Sutton and Mole Valley Lines

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Sutton & Mole Valley Lines
Type Commuter rail, Suburban rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
South East England
Owner Network Rail
Rolling stock
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 750 V DC third rail
Sutton and Mole
Valley Lines
South London Line
Peckham Rye London Overground
South London Line
East Dulwich
North Dulwich
Chatham Main Line
Tulse Hill
Crystal Palace Line
Brighton Main Line
Sutton Loop Line
Mitcham Eastfields
Mitcham Junction Tramlink
Brighton Main Line
West Croydon London Overground Tramlink
Bandon Halt (1906-1914)
Carshalton Beeches
Sutton Loop Line
Epsom Downs Branch
Ewell East
Epsom Town (closed 1929)
South Western Main Line
Raynes Park
South Western Main Line
Motspur Park
Chessington Branch Line
Worcester Park
Ewell West
Bookham Tunnel
New Guildford Line
Effingham Junction
New Guildford Line
Mickleham Tunnel
Box Hill & Westhumble
North Downs Line
Dorking Deepdene
North Downs Line
Betchworth Tunnel
Arun Valley Line
Arun Valley Line

The Sutton & Mole Valley Lines were constructed between 1847 and 1868 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, the London and South Western Railway and the LBSCR-sponsored Horsham, Dorking and Leatherhead Railway.


Services include commuter services in south London, Surrey and West Sussex operated by Southern, usually from London Victoria to Horsham via Sutton and Dorking. Some Southern services in peak hours from London Bridge call at West Croydon and diverge at Leatherhead and serve Effingham Junction and Guildford via the New Guildford Line. The South West Trains services are operated by Class 455/8. The Southern services use that same type of train, but sometimes Class 377 instead. Southern previously used Class 456 trains but these were transferred to South West Trains in March 2014. SWT plan to re-release these on the line in around November 2014.

South West Trains operates services between London Waterloo and Leatherhead via Raynes Park and Epsom. Half continue along the main line to Dorking, others run to Guildford via Bookham and Effingham Junction.

Thameslink operates services from Tulse Hill to Sutton as part of the Thameslink route to London Blackfriars and Luton using Class 319 trains.

Technical information

The line from Raynes Park to Horsham via Epsom and Dorking (including the Bookham Branch) is known to commuters as the Mole Valley Line - seven out of the 15 stations are in the Surrey district of Mole Valley. The full title Sutton and Mole Valley Lines is used for the lines north of Epsom via Sutton. Confusingly, all Southern services that terminate or call at Sutton are branded as Sutton and Mole Valley Line services.

The lines include (in order of construction):

  • West Croydon to Epsom via Sutton
  • Epsom to Leatherhead
  • Raynes Park to Epsom
  • Leatherhead to Horsham via Dorking
  • Leatherhead to Effingham Junction (Bookham Branch)
  • Peckham Rye to Sutton via Mitcham Junction

None of the lines leads directly to a London terminus, but services use the South Western Main Line to access London Waterloo, the Brighton Main Line to access London Victoria and the Brighton Main Line (via Norwood Junction) or the South London Line (via South Bermondsey) to access London Bridge.

The following branch lines are associated with the lines, but are considered separate:

The lines are electrified at 750 V DC third rail. Class 455 electrical multiple units are used, with semi-fast and stopping services to Horsham from London Victoria frequently operated by Class 377 Electrostars. Up to the early 1980s, express services to Littlehampton and Bognor Regis were routed along these lines and called at Sutton, Dorking, Horsham and stations to the south coast along the Arun Valley Line & West Coastway Line.

The maximum speed is 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), with 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) restrictions at Clapham Junction, Streatham Junction, Mitcham Junction, Raynes Park, West Croydon, Sutton and Epsom; 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) at Dorking and the approach to London Victoria; and 75 miles per hour (121 km/h) between Box Hill and Westhumble and Dorking, and between Dorking and Holmwood. Signalling between London Victoria and Ewell East (including the Epsom Downs Branch) is controlled by London Victoria (VC); between London Waterloo and Box Hill and Westhumble by Wimbledon (W); between Box Hill and Westhumble and Warnham by Dorking (CBK); and between West Croydon & Waddon and Warnham & Horsham by Three Bridges Signalling Centre (T).

Platform lengths are eight cars except for Sutton, Leatherhead, Ashtead, Dorking and Horsham, which are 12 cars.

History of the route

A 1908 Railway Clearing House map, showing part of the Sutton & Mole Valley Lines though South London

The lines used were the result of several schemes:

11 March 1867: Leatherhead to Dorking
1 May 1867: Dorking to Horsham
  • 1865 Epsom Downs Line opened.
  • 1868 The mainline route from London to Sutton via Hackbridge opened.
  • 1901 London Victoria to Sutton via Norbury electrified at 6,600 V AC
  • 1938 London - Horsham electrified at 660 V DC and new signalling installed.
  • 1978 Portsmouth Harbour/Bognor Regis express services diverted via Gatwick Airport, and the lines downgraded including the removal of the passing loops at Cheam. A peak hour service continues, stopping at Sutton and Dorking.
  • 1984 Dorking and Sutton lose their peak hour 12-coach fast trains to London and the south coast.
  • 1997 Thameslink 2000 is announced with promises of a King's Lynn to Guildford service via London Bridge and West Croydon and an upgraded Wimbledon loop service to St Albans, with 12-coach trains.
  • 2013 Platforms at intermediate stations along the route are extended to accommodate 10-coach suburban trains. Stations along the Epsom Downs branch have their platforms extended to accommodate 10-coach trains. Southern Trains introduces five car Class 377/6 on the route.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 4 November 1942, two electric multiple units were in collision at Waddon due to a signalman's error. Two people were killed.[1]
  • On 6 November 1947, an electric multiple unit was in collision with another at Motspur Park due to errors by a fogsignalman. Four people were killed and twelve were injured.[1]


There are two tunnels, built between 1860 and 1867.

Mickleham Tunnel is midway between Leatherhead and Box Hill & Westhumble. It is 524 yards (479 m) long and runs through the lower chalk of Norbury Park, entering the hillside immediately north of one of the three viaducts over the River Mole.[2] Restrictions imposed by the landowner, Thomas Grissell, meant that vertical ventillation shafts could not be constructed and the tunnel portals were given lavish architectural treatment.

Betchworth Tunnel is 0.25 miles (0.40 km) south of Dorking. It is 385 yards (352 m) long with a maximum gradient of 1 in 80 (1.25 per cent). It runs through the upper greensand of the Deepdene Ridge to the east of the town. Construction difficulties delayed the opening south of Dorking. It collapsed on 27 July 1887, remaining closed for over six months.[3]

Typical off-peak journey times from London Victoria to Horsham via Mitcham Junction

Based on the May - December 2006 timetable.

South West Trains, Southern and Thameslink run additional services along parts of this line.

Destination Travelcard
per hour
Change for
Clapham Junction 2 6 6 4 London Waterloo, Wimbledon, Woking, Guildford, Reading, Exeter
Balham 3 - 12 2 London Underground Northern Line
Mitcham Junction 4 - 20 2 Tramlink, Herne Hill, London Blackfriars, Luton
Hackbridge 4 - 23 2
Carshalton 5 - 26 2
Sutton 5 25 29 4 Epsom Downs, West Croydon, Wimbledon
Cheam 5 28 32 4
Ewell East 6 32 36 3
Epsom - 35 40 4 Worcester Park, Raynes Park, Wimbledon
Ashtead - 39 - 2
Leatherhead - 42 - 2 Bookham, Effingham Junction, Guildford
Box Hill & Westhumble - 47 - 1
Dorking - 50 - 2 Dorking (Deepdene) station is five minutes' walk
Holmwood - 58 - 1
Ockley - 62 - 1
Warnham - 67 - 1
Horsham - 72 - 1 Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, Littlehampton

Typical off peak journey times from London Victoria to Epsom Downs via West Croydon

Based on the May - December 2006 timetable.

Southern run additional services between London and West Croydon branded as "Metro".

The line between West Croydon and Sutton has six trains an hour off peak and four trains an hour during the peak unlike other stations further up the line.

Destination Travelcard
Journey time
per hour
Change for
Battersea Park 2 4 2 Denmark Hill, London Bridge
Clapham Junction 2 9 4 London Waterloo, Southampton, Portsmouth Harbour
Wandsworth Common 3 13 4
Balham 3 15 4 London Underground Northern Line
Streatham Common 3 20 4 Tulse Hill, London Bridge
Norbury 3 21 4
Thornton Heath 4 26 4
Selhurst 4 29 4
West Croydon 5 31 4 Norwood Junction, London Bridge
Waddon 5 36 4 London Bridge (2 trains per hour)
Wallington 5 39 4 London Bridge (2 trains per hour)
Carshalton Beeches 5 42 4 London Bridge (2 trains per hour)
Sutton 5 45 4 Epsom, Horsham, Wimbledon, Mitcham Junction, Luton
Belmont 5 49 1
Banstead 6 53 1
Epsom Downs 6 56 1

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Glover, John (2001). Southern Electric. Hersham: Ian Allan. pp. 136, 141. ISBN 0 7110 2807 9. 
  2. Beechcroft G (2009). "Mickleham Tunnel". Railway Structures. Southern E-Group. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  3. Capper I (2010). "Betchworth Tunnel". TQ1849. Geograph Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 

External links