A rail historian believes the time is right to reopen a line that once ran from Alexandra Palace to Finsbury Park.

A rail link between the two destinations via Highgate originally opened 150 years ago - and was at one point planned to become part of the Northern Line.

Transport for London worker and railway historian Nathaniel Dodd is appealing to the Department for Transport to reinstate it as part of the National Rail Network.

He believes that with a growing population and concerns about air pollution and the environment, now would be the optimum time to get trains running again.

He said: "I don't believe it should have been closed in the first place as half a million pounds in World War 2 value was spent on it and it was meant to be part of the Northern Line. It was only not continued because the project was abandoned but it could have been mothballed until the funds were made available."

"Alexandra Palace will benefit directly from the railway, with more than 300,000 visitors every year," he added. 

The station was built by the Muswell Hill Railway (MHR) and opened on May 24, 1873 along with the Palace, he said.

But when the palace burned down two weeks after opening, the train service was considerably reduced and from  August 1, 1873 was stopped for almost two years whilst the Palace was rebuilt.

The station reopened on May 1, 1875, but temporarily closed from August 1882 to March 1885 and September 1885 to May 1889 due to insufficient demand.

When it reopened in March 1891 after another closure, it was renamed Alexandra Park in reference to the wider area rather than just the Palace in order to stoke demand. But the passengers did not materialise, and the original Alexandra Palace name was restored in 1898.

Ham & High: Map of the former railway line from Alexandra Palace to Finsbury ParkMap of the former railway line from Alexandra Palace to Finsbury Park (Image: Nathaniel Dodd)

In 1911 the line was taken over by the Great Northern Railway. After the 1921 Railways Act created the "Big Four" railway companies, the line became part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) from 1923. 

As part of its "New Works Programme, in 1935 London Underground planned to take over the line alongside LNER's routes from Finsbury Park to Edgware and High Barnet, modernise it for use with electric trains and amalgamate it with the Northern line.

Work to modernise the track began in the late 1930s and was well advanced when they were interrupted and halted by the Second World War.

Mr Dodd added: "Because of wartime economy measures, services were reduced to rush hours only, so that after the war the dwindling passenger numbers and a shortage of funds led to the cancellation of the unfinished works in 1950."

British Railways, the successor to the LNER, closed the line for three months until January 7, 1952. Dwindling passenger numbers passenger services to Alexandra Palace saw the last passenger train operated on British Railways on July 3, 1954 along with the rest of the line from Finsbury Park.

The line as far as Muswell Hill continued to be used for goods traffic until May 18, 1957, when the section between Muswell Hill and Highgate was closed altogether.

The tracks between Highgate and Finsbury Park were retained until the 1970s to enable the Northern City Line's tube stock to be transferred to and from Highgate depot.

Mr Dodd said: "With Alexandra Palace celebrating 150 glorious years is it time we consider bringing back the railway that once served this iconic London landmark?"

If you agree, sign the petition by visiting   https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/639163