Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway

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Great Western and
Great Central Joint Railway
GWR Bicester Cut-off Line to Banbury
GCR line to Grendon Underwood Jct.
Former Ashendon Jct
Chearsley Viaduct over River Thame
A418 road
Haddenham & Thame Parkway
A4129 road
Ilmer Halt
Wycombe Rly to Oxford and Aylesbury
Princes Risborough
Saunderton Summit and Tunnel
A4010 road
West Wycombe
A4128 road
A404 road
High Wycombe
Wycombe Railway to Maidenhead
White House Farm Tunnel
A355 road
Seer Green and Jordans
Gerrards Cross
A413 road
M25 motorway
Denham Golf Club
A412 road
Denham goods yard
River Colne
Grand Junction Canal
Uxbridge High Street
South Harefield Halt
South Harefield goods yard
West Ruislip
A4180 road
Ruislip Gardens
South Ruislip
Northolt Junction
GCR to London Marylebone
GWR to London Paddington

The Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway (GW&GCJR) was a joint venture supported by the Great Western Railway (GWR) and Great Central Railway (GCR) and run by the Great Western and Great Central Joint Committee. The original arrangement was agreed between the two companies in September 1898. The line and the working arrangement were authorised by the Great Western and Great Central Railway Companies Act of 1 August 1899 and opened in 1906. It was also known as the Alternative Route.

Early history

In 1898 the GCR's London Extension was in the final stages of construction, ready for its opening in March 1899. The London Extension had been designed to meet up with the Metropolitan Railway (MetR) tracks at Quainton Road north west of Aylesbury. Since the inception of the project relations between the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company (the GCR's original name) and MetR had deteriorated markedly. This was one of the prime motivations on the part of the GCR to bring the GW&GCJR into existence. When the route was completed it provided an alternative route for inter-city expresses from its wholly owned and operated London Extension from north of its junction with the MetR to its tracks at Northolt Junction on the new GCR line to Neasden Junction authorised by the Great Central Act of 12 August 1898. By the time of its opening the new pair of MetR double-tracks, from Neasden to the approach to Marylebone station had been ceded to the GCR in 1903. Thus the GCR was no longer at the mercy of the MetR. Ironically by that time reasonable relations had been established with the MetR.

The GW&GCJR included major upgrading of the GWR line between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough, converting it from single to double track. There is a two-mile section between Saunderton and Princes Risborough stations where the up and down lines follow different routes that run roughly parallel but up to 200 yards apart. The down (northbound) line follows the course of the original GWR single-track line, apart from a short section that was realigned slightly to the west in order to avoid the steeply-graded Saunderton Summit,[1] whereas the up (southbound) line takes a slightly straighter and flatter route which passes through the short Saunderton Tunnel.

A junction was formed from the GCR tracks at Ashendon Junction and the link to Princes Risborough completed. At the southern end, another new line was built from High Wycombe via Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Denham and Ruislip to Northolt Junction where the line divided: the northern path was the GCR's link to Neasden, and southern path led on to the GWR's mainline via Greenford.

Later history

Whilst the Great Central Railway was a constituent company of the London and North Eastern Railway, the title of the joint railway did not change at the 1923 Grouping, and in the Transport Act 1947 it was listed as one of the bodies whose undertakings are to be transferred to the British Transport Commission on 1 January 1948,[2] thus becoming part of British Railways.

Presently, major sections of the route form the southern part of Chiltern Railways main line from Birmingham Snow Hill to London's Marylebone station via Bicester, specifically from Princes Risborough to Neasden Junction. The section between South Ruislip and Old Oak Common Junction is used for one daily passenger train to Paddington.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Transport Act 1947, schedules 3 & 4, pp.145,148 "The Great Western and Great Central Railways Joint Committee"


  • Dow, George (1965). Great Central. Vol II : Domination of Watkin, 1864-1899. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1469-8. 
  • Dow, George (1965). Great Central. Vol III : Fay Sets the Pace, 1900-1922. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0263-0. 
  • His Majesty's Government (6 August 1947). "Transport Act 1947 (10 & 11 Geo. 6 ch. 49)" (PDF). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. Retrieved 15 September 2009. 
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