Southern Railway (UK)

From Academic Kids

This article is about the Southern Railway in the United Kingdom. For articles about other Southern Railways around the world, see Southern Railway.

The Southern Railway in the United Kingdom was the smallest of the four railway systems created in the Grouping ordered by the Railways Act of 1921. Confined to the South of England, it owned no trackage north of London. In the area south and east of London the Southern Railway was a virtual monopoly, while its lines to the South-West were largely in competition with the Great Western Railway.

Unlike the three other railway systems remaining after Grouping (the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway and the Great Western), the Southern Railway was a predominantly passenger-oriented railway. The number of passengers carried by the Southern were over a quarter of the nation's total. This is partly because the area covered by the railway encompassed the most populated areas of the nation and much of the commuter zone around London.


Constituent companies

The major constituents of the Southern Railway were:

All these concerns gave the Southern a route mileage of 2,186 (3517 km).

For the complete list, see List of constituent companies of the Southern Railway

Other assets


The density of much of the Southern's trackage and traffic made it a natural candidate for electrification; indeed the LSWR and the LBSCR had already introduced it for some of their lines in the London area before the grouping. The two schemes were incompatible, with the Brighton going for a 6600 Volt overhead system very similar to that used by the Midland Railway for their Lancaster to Morecambe trial section. After the grouping a comparison of the two systems was made and the LSWR's 660V third rail standard adopted for the whole system.

Most of the area immediately south of London was converted, together with the lines to Brighton, Eastbourne and Portsmouth. Only the London suburban part of the former SECR routes were electrified by the Southern Railway. Originally, only electric multiple unit cars used the electrical power, but later on a number of electric locomotives and electric/diesel hybrids were developed.

Other notes

  • The name Southern has been revived as a rebranding of South Central, which operates a significant portion of the former Southern Railways routes to South London, Surrey and Sussex from Victoria and London Bridge.
  • The name "Southern Railway" can still be seen above the eastern entrance to Victoria Station.

See Also

The "big four" pre-nationalisation British railway companies:

Great Western | London Midland & Scottish | London & North Eastern | Southern

de:Southern Railway (Großbritannien)

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