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The London, Tilbury and Southend Railway (LT&SR) is an English railway line linking Fenchurch Street stationmarker in the City of Londonmarker with East Londonmarker and the entire length of the northern Thames Gatewaymarker area of Essex. It is known as the Thameside Route by Network Rail. Train services on the line are currently operated by the National Express Group train operating company c2c. The main route from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Basildon is 40 miles (64 km), and the fastest timetabled journey time from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness is 58 minutes. The line currently has a maximum speed limit of 75 mph, although the Class 357 Electrostar trains which run on it are capable of a maximum speed of 100 mph. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 6, SRS 06.02 and 06.04. It is classified as a London and South East Commuter line.

The name also refers to the British railway company which originally built the line in 1854, which was a joint venture between the London and Blackwall Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway.



The LT&SR initially linked London's Fenchurch Streetmarker and Bishopsgatemarker stations with Tilburymarker via Stratfordmarker, Barkingmarker and Graysmarker. By 1856 the line had been extended to Southendmarker. In 1858 a more direct route from Fenchurch Street to Barking via Plaistowmarker and East Hammarker was opened and service from Bishopsgate was withdrawn. The line was extended to Shoeburynessmarker in 1884. Between 1885 and 1888 a new shorter route between Barking and Pitseamarker via Upminstermarker was constructed and between 1892 and 1893 a single line branch was constructed from Romfordmarker to Grays via Upminster.

Operation and development

In 1912 the railway was bought by the Midland Railway (MR) from under the noses of the nearby Great Eastern Railway (GER). The line was known for its use of 4-4-2 tank engines which were later displaced by 2-6-4Ts after it had been absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923.

The LMS constructed by 1932, and then managed, the line and stations of what is now a section of the London Underground from Barking to Upminster with services operated by the District Line from the outset; the LMS already managed all stations from Stepney Green to Barking inclusive. The LMS in turn was nationalised in 1948 into British Railways (BR) and in 1949 the line was transferred to the Eastern Region. In 1958 an accident at Dagenham Eastmarker caused the loss of 10 lives.

The majority of the line was electrified at 6.25 kV in the late 1950s. Some sections were electrified using 25 kV from the outset. The sections electrified at 6.25 kV were converted to 25 kV in the early 1980s. Passenger service was withdrawn from Bromley, Plaistow, Upton Park, East Ham, Becontree, Dagenham and Hornchurch so trains could run fast from Fenchurch Street to Upminster calling only at Stepney East and Barking. The stopping service of the London Underground District Line remained to serve intermediate stations. , several of these stations still have LTSR in the roundels of the canopy supports and a number of decommissioned platforms still remain. At the same time the Romford to Upminster section became physically disconnected from the rest of the line and the separation of the District Line and LTSR services was complete, although tickets continue to be fully interchangeable.

In 1974 a station was opened to serve the new town of Basildonmarker and in 1986 the route was transferred to the Network SouthEast sector of British Rail. During this time the line began to suffer from crumbling infrastructure and limited investment despite its intensive passenger operations. The press picked up on this and it become widely known as the "misery line".

On privatisation, Prism Rail took over operations and marketed the route as LTS Rail. When Prism were bought out by National Express Group the line was rebranded as c2c and the route was given the investment needed to replace rolling stock with new Class 357 Electrostar units and upgrade the infrastructure of the route. In 1995 a station was built at Chafford Hundredmarker to serve the new community there and Lakeside Shopping Centremarker and in 1999 platforms were constructed at West Hammarker to provide interchange with the Jubilee Line Extensionmarker.


During the early 1990s proposals were put forward to convert the whole line into a guided busway, however these plans were quickly dismissed when British Rail announced a complete re-signalling of the line. Over the years the LTS had been used in an almost experimental fashion and contained a whole host of different signalling systems (e.g. geographical, WESTPAC and relay interlockings). In 1995 work got underway to replace everything from signals and point machines to whole junctions.

The main contractor for the work was GEC Alsthom who provided a Mark 3 Solid State Interlocking (SSI) system with SEMA providing the IECC element at Upminster that replaced all signal boxes on the whole line. Main line running signals all became 4 aspect colour lights (replacing searchlight signals amongst others), all point machines were replaced with HW2000 machines and the whole line had a complete fibre optic network installed. All level crossings were renewed with full barriers to be CCTV controlled by a designated workstation at Upminster.

The main line between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness was also bi-directionally signalled (with 3 aspect signalling) along most parts, with the bi-directional section alternating from one track to the other between certain stations, to provide maximum flexibility for continuing operations should disruption occur.

The line was re-born over the Easter weekend 1996 when all the signal boxes from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness were switched out and control was transferred to Upminster IECC. This was later followed over the 1996 August bank holiday when Upminster took control from the remaining boxes on the Tilbury Loop.

Ownership and management

Fenchurch Street Station
ex-LT&SR tank engine 41947 at Toton MPD April 1954.
LMS 3-cylinder 2-6-4T No.
2500 built specifically for the LTSR section at National Railway Museum, York in 2003
Modern c2c Electrostar train on LT&SR route
Year Ownership Management
Pre-grouping and grouping
1854 Eastern Counties Railway, London and Blackwall Railway
1912 Midland Railway
1923 London, Midland and Scottish Railway
1948 British Rail
1949 Eastern Region
1986 Network SouthEast
1996 Railtrack LTS Rail (Prism Rail)
2000 LTS Rail (National Express)
2002 Network Rail c2c (National Express)

Boat trains

Historically, boat trains operated between St Pancras railway stationmarker and Tilbury Riverside railway stationmarker. These services reduced as Tilbury declined as a passenger terminal and Tilbury Riverside station finally closed in 1993. A ferry service to Gravesendmarker continues to operate with train services from Fenchurch Street railway stationmarker and a bus service from Tilbury Town railway stationmarker timed to connect.


Main line

Station Borough Zone
London Fenchurch Streetmarker City of Londonmarker 1
Limehousemarker Tower Hamletsmarker 2
West Hammarker Newhammarker 3
Barkingmarker Barking & Dagenhammarker 4
Upminstermarker Haveringmarker 6
West Horndonmarker Brentwoodmarker
Laindonmarker Basildonmarker
Basildonmarker Basildon
Pitseamarker Basildon
Benfleetmarker Castle Point
Leigh on Seamarker Southend-on-Seamarker
Chalkwellmarker Southend-on-Sea
Westcliffmarker Southend-on-Sea
Southend Centralmarker Southend-on-Sea
Southend Eastmarker Southend-on-Sea
Thorpe Baymarker Southend-on-Sea
Shoeburynessmarker Southend-on-Sea

Barking to Pitsea via Rainham loop

Station Borough Zone
Barkingmarker Barking & Dagenham 4
Dagenham Dockmarker Barking & Dagenham 5
Rainhammarker Havering 6
Purfleetmarker Thurrockmarker
Graysmarker Thurrock
Tilbury Townmarker Thurrock
East Tilburymarker Thurrock
Stanford-le-Hopemarker Thurrock
Pitseamarker Basildon

Upminster to Grays branch

Station Borough Zone
Upminstermarker Havering 6
Ockendonmarker Thurrock
Chafford Hundredmarker Thurrock
Graysmarker Thurrock

Proposed developments

The Greater Anglia RUS, published in December 2007, outlined a number of developments intended for the Thameside Route.In the medium term, 2009-14, this includes minor infrastructure works and additional rolling stock to allow all main line peak-service trains to be extended to 12-car formation.Also included is the proposal for the extension of platforms on the Tilbury loop and Ockendon branch to handle 12 cars, to allow all main line peak-service trains to be extended to 8 or 12-car formation.In the longer term intentions are to continue the lengthening of peak trains to 12-car formation.


Trains can be diverted at Barking to call at Stratfordmarker and Liverpool Streetmarker when necessary due to engineering work or other problems. Trains diverted at Barking, having passed Stratford, can also rejoin the main line before Limehouse (avoiding West Ham) and continue to Fenchurch Street. This diversionary route is less often used and consists of a short section of single track at Bow. Until May 2007, a limited regular evening service operated from Liverpool Street. As of May 2007, all through services now start and terminate at Fenchurch Street with two short shuttle services operating each weekday evening between Liverpool Street and Barking calling only at Stratford.


Of the original LTS, 4-4-2T number 80 survives as a stationary exhibit at Bressingham Steam Museummarker in Norfolk. An ex-LT&S BR Std (80079) is preserved, currently as a stationary exhibit, on the Severn Valley Railwaymarker in Shropshire. Another ex LTS locomotive BR 42500 is the sole remaining member of the 36 3 cylinder 2-6-4 tank engines built by the LMS in the 1930s for the London Tilbury and Southend line. It is preserved in LMS livery at the National Railway Museum in York.


  1. Network Rail - Route 6 North London Line and Thameside Business Plan (2006)
  2. Promoted by those two companies, it was leased for 21 years to Peto Brassey and Betts (The Midland Railway, Hamilton Ellis, 1953, Ian Allen Ltd
  3. c2c - Timetable changes from Sunday 20 May 2007. May 2007.

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