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London Overground operators launch competing bids for new concession

The highly successful joint venture that transformed London Overground is to be broken up as the shortlist to operate the franchise includes competing bids from Arriva and MTR.

LOROL, the two companies’ joint venture, has been operating the concession since it first launched in 2007 when Transport for London took over the failing Silverlink service.

London Overground now carries more than a 176 million customers a year and is one of the UK’s most punctual and reliable rail services with high levels of customer satisfaction.

Arriva, a subsidiary of German state-owned Deutsche Bahn, also currently operates several main line franchises including Wales & Borders, Chiltern and CrossCountry.

In July 2014 it was announced that MTR would be the operator of Crossrail services.

The two partners have now decided to launch competing bids to operate London Overground themselves, and both have made it to the shortlist stage.

They will also be competing against Metroline Rail Ltd, better known for operating many of London’s buses, and a joint venture between Keolis and Go-Ahead called LoKeGo.

Bidders will be expected to show how they will improve service levels and reliability, especially on services into and out of Liverpool St which have been plagued by delays since joining the London Overground network at the end of May.

The new operator will also have to boost frequency on the North London line by 25%, from eight to 10 trains per hour.

The contract will include options to introduce an all-night service at weekends from 2017 and will also cover the operation of services on the proposed extension of the Overground to Barking Riverside.

Mike Brown MVO, MD of London Rail, said: “London Overground customers have experienced major improvements over recent years. We have taken neglected and often unstaffed stations and transformed them into modern and useful parts of the transport system, evidenced by a five-fold increase in passenger numbers.

“The new operator will play a key role in continuing that success and introducing further improvements including new air-conditioned trains. In the meantime we're working to improve our services every day, especially on the new routes we've recently taken over, where services need to be brought up to the high standards seen elsewhere on London Overground.”

RTM previously reported on the recent London Overground order of fleet of 45 new trains that is set to be introduced from 2018 on the Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) and Chingford routes, as well as on the routes between Barking and Gospel Oak and between Romford and Upminster.

The new operator will take over when the current concession ends in November 2016.

(Picture by: Jim Linwood)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


Stephen Cryan   01/07/2015 at 19:09

Is it not time for the DfT to define precisely what London Overground is or should be? If LOROL is now running services into Euston and Liverpool Street then should not the services from other termini be included?. I would include ALL suburban services which remain in the London boundaries, or at least the M25 area. (Thus an exception could be Waterloo - Shepperton). Then since they are not easily identifiable as are the underground lines I would designate each with a number - as are the S-Bahn services on German railways. Therefore, O1, O2, O3 etc.with the possible extensions of letters to explain branches such as O1A,O1B,O1C,O1D to indicate the branches to e.g. New Cross, West Croydon, Crystal Palace, Clapham Junction. Is it not possible to sit down and think properly and sensibly what London Overground is going to be?

Nonsuchmike   06/07/2015 at 15:28

More to the point - why is the northern (underground) line extension only going as far as the super expensive new homes development @ Battersea Power Station? How many of the chinese and other non-nationals will be travelling into town on the tube rather than in their own Limos? Or perhaps it is purely for the Dogs' Home employees' benefit!!! Another Boris triumph to rival the Barclays Bikes and the super cycle lanes which are the new killing fields in London. By all means colour code these lines or re-designate them with a number, but for goodness' sake link them up with the new northern underground @ Clapham Junction.

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