Sadiq Khan says West London Orbital rail link will likely go ahead

Image above: Library image Overground train; TfL

Rail line planned to come into service in the 2030s

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed plans for a West London Orbital rail link between Hounslow and Hendon are still being actively considered despite the financial chaos caused by Covid and the recent rise in inflation.

The rail link would stop at Isleworth, Brentford, Acton, Harlesden, Neasden, Brent Cross and a station at Old Oak Common linking with the planned HS2 line to Birmingham, as well as a branch after Neasden off to West Hampstead via Cricklewood.

Mr Khan has now confirmed that engineering consultants are being chosen to work on a detailed design for the link, which could open within a decade. While train frequency has not been confirmed, the proposed service would include four trains an hour from Kew Bridge to Hendon, and a further four every hour from Hounslow to West Hampstead. This would provide a total of eight per hour on the main section between South Acton and Neasden.

Asked for an update on the project by Labour London Assembly Member Elly Baker last month, Mr Khan said:

“Following agreement of the feasibility funding last year, several studies, funded primarily by the west London boroughs, are underway or planned.

“Timetable assessment undertaken by Network Rail is nearing completion and has identified that a viable West London Orbital service is expected to be achievable.”

Images above: Map of the proposed train service, stations which the service will stop at

Scheme could cost well over £273million 

The 11-mile rail project from West to North West London would provide the Overground network with interchanges with Thameslink rail services in North London, as well as the Underground’s Jubilee line and existing Overground services on the Richmond/Clapham Junction to Stratford line.

Old Oak Common would provide a future interchange with the Elizabeth Line, where a station is being built between Acton Main Line and Paddington, as well as the proposed HS2 and the nearby Central line at North Acton.

The line would cut journey times from Hounslow to Hendon to 37 minutes – instead of the estimated 90 minutes it currently takes, which involves going into Central London and back out again.

The scheme involves using a little-known freight route called the Dudding Hill Line which has not been used for a scheduled passenger service since 1902. It has been in the planning phase since 2017 and would form part of the existing Overground network which was established in 2007.

A station would be built at Lionel Road next to Brentford Football Club’s Gtech community Stadium, near the site of disused Kew station, which shut in 1862. There would be a spur from South Acton connecting with Kew Bridge, where services could start or finish.

The most recent capital cost for the railway was calculated as £273million in 2017/18 prices, but an updated figure has not yet been provided. Transport for London states on its website:

‘If funding can be identified – and we get all approvals needed for the scheme – then services could start in the early 2030s. All proposals will be subject to future public consultation before any major decisions are made.’