Published: 4th May 2016
On what was once London’s Cinderella Line and threatened with closure, Network Rail (NR) will indeed now be closing the line this year but for a major upgrade that will double the Gospel Oak to Barking route capacity.
The line will be electrified and in two years, new Class 710 Bombardier built four-car electric trains will be operating able to carry twice as many people as today’s trains. But the upgrade comes at a cost to users in the form of some disruption while the work is carried out.
The line will be subject to an eight month closure from June to February 2017 and this is the first real investment in 35 years on the line. The 14 mile route runs through six London boroughs whose residents and passengers will ultimately benefit from a reduction in CO2 emissions from the railway.
The line will need bridges altering and track relaying to accommodate electrification and its associated structures with four sections of track lowered, four bridges replaced and another six modernised. Platforms will also be extended to be able to accept the new four carriage trains. Wherever possible, redundant materials will be re-used such as recycled oil and gas pipes being used as steel piles and over 90 per cent of materials will be delivered by rail.
Weekend working has been underway for six months and preparatory work to install 550 piles is well under way. An estimated one million hours of construction are needed to complete the project so it was decided to concentrate the work into the shortest period which is why the closure is about to start.
Starting in June and carrying on to September 2016, there will be no weekday trains between South Tottenham and Barking and none between Gospel Oak and Barking on weekends. From September 2016 until February 2017, there will be no trains between Gospel Oak and Barking. It is anticipated that the new electric trains will operate from early 2018 bringing the capacity increase.
Saturday 4 June - Friday 23 September 2016
Weekdays : South Tottenham to Barking closed; Gospel Oak - South Tottenham runs normally
Weekends : Full Gospel Oak - Barking closure
Saturday 24 September 2016 - February 2017
All week : Full Gospel Oak - Barking closure
February 2017 - June 2017
Evening and weekend closures likely
Rail replacement buses will be operating every ten minutes in the week and every20 minutes at weekends.
Richard Schofield, Network Rail’s route managing director 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.
Customers along the line will reap the benefits when work to electrify the route is complete. It will allow for new longer walk-through trains to operate from January 2018, which will double capacity to meet growing demand on the route. It will also enable a new rail extension to Barking Riverside, which will support up to 11,000 new homes.
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.
Mike Stubbs, TfL's director of London Overground added: We are investing record amounts in transforming our rail network, and when this major work completes, passengers will benefit from better journeys on less congested, cleaner and quieter trains.
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. I’d like to thank passengers and residents for their patience, and I am looking forward to seeing these improvements delivered.
The outgoing London Mayor, Boris Johnson has approved an extension to the Gospel Oak to Barking line to Barking Riverside. The 4km extension will serve a new housing development of 10,800 house and cost an estimated £263 million. Transport for London will be applying for Transport & Works Act powers and work could commence next year and take three years to complete.