Latest Rail News

07.11.14

First five-car trains launched on London Overground

The first five-car Class 378 took to the rails on the London Overground network yesterday as part of Transport for London’s £320m programme to boost capacity, LOCIP.  

The extra carriage will increase capacity 170 passengers per train.

The roll-out of the longer trains will start on the East London Line (ELL), followed by the North and West London lines, and be completed by the end of 2015. In total, 29 trains are being extended on the ELL, one a week for just over half a year. It is expected that the North London Line extensions and disused platform reopenings will be simpler than in phase one.

London Overground will also be able to carry more passengers on the Gospel Oak to Barking route once the line is electrified, and its diesel trains are replaced with electric ones, by 2018. Passenger capacity on the Watford to Euston line will be increased when the power supply is upgraded.

To accommodate the longer five-car trains a programme of infrastructure upgrades were required. These consisted of platform extensions across the Overground network, construction of a new train stabling facilities at Silwood and reconfiguration of the existing maintenance depots at New Cross Gate and Willesden.

London Overground director Mike Stubbs, in an interview with RTM that appears in our current edition, said the new £28m Silwood sidings were a “crucial” part of the infrastructure upgrades allowing for the extension from four-car to five-car running.

He added: “At our main depot at New Cross Gate, currently we stable four-car trains and we have some of these stable sidings taking effectively three trains, so they are 12 cars long.

“If you extend your trains to five-car, you can get two trains in, with a bit of spare track – but you’ve got another train. So where are we going to put it? So, because the depot at New Cross Gate is very tightly constrained, we had to find somewhere else to take 10 trains, which were displaced out of the depot.”

At stations where platform extensions were not a viable option to accommodate the longer trains, London Overground has introduced selective door operating, which will be facilitated by the open walk-through design of the carriages.

This was required at Whitechapel (temporarily until Crossrail completes construction), Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water as it is not possible to extend the platforms to the required length without completely rebuilding the stations. Train announcements will provide advance warning about which doors will not open once the longer trains are introduced.

TfL’s Managing Director of London Rail, Mike Brown, said: “The ever-increasing popularity of the London Overground network has seen a huge rise in demand. As a result, we are now on course to carry 135m passengers - nearly four times the number we carried when we took over this railway in 2007.

“To enable us to continue and maintain the high levels of safe, reliable and frequent travel that our customers have come to expect, it is vital that we deliver more capacity by lengthening our trains from four to five carriages.

“We have set a standard for highly successful rail services and this is the model we will follow when we take over three-quarters of the rail services out of Liverpool Street station next year.”

From 31 May, TfL will look after three quarters of all journeys in and out of Liverpool Street station – having integrated West Anglia and Liverpool Street to Shenfield rail services into the TfL network. The West Anglia services will join the London Overground Network, and the Liverpool Street to Shenfield services will be run by TfL as the first phase of the introduction of TfL-run Crossrail.

Consultations are currently underway on extending London Overground to Old Oak Common in the west of London and Barking Riverside in the east.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “With punctual services and an ever growing number of passengers I think it’s fair to say that London Overground has been a fantastic railway success story. Adding an extra carriage to the trains that criss-cross this network will allow more people to take advantage of what is now one of the most reliable and trusted rail services in the UK. As London’s population continues to rise, it is investment in our transport network like this which will help to keep London and its economy on the up.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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