Rail Industry Focus


Overground Capacity

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Feb/March 2012

Howard Smith, TfL’s chief operating officer for London Rail, and a member of the RTM editorial board, responds to concerns raised by reader Richard Pout.

Richard Pout got in touch with RTM to say: “I shall look forward to the Infrarail event to find out from Howard Smith how TfL intends to cope with the inordinate passenger growth on London Overground lines. He needs to check out these issues urgently:

“1: Electrification of Gospel Oak – Barking, and securing some appropriate rolling stock. Locally the GO-B line RUG is suggesting repatriating 8 to 10 refurbished 313s from Southern at Brighton, where their lack of loos is a bit of a problem. It also saves a bit of money, as then only one station platform needs rebuilding, at South Tottenham. Start negotiations with DfT now for Southern to have a few more 377s! And push DfT to contribute to this project for the freight benefits.

“2: Set out a three- to four-year strategy to start in 2013 to further develop the Overground network, firstly the North London Lines group by the end of 2012, and then the East London Line to start in 2014, to be completed by December 2015. The ELL is more complex than the NLL due to the limitations of three sub-surface stations, none insoluble, but costly at Canada Water.

“3: TfL can concentrate limited funds on the crucial station works on the North London Line to accommodate five-car trains. There is limited scope for increasing service frequencies on the NLL because of freight paths, and so this requires careful management.

“4: Work out a delivery schedule for 30 x 5th cars for the 378/2 dual voltage units, needed for the NLL, to boost capacity from late 2013 – not a minute too soon – completing this conversion at one unit per week / ten days.

“5: Recover up to 10 three-car 313 sets, now fully refurbished by Southern and with more than adequate capacity for the 15-minute service on the GO-B line, which with another tweaking to the signalling and completing longoverdue bridge works should also increase freight capacity on this line, carefully feeding this traffic into the shared 4.5 miles on the NLL to Willesden, where an additional freight loop is to be provided in the longer term.

“This is an urgent package that TfL must work out before LOROL’s concession is extended or re-tendered. It is essential as the suppressed ‘latent’ demand from passengers avoiding the inadequate Silverlink services has not just emerged with the new NLL Overground services, but crawled out of the woodwork! This network has been a crucial issue locally and has taxed my expertise for more than a decade.

“The step change so far is very worthwhile; a bit more and TfL will have a project and network to be really proud of. Messrs Hendy, Brown, and Smith, please note and set to it! This is easy stuff compared with Crossrail. This work is essential, we need to get it programmed.”

Smith responded: “We have indeed made major improvements to the London Overground network resulting in increases in both PPM and Customer Satisfaction and NPS scores. In response, demand on the London Overground network has increased substantially since its introduction, with passenger numbers almost trebling since 2007. To date this growth has been accommodated by the introduction of the four-car Class 378s operating at an improved frequency and a four trains an hour service on the Gospel Oak to Barking line. In December we introduced an additional ‘PIXC–buster’ service between Woodgrange Park and Upper Holloway (on the Gospel Oak-Barking Line) and on the East London Line, two additional weekday morning peak services operate between Surrey Quays and Dalston Junction.

“In December 2012 we will complete the orbital network with the completion of the link to Clapham Junction from Surrey Quays; this will provide a 4 tph service over the new section of line as well as increasing the East London Line ‘core’ to 16tph. Looking further forward, we have identified, and published, our mediumterm (2014-2019) aspirations for increasing the capacity of the Overground network through a combination of longer and more frequent trains. This includes lengthening the North, West and East London Lines to a 5-car railway, introducing additional services on the East and West London lines and – ultimately – electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking line to allow 4-car electric rolling stock to be introduced. Electrification of the ‘GOB’ is however, likely to be the last of these improvements to be delivered, possibly not until 2019, so we are developing plans for lengthening current diesel services.

“Our plans fit well with those of NR and industry partners and have received widespread support. We look forward to continue to build on the success of the Overground and extending it further in years to come.”

(Image: Transport for London)

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Charlie   08/04/2016 at 18:43

Why don't LO install Brecknell Willis pantographs on the class 313s if they are to be reinstated on the north London Line. This will be much more efficient than the original Stone Faiverely AMBR pantographs. I think that southern should consider using the 313s that they already got and reinstall the pantographs and operate them to Watford junction Cast your opinions on this !

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

View all News

rail industry focus

View all News

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the TOC, gives RTM an update on the innovative scheme. Recognising that young people are more likely to take a risk trespassing on railway tracks, C... more > more last word articles >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio ... more >

'the sleepers' daily blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s network of independent repair facilities across the UK and further afield in its global network. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >
Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

02/07/2019Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

Smart electrification is the way to boost clean energy resources, argues Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action. Contractors are clear... more >
Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

02/07/2019Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

The TCR Midlands conference is only days away and tickets are going fast for the sector event of the year at the Vox Conference Centre in Birming... more >