A number of upgrades for the London Overground’s East London line are to be pushed ahead to take advantage of government funding.

Following an agreement last August, TfL is due to receive £80.84 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which supports transport upgrades that can help unlock stalled housing developments.

A separate agreement secured an additional £10 million from a housing developer.

In this case, it’s expected that upgrades to some of the East London line stations and a more frequent train service will help unlock around 14,000 new homes, which might not otherwise be built as planning approvals have to take transport options into account.

Poor transport services means fewer houses can be built.

The bulk of the new housing will be at the British Land development near Canada Water and Surrey Quays, the New Bermondsey development by Surrey Canal Road, and the Convoys Wharf development.

All of them are close to the London Overground line.

Although the housing developments may be delayed by the Covid outbreak and the impact that has on construction, TfL has decided to push ahead with its projects as the main tranch of cash, from the HIF has to be spent by Apil 2024, otherwise it lapses.

The station upgrades

Surrey Quays station is squashed into a narrow strip on the south side of the main road, whereas the new developments are all on the north side. A new entrance costing around £28 million will be constructed on the north side, with step-free access for the first time at this station.

That comprised of a new ticket hall, footbridge, two lifts and extending the platforms to the new entrance. Earlier intentions to widen the existing stairs at the station has been removed from the plans to cut costs, the intention being that the new entrance will provide enough capacity.

This is likely to be the first of the upgrades to be delivered as it’s more urgently required.

At nearby Canada Water station, improvements to the bus station are planned.

A new station at Surrey Canal Road

The plans will also see a new station built a Surrey Canal Road – to be called New Bermondsey, where passive provision was added when the East London line was extended but left empty due to the lack of demand at the time.

With the new housing development arriving, there is now sufficient demand, and funding for the station to be built.

The £21.2 million station will see a new ticket hall, lifts and 5-car platforms constructed alongside the tracks.

New Bermondsey development concept

More trains

There will also be infrastructure upgrades to enable a future higher frequency train service on the ELL between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays (the ELL Core) of up to 20 trains per hour – compared to 16 trains per hour at the moment.

At the moment, the economic case for increasing the number of trains on this stretch of line is poor, but the additional line capacity is described as being vital for the operation of Surrey Canal Road and Surrey Quays stations which would otherwise not cope with the increased population living nearby.

A £39 million project will see new stabling for the extra trains, as well as the necessary infrastructure, such as increased power supplied and signalling systems.

London Overground should have sufficient trains to cover the increased service, although TfL notes there’s a risk that they might need to buy one additional train to maintain service reliability. The funding for that is not currently included in the plans.

The plans currently expect that would see two more trains per hour to Crystal Palace (from 4 to 6tph) and also two more per hour to Clapham Junction (also from 4 to 6 tph).

There is also a risk that the additional trains cannot run all the way to Clapham Junction due to lack of capacity at that end of the line, so the upgrade could see Battersea Park Station used as an additional terminus for the line.

Although London Overground trains already call at Battersea Park station at the start and end of the day to maintain a parliamentary service, it’s not part of the official line, and only shows on the line maps as a limited service.

It’s possible that the increased train frequency could see Battersea Park station brought into use sufficiently often that it has to be added to the maps as an official London Overground station. That would also put the London Overground about 5 minutes walk from the new Northern line extension station at Battersea Power Station.

So while the plans are for the London Overground to acquire a new station at New Bermondsey, it could also gain a second at Battersea.

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12 comments on “Pushing ahead with the London Overground upgrade
  1. James Miller says:

    I’m fairly sure that Battersea Park station is on one of the lists to go step-free.

    Although, it could be have been temporarily filed in the tray marked Too Difficult!

    It’s certainly rather a nice station, but the access is difficult!

  2. Amalgamated Man says:

    Forgive me for asking an ignorant question – are trains on the ELL limited to five carriages? Otherwise it would seem a trifle short sighted for the new platforms at New Bermondsey to be just 5 cars long.

    • ianvisits says:

      The platforms at a number of the other stations are limited to 5 carriages and it would be exceptionally difficult to extend them.

    • David Winter says:

      The platforms at some ELL stations are SHORTER than the trains, so SDO (Selective Door Opening) needs to be used. So 5 car trains are pushing the emvelope. Hence 5 car platform length is more than adequate until a £b’s line upgrade is funded.

    • Roger Iain Mason says:

      If I remember rightly from my days of Surrey Docks (Remember that name?) the A Stock that was used was limited to a four car set whether they would have accommodated more I know not. Although I wouldnt have thought a single A Stock car would equate in any way to main line stock in terms of length.

  3. Iain Johncock says:

    While extra trains on the Clapham Junction branch are welcome, instead of terminating at Battersea Park why not take them into Victoria? That would also enable a 4tph service to Victoria from Peckham Rye etc instead of 2 at present. Overground already uses Euston and Liverpool Street main line terminals so why not Victoria too.

    • Nicholas Lewis says:

      The connection was severed at Battersea Pk some years ago when the slow line platforms were extended for 10 cars. Could access Victoria Eastern via Stewarts Lane but serving Battersea Pk seems an eminently sensible idea to me.

  4. Adrian Betham says:

    The south-west end of the East London Line will be provided with better connection into Victoria but all the more pity the Northern Line extension is to be stopped 500 metres short of the connection at Battersea Park.
    The northern end of the East London Line could also benefit by using the existing track and track bed to Finsbury Park with additional connection to Thameslink and the Piccadilly Line.

  5. John R says:

    Another probably silly question. Could the additional services unable to call at Clapham Jn continue directly onto the WLL? That would reduce journey times for through journeys and make them more attractive than having to change at Clapham.

    • Nick L says:

      They wouldn’t get much further than Shepherd’s Bush without having to turn round unless they use dual-voltage trains. The WLL switches from third rail to overhead line electrification at North Pole junction. This would probably be expensive and the turnbacks would reduce capacity for WLL Overground and Southern trains.

  6. Paul says:

    I would say 6tph turnaround in the single platform at Clapham Junction is possible, particularly if Battersea Park is held as a reserve for times of disruption. The adjacent WLL platform has been managing 5tph recently.

    There is huge incentive to get the trains to Clapham J if possible as that’s where the demand for travel is – and 2tph to Battersea Park would be a poor service for such an inner urban location. It needs to be 4pth to be turn-up-and-go otherwise ridership will be poor.

  7. Craig Thomson says:

    It would be good if the station upgrades could include improving the entrance / exit at Canonbury Station. The existing structure cannot cope with the increased usage of the station (which now serves both the North London and East London lines with 4 platforms). The space is there to build a larger entrance / exit, and the existing breeze block public lavatory lookalike station building cannot be listed as it has no architectural value whatsoever.

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