Kensington station

Coordinates: 51°29′55″N 0°12′39″W / 51.4986°N 0.2108°W / 51.4986; -0.2108

Kensington (Olympia) station is a station in West London managed and served by London Overground and also served by Southern and London Underground. It is in Travelcard Zone 2. On the Underground it is the terminus of a short District Line branch, built as part of the Middle Circle, from Earl's Court; on the main-line railway it is on the West London Line from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction by which many trains bypass Central London.


A station was opened by the West London Railway as its southern terminus on 27 May 1844 as "Kensington", located just south of Hammersmith Road; it closed at the end of November 1844 due to the losses made. Although a scant and erratic goods service ran, the line re-opened to passengers with a new station called "Addison Road" on 2 June 1862, located to the north of Hammersmith Road. Metropolitan Railway trains started serving the station in 1864, via a link to Latimer Road, with District Railway trains arriving in 1872. This enabled the so-called "Middle Circle" service to operate via Paddington to the north and South Kensington to the south. From 1869, the L&SWR operated trains from Richmond to London Waterloo via Addison Road, until their branch via Shepherd's Bush closed in 1916.

In 1940, Addison Road, as well as the link to the Metropolitan line at Latimer Road, closed along with the other West London Line stations, but in 1946 it was renamed "Kensington (Olympia)" and became the northern terminus of a peak-hour shuttle service to Clapham Junction, as well as a District line shuttle to Earl's Court. The current District Line bay platform opened in 1958, but the previous (1872) connection between the District and the main line south of the station was not finally lifted until 1992. Between 1979 and 2008 the Clapham Junction service was supplemented by a Cross Country route from Brighton to Manchester Piccadilly(via Birmingham New Street).

In 1994, a full passenger service between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction was reinstated after a gap of 54 years.

This station is quieter than in the past, even though for many years the passenger service was only a few peak-hour main-line trains to and from Clapham Junction, with Underground trains only during exhibition times. Many freight trains pass through the station, as the West London Line is the main freight route from north of London to the south-east of England and the Channel Tunnel.

Before Eurostar services transferred in November 2007 to St Pancras International Eurostar trains passed through Kensington Olympia going from Waterloo International station to North Pole depot and the station was a backup terminus for the services should Waterloo International have become unusable and immigration facilities were maintained there. The former British Rail Motorail services which carried passengers and their cars between London and many parts of the country used to terminate here. The car park for the service is now used by Earls Court Olympia for exhibition vehicles, & Europcar for car rental and is called "Olympia Motorail Car Park P4".

The link to the Great Western Main Line at North Pole Junction, three miles to the north, avoiding the western central London terminus of Paddington station, meant that the station was to play an important role in the Cold War should a nuclear exchange have seemed likely. Secret plans entailed use of the station, in the prelude to a nuclear war, to evacuate several thousand civil servants to the Central Government War Headquarters underground bunker in Wiltshire.


The railway here forms the boundary between two London Boroughs and the southbound platform lies in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea while the northbound and London Underground platforms are in Hammersmith and Fulham.

London bus routes 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 391, C1, night route N9, N28 and coaches routes 701 and 702 all pass close to the station.


The station appears in some National Rail maps and timetables as Kensington Olympia. However, on London Underground maps and the London Overground-maintained station signage it appears as Kensington (Olympia). The name Kensington (Olympia) is also used on the latest National Rail "London Connections" map. The variant with brackets is the name given to the station in the London Railway Atlas, published by Ian Allan in 2009. On the dot matrix indicators on District line trains, the station is shown as simply Olympia.


National Rail services are provided by London Overground and Southern.

The London Overground services in trains per hour are:

  • 4 northbound to Willesden Junction, of which 2 continue to Stratford.
  • 4 southbound to Clapham Junction.

Southern operate between Milton Keynes Central and South Croydon typically once an hour.

The District line has a rather irregular short shuttle service of two or three trains per hour to High Street Kensington via Earl's Court. One late evening train runs daily from Kensington (Olympia) to Upminster.

Transport for London have announced plans to effectively close the regular weekday District line service from December 2011. The shuttle to High Street Kensington will only run at weekends and during major exhibitions.

Building Activity

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