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.
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.
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.