Dagenham 4 3.559 1854 8 Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop, District line, Hammersmith and City line, Gospel Oak to Barking Line
Upminster Havering 6 2.617 1885 6 Upminster to Grays branch, District line, Romford to Upminster Line
West Horndon Brentwood outside zones 0.349 1888 2
Laindon Basildon outside zones 1.764 1888 4
Basildon Basildon outside zones 2.538 1974 4
Pitsea Basildon outside zones 1.046 1855 4 Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop
Benfleet Castle Point outside zones 2.989 1855 6
Leigh on Sea Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.791 1856 6
Chalkwell Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.313 1856 6
Westcliff Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.026 1895 6
Southend Central Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.904 1856 6
Southend East Southend-on-Sea outside zones 1.459 1932 4
Thorpe Bay Southend-on-Sea outside zones 0.752 1884 4
Shoeburyness Southend-on-Sea outside zones 0.599 1884 4
Upminster to Grays branch
Ockendon Thurrock G 0.618 1892 2
Chafford Hundred Thurrock G 2.066 1993 2
Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop
Dagenham Dock Barking and Dagenham 5 0.641 1854 2
Rainham Havering 6 1.825 1854 2
Purfleet Thurrock G 0.433 1854 2
Grays Thurrock G 2.884 1854 4 Upminster to Grays branch
Tilbury Town Thurrock outside zones 0.537 1854 2
East Tilbury Thurrock outside zones 0.337 1936 2
Stanford-le-Hope Thurrock outside zones 0.939 1854 2
  • ^a Millions of entries and exits during the 2007/08 financial year[9]
  • ^b Year station first served by London, Tilbury and Southend Railway service (could be served earlier by another company)
  • ^c Off-peak Monday-Saturday trains per hour frequency in the December 2009 timetable[3]
  • ^d Service suspended in 1913 and reintroduced in 1999

Diversion to Liverpool Street

The main terminus is Fenchurch Street

When necessary, due to engineering work or other problems, trains can be diverted at Barking over the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and then the Great Eastern Main Line to call at Stratford and Liverpool Street. Trains diverted at Barking, having passed Stratford, can also rejoin the London, Tilbury and Southend line before Limehouse (avoiding West Ham) and continue to Fenchurch Street. This diversionary route is less often used and consists of a short section of single track at Bow. From May 1985[4] to May 2007, the weekday evening service after 22:30 operated from Liverpool Street. As of May 2010, most through services now start and terminate at Fenchurch Street, with a limited number of early morning and late night services operating to and from Liverpool Street.[3]

Line guide

London, Tilbury & Southend Line
Head station
Stop on track
Thorpe Bay
Stop on track
Southend East
Station on track
Southend Central
Stop on track
Stop on track
Station on track
Stop on track
Junction to left Track turning from right
Right side of cross-platform interchange Left side of cross-platform interchange
Station on track Straight track
Station on track Straight track
Straight track Stop on track
Straight track Stop on track
East Tilbury
Straight track Track turning left Unknown BSicon "xABZq+rxl" Unknown BSicon "exKBHFr"
Tilbury Riverside
Straight track Stop on track
Tilbury Town
Stop on track Straight track
West Horndon
Straight track Station on track
Straight track Track turning from left Junction to right
Straight track Station on track Straight track
Chafford Hundred
Straight track Stop on track Straight track
Junction from left Track turning right Straight track
Interchange on track Straight track
Upminster Underground no-text.svg
Straight track Stop on track
Straight track Stop on track
Straight track Stop on track
Dagenham Dock
Junction from left Transverse track Track turning right
Interchange on track
Barking Underground no-text.svg
Interchange on track
West Ham Underground no-text.svg
Interchange on track
Limehouse DLR no-text roundel.svg
End station
London Fenchurch Street

Proposed developments

2007 proposals

The Greater Anglia RUS, published in December 2007, outlined a number of developments intended for the Thameside Route. In the medium term, 2009–14, this includes minor infrastructure works and additional rolling stock to allow all main line peak-service trains to be extended to 12-car formation. Also included is the proposal for the extension of platforms on the Tilbury loop and Ockendon branch to handle 12 cars, to allow all main line peak-service trains to be extended to 8 or 12-car formation. In the longer term intentions are to continue the lengthening of peak trains to 12-car formation.[10] A new railway station is proposed at Beam Reach, between Rainham and Purfleet.[11]

London Gateway (port) link

A link to the London Gateway deep water port under construction present will be linked to the line. Work of the port started in February 2010 and it is expected to handle 3.5 million TEU and be completed over the next ten to 15 years.[12]


Of the original LTS, 4-4-2T number 80 survives as a stationary exhibit at Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk. An ex-LT&S BR Std (80079) is preserved, currently as a stationary exhibit, on the Severn Valley Railway in Shropshire. Another ex LTS locomotive BR 42500 is the sole remaining member of the 36 3 cylinder 2-6-4 tank engines built by the LMS in the 1930s for the London Tilbury and Southend line. It is preserved in LMS livery at the National Railway Museum in York.


  1. ^ "Route 6 North London Line and Thameside". Network Rail Route Plans 2006. Network Rail. 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Route 6 North London Line and Thameside". Route Plans 2009. Network Rail. 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Train Times". c2c. 13 December 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  4. ^ a b White, H. P. (1987). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. 3: Greater London (3rd ed.). David St John Thomas. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "London, Tilbury and Southend Railway", Local Studies Information Sheets (Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council), 2008,, retrieved 12 January 2010 
  6. ^ a b c d Douglas Rose (1999). The London Underground: A diagrammatic history (7 ed.). Douglas Rose. 
  7. ^ J. Glover, "London's Underground", 7th edition, Shepperton, Ian Allan, 1991, p.61.
  8. ^ Hamilton Ellis (1953). The Midland Railway. Ian Allen Ltd. 
  9. ^ "Station usage". Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Greater Anglia Route Utilisation Strategy". Network Rail. December 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "Boris's blueprint gets a qualified 'yes'". Romford Recorder. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  12. ^ "London Gateway port, Essex". Local Transport Today. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  • Welch, H.D. (1951 (Revised April 1963)). The Oakwood Library of Railway History. No. 8:The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. The Oakwood Press. pp. 38. 

External links

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