Whatever happened to the Inner South London line between Cambria Junction & Brixton

Not open for further replies.
17 Feb 2016
Going to Denmark Hill recently, I noticed how there were so many trains on the Outer South London line, but only Thameslink trains, using the Cambria spur, were using the Inner line. Even the Lewisham trains were going on the outer lines, which is a strange choice, considering they then have to switch onto the outer tracks at Crofton Rd., pass through Clapham High Street without stopping & then return to the inner tracks at Voltaire Rd.

Denmark Hill:
Please note: Looking at the Monday-Friday service frequency under 'at the same minutes past each hour until' or similar. Source: Timetables

Outer tracks: 4tph London Overground, 2tph Southeastern via Lewisham. Total: 6tph (10mins headway)

Inner tracks: 2tph Thameslink via Catford & Cambria spur, 1tph Southeastern via Catford.
Total: 3tph (20mins headway)


The Inner tracks are used by freight trains: I used to think this, but that wouldn't explain why I saw a freight train on the outer tracks.

The Inner tracks are for express trains: I was there for half an hour on a Thursday afternoon (around 5:30) & saw only 2 trains use the Inner tracks, both of which were Thameslink & stopped there. It would be much more sensible for the express trains to go on the main line via the Penge tunnel. which has a passing loop & faster speed limits.

I can't think of a reason why the Lewisham trains switch over to the Outer tracks, which involves passing Clapham High Street, then back over to the Inner tracks
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in

RailUK Forums


14 Aug 2013
Lack of any spare capacity on the Inners between Brixton Junction and Clapham High Street would be the likely reason. Around 8 trains / hour each way between Victoria and Herne Hill to add to anything on the Inners at Denmark Hill. Plus some ECS moves to Blackfriars around the peak.


Veteran Member
3 May 2015
Correct. Generally the Victoria-Lewisham-Dartford trains run on the Chatham Slow/Reversible lines between Brixton and Victoria. This keeps them operationally segregated from everything from Victoria via Kent House.


23 Dec 2015
Having got on a Dartford train from platform 3 (inner line) at Denmark Hill did a bit of looking into this.

Looks like the Victoria trains do use the inner line but only on Sundays which would add more weight to the capacity argument above since it's less of an issue on Sunday.
7 Dec 2012
At one time the 2Uxx services were booked to go via Stewarts Lane Junction (certainly on the up) and it is easier access to this location via the Up Atlantic line rather than the Up Chatham Main.



Established Member
30 Sep 2012
The connections between the LBSC and SEC lines (and the Chatham Reversible instead of Up Slow) date from Victoria resignalling around 1980. That gave the opportunity to use the Atlantic lines for SED services, which was promptly taken. This relieved congestion over the low-speed junction at Brixton, and gave cross London freights an independent route. The SLL proper only had its 2 trains an hour until the Overground take over (and it's still only 4 now).
Add in Eurostar, and for a few years the Chatham lines were pretty busy, even if less so now.

I suspect there's an element of timetabling inertia in leaving the Dartfords where they are, but there's no disadvantage speed wise as Crofton Road and Voltaire Road are relatively high speed junctions in their context.

By the way, the Kent House loops don't get all that much use except when stuff is diverted (or, in bygone days, when a Q boat train path was used)
Last edited:
Not open for further replies.