Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Tattenham Corner review 1

16/10/07  Purley to Tattenham Corner

Cost of ticket £18.00 (London area travel card)

Dept Purley: 10.11    Arrive Tattenham Corner: 10.34

Journey time: 23 minutes

Distance: 8 miles  Weather:  raining

Train type: Class 455 4-car EMU(double track all the way)

Railway company: Southern

Frequency of trains - one every

Purley is a large station with six platforms as well as being the junction for branches to both Caterham and Tattenham Corner. The original red brick station buildings are still here, though today there is a lot of renewal work going on and some buildings are covered up. All the station signs are painted in the Southern green livery. On the east side are sidings for aggregates and there is a Hanson hopper train in the station, pulled by Class 66, "Village of Mells", waiting to go as soon as we leave. We leave from platform 6 and cross over the tracks of the Caterham rails before turning right and going under the Brighton line. We don't go far before we come to a stop at Reedham station, which is a two platform station., painted in mainly white. A Brighton to London train speeds past us just a few yards away, as we are now parallel to that line. It is still very built up with plenty of semi-detached suburban housing round here. We only go a short distance before we stop at Smitham station, which has two long curved platforms. Platform 2 on the left has the original station building, painted in a cream colour, whilst platform 1 just has a basic shelter. Some trains terminate here during the day, though I'm not sure why as there are no sidings for them to park up in. The track then snakes to the right and then the left, giving us views of some shops below us on the left. We then move into a cutting and speed up for a little while, before stopping at Woodmansterne. It is an island station with two platforms in use, with the red brick station building in the centre, which houses the ticket office. I notice that the windows are all boarded up though. Once again we are high above the houses on the left, but start to see the first signs of the countryside outside London. All the stations on this line seem no more than a mile apart and we soon arrive at Chipstead station. The main platform building is of an unusual design, quite grim looking, but obviously in private hands now. There is a tiny ticket office to the right of it. We now enter another cutting, the sides of which have been cleared of vegetation - presumably to stop the leaves blocking the line. We turn into another long curve to the right and see open countryside once more, with horses grazing on the hills to the left, whilst on the right can be seen plenty of woodland.  We go about two miles this time, at a slowish 30-40 mph as we pass over the Chipstead Viaduct. Then we arrive at Kingswood station. There is a large station house on the northern platform, though this does have a waiting room in it. There is also the obligatory builder's yard next to the station. We go into a cutting and then pass through two tunnels in quick succession, before coming out in another cutting and turn right into Tadworth station. It is more modern looking station with a large shelter on one of the platforms. The main station building is actually on the road bridge over one end of the platforms. As we leave we seem to be going downhill and in a straight line as we rise above houses on either side of us. Then the houses give way to fields again as we see some sidings on the right, indicating that we are nearing Tattenham Corner station. It has three long platforms, presumably to deal with race trains that bring passengers to the nearby Epsom racecourse. My train is a couple of minutes late and in fact there is only one other passenger getting off the train here. The station is clean with no sign of graffiti. The return train also leave about three minutes late.

Summary: Obviously a busy line when there are race meetings on, but judging by the lack of passengers during off-peak times, this line could be cut back during the daytime.  MC