Saturday, October 23, 2021

The north-south conundrum

#  Surely topography was crucial. North London is hilly. Not enough to hinder urban development, but enough to hinder the kind of dense surface-rail network needed to serve it.

#  The surface rail network was possibly more extensive than you may think, as many of the tube extensions to North London were, with a few exceptions, over the existing lines of the railway companies-LNER, LMS and GWR.

#  It is a pity that the Alexandra Palace branch was not completed as that would likely have covered some of the area where TfL want Crossrail 2. I could have walked there, but had to get a bus to either Highgate or Bounds Green in order to catch a tube. I did sometimes walk to New Southgate & Friern Barnet station (now just New Southgate) for the main line, which is the intended terminus of Crossrail 2.

#  The Piccadilly line extension to Cockfosters, as an exception, was a new route mostly on the surface but had to bore under Old Southgate before re-emerging on the surface, so that bit of topography was not ideal for a surface line.

#  South London has lots of railways but they are an absolute mess to navigate (because of the history of inter-railway competition); the infrastructure is all there but it could really do with service simplification to get that tube-like ease of use


  1. The last comment quoted is bang on the money. South London railways are a mess. When I was a lad I'd visit locomotive sheds all over the capital, the one I feared most was Hither Green. The possibility of getting lost down there have me the heebie-jeebies. Well, I was only twelve or thirteen and travelling alone.

  2. Certainly the Northern Line to High Barnet was ex-LNER. My father transferred in 1938 from the main-line LNER to the newly opened Tube.

    I seem to remember that there were plans to extend the route to Potters Bar, but WW2 intervened.

  3. My train spotting trips to London began at High Barnet. In those days there was a Red Rover Ticket which allowed travel on all red buses and the tube, cost about half a crown or less. I would board an 84 bus from St. Albans to High Barnet, which was where the adventure began. In all I would visit Cricklewood, Finsbury Park, Stratford, Hither Green, Old Oak Common and finally Willesden. Then home via Watford Junction. After a few such journeys I was leading a group of almost a dozen younger enthusiasts. Someone must have thought that I was a responsible person!

    1. A bit of research reveals that the tickets were 6 shillings! That represents a lot help my dad got on his allotment.