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TfL tries to reduce line-closure time for GOBLIN electrification

Network Rail and Transport for London have confirmed that the coming months will see “extensive disruption” on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line as a vast amount of structures, track and OLE work is done to electrify the line and lengthen platforms.

From early June to late September 2016, the line will be part-closed, with trains running between Gospel Oak and South Tottenham on weekdays, but none from South Tottenham onto Barking, and no services at all on weekends.

The 14-mile line will be completely closed from October 2016 to early February 2017, with rail replacement buses operating instead. Once the line reopens, there will be further evening and weekend works until late June 2017, then four months of commissioning works before the wires go live.

Mike Stubbs, TfL’s director of London Overground, said: “We recognise that eight months is an extensive disruption for our customers, but this is minimised for the first four months by being a partial closure during the week, followed then by a full line closure. We continue to work with Network Rail to see if the timescales they set out can be reduced.”

It is understood that negotiations over the disruption are what has delayed the official announcement about the works.

The Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group says the overcrowding on the line is “intolerable” and the additional capacity cannot come soon enough.

The works, funded by TfL and the DfT and costing more than £130m, will allow the introduction of eight four-car electric trains from early 2018, replacing two-car diesels. Last summer, Bombardier won the contract to supply a version of its Aventra train for the line, as well as on West Anglia routes.

Bombardier Aventra

Four sections of track have to be lowered and four bridges rebuilt, with less extensive work required to a further six bridges. Network Rail has already started work on the foundations for the OLE gantries, working with contractor J Murphy & Sons, which won a £56.9m contract last autumn. Half of this amount will be passed onto subcontractors, it was said then.

Network Rail’s route managing director, Richard Schofield, said: “This is a vital project to keep pace with continued growing demand for rail. This investment will transform the service on this route, doubling capacity with cleaner, quieter electric trains and is a key element of the Railway Upgrade Plan.”

The works will also enable the extension to Barking Riverside.

Rail minister Claire Perry MP said: “In the short term there will be disruption, but Network Rail and TfL are doing all they can to keep passengers informed and ensure any inconvenience is kept to a minimum.”

Network Rail has released this video explaining more about the project:


Andrew Gwilt   02/02/2016 at 10:05

So in fact the Gospel Oak-Barking electrification is likely to be completed in late December or in January 2017 with the new Class 710 trains to be used on the line once new overhead wires have been installed along with new signalling and platforms to be completely refurbished and lengthened for the 4-car Class 710 trains to be able to stop at those stations on the GOBLIN route.

Dazz285   02/02/2016 at 12:37

No as the class 710's will not be available until early 2018.

RTM   02/02/2016 at 12:53

Exactly, phased introduction throughout most of 2018 was the last we heard.

Tom   02/02/2016 at 13:42

Why not avoid the huge P-Way costs with regards to rebuilding bridges etc by buying into the IPEMU?

Melvyn   02/02/2016 at 23:24

One option once electrification is completed might be to obtain some spare EMUs in order to at least improve capacity in rush hours . Maybe the train used on Romford to Upminster line could be used with a goblin DEMU used on Rominster line ?

James Miller   03/02/2016 at 08:24

Bombardier have told me that all Aventras will have the wiring to add batteries or KERS.For trains, they could always use some 387s until the Aventras are built. This project has been designed by a team with no vision. The only saving grace, is that if they get ahead of schedule it doesn't matter. One of the problems is the Upper Holloway Bridge, that wasn't scheduled to be completed until the end of 2017. But one of the engineers told me, that they have changed approach and it will be completed earlier. My business was supporting project managers on big projects and this project stinks.

Scottie   03/02/2016 at 14:42

This electrification scheme and subsequent capacity enhancement is most welcome. However this is a vital link from North to East London that has no viable alternative for customers. Why was this inevitable line closure not considered into two segment contracts to lessen the impact on customers ? Contract One Gospel Oak to Blackhorse Road. Contract Two, Barking to Blackhorse Road. As Blackhorse Road has an interchange with LU Victoria Line surely this would have been a better option for Customers. After all two partial line closure with a link to the LU Victoria line must be better than a total line closure and complete bus replacement journeys !

James Miller   03/02/2016 at 16:55

One of the problems is that the only crossover is at South Tottenham, so you can't do a shuttle to Blackhorse Road. South Tottenham will also have lifts before the closure. Also as Lea Bridge will have opened, why not run a shuttle from Stratford to South Tottenham stopping at Lea Bridge? They should have rebuilt the Hall Farm Curve before closing the GOBlin. Where is the Palace Gates Line of my youth?

Andrew G   07/02/2016 at 15:45

So the Class 710's will not be in service until early 2018. The Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt and Romford-Upminster lines all operated by TfL London Overground are to get new 39 Class 710 trains from mid/late 2017 with the Gospel Oak-Barking line to get 8 Class 710 trains from late 2017 or early 2018.

Keith W   10/04/2016 at 12:05

I still think this whole electrification project is for the benefit of freight trains. Passengers should've been given 4 car trains a long time ago. The 2 car bendy rail buses that are currently used are not fit for purpose and should never have been introduced in an urban rail service. I have little faith in LOL to get this service running satisfactorily.

Nick Wadham-Smith   23/05/2016 at 06:56

Has this Aventra design incorporated dedicated space for non-folding cycles? Is there some evidence that bikes are being designed out of UK the rail experience (cf continental stock and even, older UK guards carriages)?

Robin   29/05/2016 at 09:47

The two-car units currently serving this line are excellent and describing them as "not fit for purpose" is eccentric. Certainly for some time there has been a case for lengthening the units to three or four cars. The platforms at most stations on the line are already long enough, although in need of refurbishment.

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