Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Chessington review 1


20/11/08  Motspur Park to Chessington South

Cost of ticket £18.00 (London area travel card)

Dept Motspur Park: 15.08  Arrive Chessington South: 15.19

Journey time: 11 minutes

Distance: 4 miles  Weather: light rain

Train type: Class 455 8-car EMU (double track all the way)

Railway company: South West trains

Frequency of trains - one every half hour


Motspur Park is on the main Wimbledon to Epsom line and is an island station with two platforms. I arrive there after coming from Guildford via Effingham Junction and have to wait around half an hour. There are no facilities on the station, so I wonder round the shops trying to find a toilet, but no luck. Surprisingly for this time of day the train has eight carriages, but is pretty empty. We go over a level crossing just after the station and pass the old BBC Sports ground on our right, which is looking pretty dilapidated and overgrown. They do use it as a park and ride in the summer for the Wimbledon Tennis though. We then leave the Epsom line and veer right in a long curve in a cutting. There are houses on both sides, being mainly flats and then we slow for Malden Manor station. It is built in the post-modern style with a large canopy over the platforms and looking like a tube station. We then pass playing fields on our left and more houses on the right. In the distance you can see the large office block, which is a local landmark for Tolworth, whose station we arrive at next. It is identical in style to Malden Manor with large white walls and buttresses. We leave and run next to the busy A3 trunk road on the right. The scenery then changes into industrial units on both sides as we reach about 50 mph, before slowing again for Chessington North. The station is built on an embankment and is again in the post-modern style of architecture. There is no graffiti to be seen, but the station signs tell us to alight here for Chessington World of Adventures. Soon after we go into another cutting and only for about half a mile before we come to our final stop at Chessington South. It is deep in a cutting and has just the one platform as opposed to two on the other stations. There is a canopy over the platform but outside there's no shops, just houses and a school, where several pupils get on the train to get off at the various stations along the branch. The double track continues a short while under the road before coming to an end with small trees growing up through the track. Apparently there were plans to extend the track through to Leatherhead, but the outbreak of the 2nd World War ended them and no one has ever taken on the challenge since.

Summary: A busy branch line in the outer suburbs of South West London, which will no doubt continue for a long time yet.  MC