Published: 13th July 2015
Transport for London (TfL) have announced the shortlisted bidders for the next London Overground rail franchise which includes more new trains allowing a more intensive service to serve upgraded stations. It has been generally acknowledged that the TfL London Overground rail network has transformed services around London with new routes and trains since they took responsibility for the system in 2007.
The current franchise ends in November 2016 and is currently operated by LOROL (London Overground Rail Operations Ltd) which is a partnership between German Railways owned Arriva and the Hong Kong based MTR Corporation. London Overground trains carries 176 million passengers annually, or around 585,000 a day and the numbers are growing.
The four shortlisted companies are:
Arriva Rail London Limited
LoKeGo Limited (a joint venture between Keolis (UK) Limited and Go-Ahead Holding Limited)
Metroline Rail Limited
The North London line, threatened with closure 30 years ago, will have its trains running every six minutes, an increase of 25%. The order for 45 new fleet of Bombardier air-conditioned walk-through trains has just been signed and after the mandatory contract standstill, the order will become binding by the end of July 2015.
The currently used 30 year old Class 315 and Class 317 trains on the Overground’s new routes will be deep cleaned and overhauled to keep the service running until the 31 new trains are in service. Eight new four-carriage trains will be used on the Gospel Oak and Barking route and the remaining six new trains will be used to bolster services on other Overground routes.
The new London Overground routes will get the new trains from 2018 and will run between Liverpool Street and Enfield Town, Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) and Chingford plus the soon to be electrified Barking and Gospel Oak route and Romford and Upminster. The transfer from Abellio brought 24 stations to the TfL network and will be staffed at all times and will be subject to an extensive programme of cleaning and other improvements to meet TfL station standards to them.
Mike Brown MVO, Managing Director 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.”
Mr Brown added: “These 45 new trains will significantly improve the comfort, reliability and overall quality of train services for our customers. Some of the trains we have inherited along the West Anglia route are over 30 years old and have not been in use for some time. We're now working hard to overhaul these trains to make them more reliable until the new trains come into service from 2018.”
“Ordering new trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking line and West Anglia route together, as well as including a provision to order more trains should passenger demand warrant additional capacity, ensures that we get best value for money for our customers.”
The contract also gives TfL options for more trains to meet future demand and provide potential frequency improvements. The contract between TfL and Bombardier also covers the maintenance of the new fleet
TfL hope to issue all the new franchise tender documentation by the end of July with bids anticipated back by October. The bids will cover an initial period of 7 ½ years with a two year extension option to be exercised at TfL's discretion.
TfL will continue to set fare levels and arrange marketing of the rail network retaining the ticket revenue which will continue to be reinvested in improving the transport network boosted by station advertising, retail and car park revenues. The new rail operator will be responsible for selling tickets and revenue protection duties.
The Gospel Oak to Barking route, part of London Overground, is being electrified by Network Rail and due to be completed in 2017. The new four carriage electric trains will run on the route after electrification has been completed, replacing all of the two-carriage diesel Class 172 trains.
Whoever wins the franchise operation will play a vital role in continuing the current success while introducing further improvements. The current operator is working to improve services every day especially on the new routes just taken over, as these services lag behind LOROL’s network standards seen elsewhere on their operation.
The shortlisted bidders will be looking at how they might introduce all night services on weekends from 2017 and the operation of services on the proposed extension of the Overground to Barking Riverside.
The new franchise operators will have a hard job to improve today’s operation as it has a customer satisfaction rate of 91% and a 95% punctuality record, both scoring well against other UK rail operations.