Transport for London (TfL) says that it is bringing forward the launch of London Overground services on the extension to Barking Riverside, following good progress being made in the completion of the station commissioning and testing stages.
Construction work on the 4.5km extension from Barking station to the new riverside station had been due to open in December 2021 at a cost of £260 million. However, delays caused by unexpected engineering problems and pandemic mitigations works, mainly relating to securing rescheduled Network Rail possessions and coronavirus control measures pushed the expected opening date to autumn 2022 and the cost up to £327 million.
TfL now says that it’s bringing forward the opening date from this autumn to this summer — the exact date is not confirmed yet. At the moment, while works continue on completing the station, test trains are running along the line during the week.
In addition to the 4.5km railway line, the extension also required the reconfiguration of Network Rail’s Ripple Lane goods yard to allow the extension to connect to the Tilbury Loop. It also required the construction of a viaduct over the Ripple Lane yard and the Tilbury Loop railway, with foundations squeezed in between the HS1 tunnels.
The 4.5km extension, which extends the Gospel Oak to Barking London Overground route to a new step-free station at the heart of Barking Riverside, will cut journey times from Barking to Barking Riverside, which currently takes around 25 minutes by bus. Operating four trains per hour, it will take seven minutes to travel from Barking Riverside to Barking with interchanges to both the District and Hammersmith & City lines into central London and c2c services.
When operational, London Overground services would no longer terminate at platform 1 at Barking station but would be diverted to run through platforms 7 and 8 which are currently used by c2c and freight services.
Opening the station will also trigger the construction of more housing around it. The planning permission for the Barking Riverside housing development limits it to 4,000 occupied homes until the railway opens, when the remaining 6,800 homes can be built and sold. The housing development is 49% owned by the GLA — with 51% owned by L&Q.
When it opens, a four-carriage London Overground service running at 15-minute intervals is planned from the Barking Riverside station, with provision for an additional station, provisionally known as Castle Green to be built later when another housing development for 11,000 homes opens to the north of Barking Riverside.