Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction railway station is located at St John's Hill in the south-west of Battersea in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is not in Clapham but the area, influenced by the station, is commonly known as Clapham Junction.

Clapham Junction railway station is located at St John's Hill in the south-west of Battersea in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is not in Clapham but the area, influenced by the station, is commonly known as Clapham Junction. Many routes from London's two busiest termini, Waterloo and Victoria funnel through Clapham Junction.

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By number of trains passing through each day, some 2,000 (most of which stop), it is the busiest railway station in Britain, and in Europe as signage of 17 June 2005 proclaimed. It is less busy by the number of passengers, most of whom pass straight through. Interchanges make some forty per cent of the activity and by that count too it is the busiest station in the UK. British Transport Police maintain a neighbourhood policing presence at Clapham Junction.


All services from Waterloo, by South West Trains, and many from Victoria, by Southern and Gatwick Express pass through the station. In addition, a few services by London Overground and Southern take the West London Line.

During peak times, there are 117 trains per hour.

The typical off-peak service of about 110 trains (one train every 30 seconds) is as follows:

27 London Waterloo 22 London Victoria 1 Alton 1 stopping to Basingstoke 2 Brighton 2 Caterham 2 Chessington South 1 Dorking (via Sutton) 2 Dorking (via Wimbledon) 1 East Croydon (via Norbury) 2 East Grinstead 1 Epsom Downs 2 Epsom (via Hackbridge) 1 Epsom (via Norbury) 2 Guildford (via Cobham) 2 Guildford (via Epsom) 2 Hampton Court 1 Haslemere 1 Horsham 1 Littlehampton and Eastbourne (divides at Haywards Heath) 2 London Bridge 2 London Waterloo (via Brentford, Hounslow and Richmond) 2 London Waterloo (via Richmond, Hounslow and Brentford) 2 London Waterloo (via Wimbledon, Kingston and Richmond) 2 London Waterloo (via Richmond, Kingston and Wimbledon) 1 Milton Keynes Central (via Kensington) 1 Ore and Littlehampton (divides at Haywards Heath and Eastbourne) 1 Poole 1 Portsmouth Harbour (via Haslemere) 1 Portsmouth Harbour and Bognor Regis (divides at Horsham) 2 Reading 2 Shepperton 1 Southampton Central and Bognor Regis (divides at Horsham) 2 Sutton (via Norbury) 2 West Croydon (via Crystal Palace) 2 Weybridge (via Brentford, Hounslow and Staines) 1 Weymouth 2 Windsor & Eton Riverside 2 stopping to Woking 1 Yeovil Junction (some continue to Exeter and beyond)

An average of about six and three-quarter trains per platform each off-peak hour takes no heed either of the different service frequencies of platforms (two platforms are little used) or of trains not stopping, but were each train to dwell at a platform for three minutes, each platform would be occupied for approaching half the time, showing that the station is nearly at capacity.

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The station has 17 platforms, numbered 1 to 17 (although 1 is disused), divided in two groups. Platforms 1-6, the northern group, lie a west-southwesterly direction and platforms 7-17, the southern group are oriented in a southwesterly direction. Sidings leading into railway sheds at the west of the station separate the two groups.

The main service usage at the platforms is:

1: The northernmost platform, out of use. It has no rails. Portable buildings have been set at both ends of its track. The proposed East London Line extension to Clapham Junction might use this platform. 2: West London Line for Willesden Junction. 3 and 4: Up Windsor line. 5 and 6: Down Windsor line. 7 and 8: Express trains to Waterloo from the South West mainline. Used infrequently. 9: South West Trains mainline destinations. 10: South West Trains up suburban services coming through Wimbledon; the busiest up platform with 16 trains per hour. 11: South West Trains down suburban services going through Wimbledon. 12: Fast trains on the Brighton mainline to Victoria. 13: Brighton mainline southbound to all destinations. All trains call at East Croydon. 14: Up suburban services on the Brighton Mainline. 15: Down Southern suburban services 16: Southern services taking the West London line to Watford Junction. 17: Services to East Croydon via Balham and Selhurst (all of these trains are from West London Line). Platforms 11-17 have very large gaps between the platforms and the trains, especially platform 17. Please mind the gap when boarding/alighting!

The main entrance, at the south from St. John's Hill, leads into a subway some 15 ft (4.6 m) wide which runs beneath the eastern ends of all platforms and on to a northern exit, which has restricted opening hours. The subway becomes very crowded during rush hours: ticket barriers at the ends are particular pinch points.

A very wide covered footbridge connects all platforms at the western end but it does not provide entry to or egress from the station. In 2007 Network Rail announced a package of improvements to access at Clapham Junction, including re-opening the Brighton Yard entrance on St Johns Hill and installing lifts to the platforms; the scheme is due for completion in 2009. The station has limited public toilet facilities, drinks and confectionery kiosks in the underpass, on the overpass, and on some platforms; and a small shopping centre in the St. John's Hill entrance.

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Until 2003, when an extensive electronic train information display system was installed throughout the site, the large number of destinations sharing platforms made the station confusing for those unfamiliar with it.In May 2004 the ticket machines were moved and reduced in number from six to four, only two taking credit cards, and all prone to frequent breakdown. After many complaints the two removed machines were reinstalled in winter 2004. Although there are seven staffed ticket windows purchasing tickets in the morning rush hour, and even during the day, can involve a lengthy delay. In March 2005 work began to alter the layout of the travel centre, and eight new ticket machines were installed in April 2006. Only two of these machines take cash and the excessive queueing times for these has provoked complaints.

The junction

The station is named Clapham Junction because it forms the junction of a number of major rail lines. The name is not shared by any actual rail junction in near the station. Nearby rail junctions are:

Falcon Jn (at the south end of the station, where the West London Line (WLL) joins the Brighton Slow Lines) Ludgate GW Jn (at the eastern end of the Windsor Line platforms with the WLL and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway) Latchmere Jns (where the three curves join the WLL) West London Jn (where Eurostar empty stock left the Windsor Lines to get to the WLL) Pouparts Jn (where the low level and high level approaches to Victoria split)


Prior to the railway age,the area was rural and specialised in growing lavender used in the production of perfume; the hill to the east of the station is called Lavender Hill. The coach road from London to Guildford ran slightly to the south of the location of the station, passing a public house called The Falcon at a crossroads in the valley between St. John's Hill and Lavender Hill.

The 19th century saw the rapid development of the railway system. The first railway through the area was the London and Southampton Railway, opened in 1838. That railway terminated at Nine Elms, near Vauxhall, about 2km (1 mile) north east of the Clapham Junction site but made no provision for a station at the site of the (by now renamed) Falcon pub.

A second railway line, from Nine Elms to Richmond, opened in 1846. The lines terminating at Nine Elms were extended to Waterloo in 1848. The line to Victoria opened by 1860. Railways running through the area now served the centre of London, at Victoria and Waterloo; the affluent west of London - places such as West Brompton and Earls Court; Watford Junction and connections north; Croydon, Crystal Palace and other parts of South London; Guildford, Richmond and places west; Southampton and places south-west; and Brighton. The London and South Western Railway built an interchange station near the Falcon crossroads and near where its Windsor and South-western main line separated from the Brighton line.

The station was opened in 1863 as a joint venture of the London & South Western Railway, whose trains served the northern platforms, and the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, whose trains served the southern platforms. Additional station buildings were erected in 1874 and 1876.

At the time of the construction of the station, Battersea was mostly associated with industry and poor working people. Clapham, a mile to the east of the site, was a longer-established and more fashionable village and the railway companies, seeking to attract a middle and upper class clientele, adopted the grander of the two names.

The station brought development of the area around it, with the population rising from 6,000 in 1840 to 168,000 by 1910. In 1885 Arding and Hobbs Department Store was built, and after a 1909 fire was rebuilt to include the landmark cupola. Refurbishment rebranded the store with the parent company Allders name, but some of the original Arding and Hobbs signs were retained. Allders went into liquidation at the start of 2005 and Arding and Hobbs is now part of the Debenhams chain. The cupola is illuminated at night.

In 2005 Wandsworth Council deputy Labour group leader, Councillor Tony Belton, suggested that the station be renamed 'Battersea Junction', as the station is actually in Battersea, and quite a distance from Clapham.

Clapham rail disaster

A point slightly south-west of the station Clapham Junction was the scene of a railway accident involving two collisions between three commuter trains on the morning of 12 December 1988. Thirty-five people died and more than 100 were injured. The accident was caused by a disconnected wire which should have been insulated contacting signal relay wiring and so making a signal display an incorrect aspect. A driver noticed this error and stopped his train to report it, the following train ran through the faulty signal and collided with the rear of the stationary train. A third empty train then collided with the wreckage.

London Underground Future

In the 2007 safeguarding of the Chelsea-Hackney line, Clapham Junction is a possibility as the line is safeguarded to travel from Chelsea to Clapham Junction on a branch. The reason for this is for the bid to end the station's isolation from the London Underground network.

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