Monday, 29 October 2007

A beginner's guide to London Overground

London's getting a new trainsetHello random Googlers! You've seen this ad around town and are now wondering what the hell it's on about. Here are some answers.

What is London Overground? From November 11th, Transport for London (TfL) will be given direct control of the local trains services currently operated by Silverlink. These are:

  • North London Line (Richmond to Stratford via North London)
  • West London Line (Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction via Kensington Olympia)
  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line (edge of Hampstead Heath to East London via Walthamstow)
  • Watford DC Line (Euston to Watford Junction, partly shared with the north end of the Bakerloo)
Here's a map

What happens on November 11th? Very little. Same timetable, same trains, but you'll be able to use Oyster Pay As You Go across the network, and the lines will be added to the standard tube map. TfL plan to put staff on all stations at all times they're open, though some may just be security guards. Branding in the early days will be minimal.

When can I expect improvements to the service? From December 9th, the timetables will improve slightly, with longer operating hours and the odd extra train. The next major improvement comes in December 2009, when the Gospel Oak to Barking service doubles to every 15 minutes. The North London Line service frequency is due to double on some sections by 2011, when trains will be extended to four cars. Some improvements are due in the intervening years, but details are hazy.

Are we getting new trains? Yes. All trains will be replaced with brand new ones in the next couple of years. The first will be delivered around a year from now. They'll have seating along the sides, like tube trains, to give more space to stand. The new trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will still be diesel.

Are the stations being upgraded? Yes. This will start with a "deep clean" within the next six months, followed by a fairly ambitious program of rebuilding and upgrading over the next 4 years. Several stations will have ticket barriers installed.

Are any new stations planned? A new station has been built at Shepherd's Bush, but it's opening date has been postponed indefinitely by a construction cockup. Another new station at Imperial Wharf in Chelsea was once a certainty, but due to spiralling costs is looking increasingly doubtful. The disused Primrose Hill station may one day be reopened. That's it.

Will Overground be part of the tube? No. It'll appear on the tube map, but will still be an ordinary timetabled train service. Think of it as a train company run by Transport for London, which it more or less is.

What about the East London Line? The tube's East London Line will close just before Christmas. When it reopens in 2010 it'll be part of Overground, and will have been extended north along a disused viaduct, with new stations at Shoreditch High Street, Haggerston, Hoxton and Dalston Junction. Trains will also continue further south than New Cross, using the existing railway lines to reach Crystal Palace and West Croydon. Here's a brochure with more details.

For more info check the blog archives and the Wikipedia page. Don't bother with the TfL page.