Kensington Olympia Station
West Kensington, London
Olympia Way or Addison Road, Kensington, London W14 0NE
- Shepherds Bush Station (Overground) (0.8 km)
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Gipsy Lane, Barnes, London SW15 5RG
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3 reviews of Kensington Olympia Station in English
This station does have trains to Croydon and Milton Keynes and local services but sadly its potential as a through London station has never been realised. Facilities are basic but clean. Adjacent to Olympia exhibition centre so the ideal way to get to an exhibition
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How could anyone improve on what dmj1962 has written!
Just to add that it has the feel of a 'forgotter branch line' when trying to get there at the weekend. It takes longer to wait for a train to go there than any other part of the journey from Liverpool Street Station.
Nowadays, most people think of Kensington Olympia as simply the tube station for the adjacent Olympia Exhibition Centre, and indeed it is very convenient for that. But it has a fascinating and complex history of its own, and was once one of the largest and grandest stations in London.
The first line in the area was the West London line, opened in May 1844, running from the Euston-Birmingham Line at Kensal Green and terminating just south of the present station, at Kensington Canal Basin. A half-hourly passenger service was provided, but was not a success and was discontinued later the same year. The line became a busy goods artery, however, supplying coal to depots in Shepherd’s Bush and Kensington.
In 1863, this line was extended to Clapham Junction, and a circuitous service operated from Southall to Victoria station via Battersea. In 1864, the station on the present site was opened, called simply ‘Kensington’, (it was renamed ‘Kensington Addison Road’ in 1868 when High Street Kensington opened). This coincided with the opening of another branch line, this time from Latimer Road on the Hammersmith & City line. In 1869, yet another branch opened, from Hammersmith Grove Road station (adjacent to to-day’s H&C station) up to Shepherd’s Bush Green and then curving back down again to Kensington Olympia. This enabled Richmond trains to run via Olympia, West Brompton and Battersea to Waterloo. Finally, in 1872, the District Railway built a short line from Earl’s Court.
Thus Kensington Addison Road became a major station, with trains running in literally all directions. In 1886, the opening of the Olympia Exhibition hall provided yet another source of traffic. The station was rebuilt on a grand scale, with two long through platforms and bays at both ends. Gradually, however, the development of other underground lines ebbed traffic away. The Richmond service and the line to Hammersmith closed in 1916. Although an electric service to Willesden Junction was inaugurated in 1916, this service, together with the branch to Latimer Road closed in 1940. In 1947, the station was renamed Kensington Olympia, but by then it had reduced solely an ad-hoc Underground service to Earl’s Court, run in conjunction with exhibitions at Olympia. By the 1960s, the magnificent buildings had been demolished.
In 1966, however, the station received a new lease of life with the opening of the Motorail terminal, with car-transport services to wide range of destinations in Scotland, Wales and the West Country. These services ceased in 1988, and the Motorail terminal closed down. It is now used as a covered car-park, and the reception area is now the booking hall and ticket office.
But a renaissance began in 1986 when the District Line recommenced a full service, joined in 1994 by a rejuvenated service on the West London Line, from Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction, and from Watford Junction to Brighton.
There are now effectively four sets of services:
- Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction service every half hour, augmented in frequency and extended to Stratford via the North London line in the peaks.
- from Watford Junction to Clapham Junction, Gatwick Airport and Brighton (operated by Southern; runs hourly, cut back to Clapham Junction in the evening, and on Sundays)
- District Line services to High Street Kensington via Earls Court: about every 15 minutes, with extra trains for major exhibitions;
- five Cross-country trains a day, to/from Birmingham, Manchester, Gatwick Airport and Brighton. These are due to be rerouted away from Kensington in 2009.
To accommodate the West London Line services, a new platform (number 3) was built on the east side. District line trains have their own bay platform on the west side of the station, next to the ticket office. There are passenger toilets available when the ticket office is open, but they are not suitable for wheelchair users. Other services include cycle storage racks, a first-aid post, public telephones and a small coffee kiosk on platforms 1 and 2.
The station has step-free access throughout, although there is no lift to the footbridge, so passengers wanting to cross to platform 3 for Clapham Junction must use the Addison Road entrance. (It’s a good 5 minute walk, via the road bridge, from the ticket office and the other platforms.)
Though a major interchange once more, used by over 1.25 million passengers a year, the rather spartan passenger facilities give it a rather uninspiring feel, enlivened only during major exhibitions. There are plans afoot to improve the frequency of trains along the West London Line in the next five years.
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