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J Murphy & Sons to carry out electrification of Gospel Oak-Barking route

J Murphy & Sons Limited will carry out electrification works along the 12-mile line from Gospel Oak to Barking on the Anglia route, after winning the £56.9m contract from Network Rail.

The contract, which was awarded three months later than originally expected, will allow work to start on the 'Goblin' project in October. 

As well as replacing the old diesel stock with cleaner, greener electric trains, the project will also provide an alternative freight path from the Thames Estuary docks, given that the line is a joint strategic freight route with the North London Line.

The CP5 enhancements delivery plan, updated in June, said: “It will also enable freight operators to use electric traction (typically Class 86 or 92) on flows emanating from the North Thameside area, so avoiding the need for electric traction across the Great Eastern Main Line at grade at Forest Gate Junction in order to access the North London line.”

In June, Bombardier won the contract to build 45 new trains for London Overground, eight of which are to serve Gospel Oak to Barking post-electrification in four-carriage formation. 

J Murphy & Sons bagged the deal over another bidder with a more cost-effective option, and will hire sub-contractors for nearly half of the works (by spend). It had previously scooped framework agreements – granted to nine suppliers with a combined value of £1.6bn – to carry out works in the London North West (LNW) North and South areas.

1280px-Gospel Oak to Barking line.jpgClick on the image to enlarge it.

The electrification contract runs until April 2017 but, if carried out according to the planned timeline, “major on-site works” will commence in June 2016 with services ready to operate a year later. Network Rail's official classification of the works is for GRIP stages 4-8: 'Main Works – Civils, Structure, Building, Track, & Bonding'.

Earlier this year, rail minister Claire Perry MP confirmed that the line’s electrification programme would cost £115m, with DfT and TfL allocating £90m and £25m respectively towards it (2013 prices).

But Glenn Wallis, secretary of Barking-Gospel Oak Line User Group (BGORUG), said at the time: “Our expert rail industry advisers tell us that for Network Rail to have taken three years to complete GRIP 3 [completed in March this year] indicates that they have not exactly been throwing resources at the job.

“The likelihood of Network Rail completing electrification of the line by mid-2017 is now said to be improbable.”

In February 2013, the group sent a letter to John Larkinson, programme director at the Office of Rail and Road (formerly the Office of Rail Regulation), saying it was “deeply concerned” about the “continuing delay” in electrifying the route “in the face of the obvious benefits that electrification would bring for all train operators using the line”.

“BGOLUG is therefore objecting to the failure of the Network Rail Strategic Business Plan for CP5 to include the electrification of the Barking-Gospel Oak route in the schemes it is proceeding with in CP5.”

The CP5 enhancements delivery plan published in June detailed the core electrification scheme in the line:

  • Gospel Oak Junction to South Tottenham West Junction;
  • Gospel Oak platform 3 (bay platform);
  • Carlton Road Junction to Junction Road Junction;
  • Upper Holloway Reception Line;
  • Harringay Park Junction to Harringay Junction;
  • South Tottenham East Junction to Woodgrange Park Junction;
  • Barking Station Junction to Barking Platform 1 buffer stops; and
  • All crossovers between Gospel Oak Junction / Carlton Road Junction and Barking Station Junction


100Andthirty   29/09/2015 at 13:07

Excellent news. You refer to the "old diesel stock". Whilst it is older than the not-built-yet electric trains planned for the route, the class 172 units are not exactly old. they could reasonably classed as "nearly new"

RTM   29/09/2015 at 13:26

Yes, a fair point! Perhaps "current diesel stock" would have made the point better...

Rob Morel   29/09/2015 at 13:56

Interesting future journey opportunities linking the Thameslink route at Carlton Road junction (Kentish Town) with NLL at Junction Road Junction J Murphy & sons current HQ backing on to the 'Tottenham' lines based in the old Kentish Town Motive Power Depot most convenient for construction base

Adrian Norman   30/09/2015 at 16:59

Please clarify - the headline says "J Murphy & Sons to carry out electrification ....". The article says "Network Rail's official classification of the works is for GRIP stages 4-8: 'Main Works – Civils, Structure, Building, Track, & Bonding'". What is the scope of this contract?

RTM   30/09/2015 at 17:10

Hello Adrian, we're trying to clarify that with NR / J Murphy & Sons. All the reports so far just say "electrification work", but the official notice says: Permanent Works and Temporary Works in connection with Gospel Oak to Barking Electrification Multi-discipline Design and Build. Which doesn't make clear if they're also responsible for the E&P / OLE elements, etc.

Martin   29/12/2015 at 08:41

Percussive driving of piles at 03.30 on Christmas Day morning !! Was the piling method part of the cost effective solution, was this a Murphy's or Network Rail's proposal ?? It disturbed residents over a kilometre away. Although the work sounds essential more considerate construction methods should be employed.

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