|Owner||Transport for London|
|Locale||Greater London; Three Rivers; Watford, UK|
|Transit type||Commuter rail
|Number of lines||4 (5 by 2010)|
|Number of stations||55|
|Daily ridership||approx 30,000|
|Operator(s)||London Overground Rail Operations
(until 2014 or 2016)
|System length||86 km (53.4 Miles)|
London Overground (LO) is an urban rail service in London, England. It is operated by London Overground Rail Operations as part of the National Rail network, under the franchise control and branding of Transport for London (TfL). Since the start of operations in 2007, it has consisted of four routes; the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, North London Line, West London Line and Watford DC Line. During 2010 the East London Line, which was formerly part of the London Underground and has been closed since 2007 for rebuilding and extension, will form part of the network.
|Franchise(s):||Operated by LOROL under contract to TfL, 11 November 2007–2014 (optional extension to 2016)|
|Main region(s):||Greater London|
|Fleet size:||32 (current)|
|Stations called at:||55|
|National Rail abbreviation:||LO|
|Parent company:||Transport for London|
Rail services in Great Britain are run on a system of rail franchises and operated by a number of private train operating companies, managed by National Rail. The London Underground, owned and run by TfL, is not part of this system.
A pilot scheme was launched in 2003 to bring National Rail services operated by multiple companies under one branding umbrella within London. Using the Overground Network brand, TfL introduced consistent information displays, station signage and maps on selected routes in South London. Although this pilot was purely an exercise in branding, this was the first instance of TfL having a visible influence over National Rail services in London. The Overground Network pilot has since been withdrawn.
In January 2004 the Department for Transport announced a review of the rail industry in the United Kingdom. As part of that review, proposals were put forward by Transport for London for a "London Regional Rail Authority" to be established, which would give TfL regulatory powers over rail services in and around Greater London.
A result of this consultation was the transfer of part of the Silverlink rail franchise over to TfL control. This is to date the only agreed movement towards establishing a London-wide rail authority.
The Silverlink franchise had two areas of operation: Silverlink County (regional services from Euston to Northampton, St Albans Abbey, Bletchley and Bedford); and Silverlink Metro (services mostly within the London urban area). When the franchise was split up in 2007, County services were taken over by the London Midland franchise, and the Metro services came under TfL control.
On 20 February 2006, the Department for Transport announced that TfL would take over management of services then provided by Silverlink Metro. Tenders were invited from potential contractors to operate the service under the provisional name of the North London Railway. On 5 September 2006, London Overground branding was announced, and it was confirmed that the extended East London Line would be included.
The official launch ceremony was on 12 November 2007 at Hampstead Heath railway station by the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, with a later media event on the disused bay platform at Willesden Junction station.
The launch was accompanied by a marketing campaign entitled "London's new train set", with posters and leaflets carrying an image of a model railway retail package containing the new Overground trains, tracks and staff.
At the launch TfL undertook to revamp the routes by improving service frequencies, staffing all stations, improving station facilities, introducing new rolling stock and by allowing Oyster card pay as you go to be used throughout the network from the outset.
All stations were "deep-cleaned" following the TfL takeover, and the Silverlink branding was removed. Station signage is being gradually replaced with Overground-branded signs using TfL's corporate New Johnston typeface. There are temporary adhesive signs at some stations, to be replaced with full-size enamel platform name signs using the orange and blue Overground roundel as station refurbishment progresses.
The Overground is operated by a private company, LOROL. Following a model similar to that already used for the Docklands Light Railway, TfL invited tenders for operation of the Overground. Unlike National Rail franchisees, TfL would set fares, procure rolling stock and decide service levels. The operator would take an element of revenue risk: TfL take 90% of the revenue risk, 10% of revenue is retained by the operator, and the operator is responsible for revenue collection.
The tenderers were MTR Laing (a 50:50 joint venture between MTR Corporation and Laing Rail), Govia, National Express Group (the operator of Silverlink), and NedRailways. In December 2006, this was narrowed to Govia and MTR Laing, who were selected to submit their ‘best and final offers’, and on 19 June 2007 it was announced that MTR Laing had been selected.
The contract was signed on 2 July 2007, for seven years with the option of a two-year extension. In preparation for the launch of the Overground, MTR Laing renamed itself London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL).
In December 2007, Henderson Group, the parent company of John Laing plc, announced the sale of the Laing Rail division, which comprises half of LOROL, Chiltern Railways and a stake in the Wrexham & Shropshire open-access railway operator. In April 2008, Laing Rail was bought by the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, which now holds a 50% stake in LOROL. The price was said to be around €170 million.
On 15 April 2009, the North London Line platforms at Stratford moved to new high-level platforms 1 & 2 from the old low-level platforms 1 & 2, the latter being made available for the DLR's upcoming Stratford International service (due open 2010). Platforms 1 and 2 comprise an island platform with step-free links to platform 12 and the subway linking to platforms 3 to 11. On 27 September 2009, Imperial Wharf station opened on the West London Line, between West Brompton and Clapham Junction.
The initial network, service levels and timetables are a continuation of Silverlink Metro services. As the Overground name implies, the vast majority of the network is above ground, mostly consisting of railway lines connecting areas outside Central London, with a considerable portion of the network in Zone 2. The network also uses Euston in central London, the southern terminus of the Watford DC Line.
The Overground consists of the following lines:
The network interchanges with the Bakerloo, Central, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Northern and Victoria lines and the Docklands Light Railway. The Overground lines appear on the standard Tube maps issued by Transport for London, and a separate map of the system is also available.
The routes cover many areas of northern Greater London, and TfL may see direct control of the lines as attractive because:
The following are the general service frequencies on individual lines:
The Overground serves the following stations:
|North London Line||West London Line||Watford DC Line||Gospel Oak to Barking Line||East London Line
* Step-free access on eastbound platform only
Ticketing on the Overground uses a mix of paper and the Oyster Card electronic smart card. As with all National Rail and TfL services in London, passengers may use a Travelcard (daily, seven-day, monthly or annual), and as on other National Rail Services in London, paper single, return and cheap day return tickets priced under the zonal fare scheme are available. In addition, TfL permits the use of Oyster "pay-as-you-go" (PAYG).
As part of an effort to improve safety and protect revenue, TfL has announced that it will introduce ticket barriers at a number of stations. The stations that did not have barriers when TfL took over the line have been fitted with standalone Oyster Card readers similar to those at ungated Underground and DLR stations. The validator at Blackhorse Road which previously was needed to enter/exit the Oyster card system when using the line is now disused.
The ticket stock for the Overground continues to be common National Rail stock, as Overground services remain part of the National Rail network, but with a large TfL roundel in the centre and the repeated legend "Rail Settlement Plan" in a light green background.
Paper tickets are charged at the old Silverlink prices, which are generally lower than National Rail London zonal fares and Underground fares. For example, the ticket above shows that the adult single fare between Harrow & Wealdstone (Zone 5) and Hatch End (Zone 6) is £1.50. This would be £1.90 under the National Rail zonal fare system and £3.00 under London Underground fares.
Oyster PAYG is charged on the same zone-based rules as for the Underground and the Docklands Light Railway. Oyster is generally cheaper than paper tickets: for example, the fare between Harrow & Wealdstone and Hatch End is £1.00 with Oyster PAYG. Stations outside Greater London, except for Watford Junction, are included in the newly created Travelcard Zones 7-9, while Acton Central, Hampstead Heath and Willesden Junction were re-zoned on 2 January 2008 (from 2 to 3, 3 to 2 and 3 to 2/3 respectively), which will also reduce some zone-based fares.
The public presentation of the Overground is visually associated with existing TfL design standards, using similar graphic design elements to those used on Underground publicity, signage and other elements, drawing on the design heritage of Frank Pick. These design standards will be applied to the new fleet of trains.
The routes are branded with a new version of the roundel, the iconic bar-and-circle symbol associated with transport services in London. The Overground version consists of an orange ring with a blue bar. The roundel was adopted from an earlier design by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 and which has spawned many variations applied to succeeding operations. The current TfL versions use a hollow circle or ring rather than the original solid circle.
In common with other TfL services, the Overground is denoted by a designated sector colour, a vivid orange (Pantone 158C). Similarly to the presentation of the DLR, the Overground is shown on Tube maps as a double stripe rather than a solid line, to denote its status as a service that is not an Underground line.
Although branded as a TfL service, the Overground remains as, and is monitored for performance as, part of the National Rail network, unlike the Underground. The most recent figures released by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), for July to September 2009, showed that it had achieved 93.7% of the Public Performance Measure (PPM) target for punctuality and reliability set by the ORR. This was very similar to the average PPM for all London and the South East railway companies. The MAA of the PPM for the 12 months to 30 September 2009 was 92.3%. TfL, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has investigated the use of data from the Oyster smartcard ticketing system to measure the performance of the Overground explicitly from the passenger perspective.
Since London Overground took over operations from the previous franchisee, Silverlink, the network has been operated (apart from the East London Line) using Class 313 EMUs, Class 508 EMUs and Class 150 DMUs inherited from Silverlink. The units retain Silverlink green and purple livery, with temporary London Overground branding. The three Class 508 units were withdrawn in late 2008. The East London line, previously operated with London Underground A60 and A62 Stock, is temporarily closed and a rail replacement bus service is in operation.
TfL is now in the process of introducing brand new rolling stock on each of the London Overground lines. This programme will be carried out over three to five years, and will include the former London Underground East London Line, which is being converted to suburban rail operation.
From 2009 the electrified lines will be operated by Class 378 Capitalstars to be built by Bombardier Transportation. The East London Line will initially have 20 four-car units and the North London Line 24 three-car units. In 2011, the North London Railway fleet will be extended to four cars and the East London Railway will gain three extra trains.
The new Class 378 electric trains were officially unveiled at Willesden Junction station on 13 July 2009. They include a number of Tube-style features, including sideways seating (upholstery in Misha Black's District-line-style moquette) and more standing room to fit in with a high-capacity metro service. The trains also introduce new walk-through open carriage interiors and air conditioning. The new fleet is currently undergoing testing on the network and is graudally being brought into service. The first Capitalstars began passenger operation in July 2009.
The new trains are to be leased from a newly-formed Rolling Stock Operating Company (ROSCO) named QW Rail Leasing, with the lease running until 2027. TfL had originally planned to buy the new Class 378 EMU fleet outright, but in February 2008, TfL announced that it would lease rather than purchase the trains. TfL took this option to free up the £250 million capital cost of purchase, combined with reducing the risk of making a loss through any future sell-on of the fleet.
The Class 378 stock will not be able to operate over the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLIN) as the line is not electrified. While electrification is advocated by TfL, local boroughs and passenger groups, it has not been included as part of Network Rail's Route Utilisation Strategy for the Cross London Route. TfL has indicated that it intends to use new two-car Class 172 Turbostar diesel trains from 2009. MTR/Laing will lease eight two-car units from a ROCSO, rather than their being purchased by TfL, as was originally planned with the Class 378 units. The eight Class 172/0 units were ordered by Angel Trains on behalf of TfL in November 2007.
If the plan to replace the Watford DC Line with a Bakerloo line service to Watford Junction goes ahead, the 1972 Stock fleet on the Bakerloo line could be augmented by newly-retired Victoria line 1967 Stock trains, although these would need modification.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Seat layout||Number of seats||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 150/1||diesel multiple unit||75||120||6||2||2+2 (high density)||146 (based on previous 2+3 seating)||Gospel Oak-Barking||1984-87|
|Class 313/1||electric multiple unit||75||120||10 (13 Withdrawn)||3||2+2/2+3 (high density)||202 (reduced from 228)||North London
|electric multiple unit||75||120||24 (20 Delivered)||3||Longitudinal||North London
|Class||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Seat layout||Routes operated||Built|
|diesel multiple unit||75||120||8||2||2+2||Gospel Oak-Barking||2010|
|electric multiple unit||75||120||20||4||Longitudinal||East London||2009-2010|
|electric multiple unit||75||120||10||4||Longitudinal||North London
*Class 378/0 will become 378/2 when a fourth car is added
|Class||Type||Image||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Routes operated||Built||Notes|
|Class 508/3||electric multiple unit||75||120||2||3||Watford DC Line||1979-1980 (Refurbished 2003)||Transferred to Merseyrail 2009|
All older Overground trains remain in Silverlink's purple and lime green livery with yellow doors. Silverlink logos have been removed and Overground banners have been added to most units. It is not expected that any more cosmetic changes will be made to the livery and interiors until the delivery of the new rolling stock.
New Class 378 trains have been painted in a new livery, similar to the Underground's, which has blue and white coaches with orange doors and yellow fronts.
The expansion of the Overground network has been widely publicised by TfL as part of its transport strategy. It is proposed to add two new lines to the network, which would link to form a ring around London. The East London Railway is under construction and nearing completion, while funding for the South London Line has recently been secured. Prospective 2010 Tube maps were released to the press illustrating the potential full extent of the planned network.
As part of the programme to introduce four-car trains on the network, the North London Line is to be closed between Gospel Oak and Stratford from February 20 until May 31, 2010. This is to enable the installation of a new signalling system, track renewal work, refurbishing some stations and the extension of 30 platforms. Engineering work will continue until May 2011, during which reduced services will operate and Sunday services will be suspended.
The East London Line will become part of the London Overground network when the Phase 1 extensions to the line are completed. The line was closed on 22 December 2007 and is being extended southwards to new termini at Crystal Palace and West Croydon by utilising the existing Southern route and northwards (mostly along the former Broad Street viaduct) to the re-opened Dalston Junction.
In June 2008, work on the line was reported to be due for completion in October 2009 with a scheduled re-opening date of June 2010. The line is now expected to come back into passenger service in April 2010, ahead of schedule.
When the East London Line is added to the network, this will add substantial sections of line that are in tunnels (including the Thames Tunnel) (the oldest tunnel under a navigable river in the world), and will create the anomaly that the London Overground line will be below the London Underground line at Whitechapel.
In the original Phase 1 plans, the East London Line terminated just south of the North London Line, at Dalston Junction station. The former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has since stated that Phase 1 of the East London Line project would be extended to Highbury & Islington, in order to make a connection with the North London Line, the Victoria Line and First Capital Connect services. This is not planned to open until February 2011.
TfL has proposed re-extending the Bakerloo Line to Watford Junction. It has been suggested that most or all of the line from Queen's Park to Watford Junction would be used exclusively by the Underground, and Overground services would be withdrawn.
As part of this change, Overground services would be diverted at Primrose Hill Junction via the currently freight-only route through Primrose Hill (closed since 1992) to Camden Road, providing a new service running between Queen's Park and Stratford. As a result of this service change, Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead would no longer have direct services to central London and the Overground would lose its only presence at a London Terminus.
The Phase 2 plans of the East London Line extension incorporate an extension from Surrey Quays along the South London Line to Clapham Junction. This would then create an orbital network around Central London, fulfilling the Orbirail concept. The extension is scheduled to open in May 2012.
The South London route will branch off from the East London line south of Surrey Quays and will involve the re-opening of a stretch of disused East London Railway Company line. The line will be conveyed via a bridge over Surrey Canal Road to Old Kent Road Junction where it will join the South London line at Queens Road Peckham. The line will then follow the existing National Rail route via Denmark Hill as far as Wandsworth Road, then branch off at Factory Junction, passing through Battersea towards Clapham Junction, where it will connect with the existing West London line Overground services. The West London services arrive and depart from platform 2 on the north side of the station, but no information has yet been published about platform provision for the South London line services.
Funding for the South London extension project was secured in February 2009, including £64 million, which was received from the DfT, and £15 million from TfL.
TfL had previously suggested that the South London line project should be funded as part of the Thameslink Programme, due to capacity constraints at London Bridge station once the Thameslink upgrade has taken place. Network Rail's South London Route Utilisation Strategy has also very strongly emphasised the need for this extension to the ELL, particularly in respect of the even more restricted capacity during the reconstruction of London Bridge.
The planned South London route passes over both Loughborough Junction and Brixton stations, without stopping. The proposals have been criticised for not including new interchange stations with Thameslink and the London Underground Victoria lines. Under current proposals, no stations are planned at these locations as the line is on high railway arches, making the cost of any station construction prohibitive.
In the March 2008 edition of The Londoner newspaper TfL announced an intention to take over more routes in South London when Southern's franchise runs out in 2009. However, this plan was not included in the franchise tender documents, nor in the 2008 ten-year plan.
East London line operator
|Operator of London Overground
2007 - present
(East London Line from 2010)
North London Railways franchise
|Owner||Transport for London|
|Locale||Greater London; Three Rivers; Watford, UK|
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||4 (6 by 2012)|
|Number of stations||55|
|Daily ridership||approx 30,000|
London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL)|
(until 2014 or 2016)
|System length||86 km (53.4 Miles)|
London Overground (LO) is a commuter rail service in London, UK. The London Overground name is the brand, which is used by the Transport for London (TfL) for train services on four railway lines in the London area: the Euston-Watford DC Line, the North London Line, the West London Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.