Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Eastern - Chingford review 1


6/11/07 Clapton to Chingford

Cost of ticket £18 (London area travel card)

Dept Clapton: 10.10  Arrive Chingford: 10.27

Journey time: 17 mins

Distance: 6 miles  Weather: Sunny but cold

Train type: Class 315 8-car EMU (double track all the way)

Railway company: One

Frequency of trains - one every 15 minutes


I take the 10 o'clock train from Liverpool Street on a suburban service that departs every fifteen minutes. The train is very empty and I wonder why it is not just four cars rather than eight. We stop at Bethnal Green, Cambridge Heath and Hackney Downs stations all in the first ten minutes. About twenty passengers get on at Hackney Downs, which is high above the houses below. We then leave the Cambridge line on our left as well travel through two tunnels, before arriving at Clapton station. It is a large Victorian station with two platforms and all the signs and lampposts are painted in the pale blue livery of the "One" TOC. The station signs have been painted over in grey fro some reason, so only the name of "Clapton" and "One" are still showing. I wonder if anyone ever comes along and writes "Eric" in front of Clapton?!!! We leave, passing large factories on the right and plenty of housing on the left, before emerging into a countryside scene. This is Hackney marsh where no housing has ever been built because of the wetness of the land. A line leaves us on the left to go to Tottenham Hale, joining with the one we pass over from Stratford. We go past a water treatment works and canal, before the houses start again. There are masses of terraced houses on both sides as we slow for St James Street station. It's a more modern station than Clapton with large open-plan waiting spaces and no sign of any graffiti. The train then moves into the centre of Walthamstow and we go over the Goblin Line (from Barking to Gospel Oak), before we arrive at Walthamstow Central. Many passengers get off here and disappear into the Underground station of the Victoria line. The station is painted grey with brown backed signs. We then go into a leafy cutting and a short tunnel before stopping for Wood Street station, which is on an embankment high above the surrounding shops and flats. We speed up more as we leave Walthamstow behind. The housing soon changes from terraced to semi-detached as we go over the North Circular A604. We pass over a level crossing as we come into Highams Park station, which has two very long platforms, housing traditional station buildings of light brown brick. After the station we pass allotments on the left, with more houses on either side, before slowing for Chingford station. There are several carriage sidings on the left, which have a few units in them. The station has three platforms, though only two tracks within them! It has a large original station building, which houses an antique shop within it.

Summary: A very busy suburban branch line with frequent trains throughout the day. It will never be in danger of closing down.  MC