This spring, the route formerly known as the East London line will make a bold return, now co-opted into the orange livery of London Overground, and extending past its original, curtailed route to the giddy northern heights of Dalston and the southern climes of Croydon. On Tuesday, we took a tour of the line to find out what’s new.
After a tour of the New Cross depot and the new control room — a gleaming modern building whose patient staff were tolerant enough to ignore our journalistic probing — we boarded one of the sleek new trains. The route runs the same 378 models recently introduced to the North London line, albeit in four-car configuration rather than three-car, and there’s a distinct sense of vertigo to be had looking the length of the walk-through carriages as the vehicle is in motion. Our box-fresh train headed northwards, passing through the Thames tunnel, before we stopped for a tour of Shadwell station.
Aside from the new orange-trimmed roundels, regulars on the old East London line will see little difference at platform level: but at street level Shadwell is entirely transformed, with an additional exit on the north side of the ticket office meaning access to the nearby DLR station is much easier (welcome news to anybody who recalls the miserable side street that had to be navigated in the past).
Our tour then moved on to Shoreditch High Street, a colossal grey battleship of a station parked on the old Bishopsgate Goods Yard. The platform is long enough to accommodate up to eight carriages (not that a train of such length is ever likely to pull in), and the spacious ticket hall reflects the expectation that — with an optimum location and excellent access to Spitalfields, Shoreditch, Old Street, and the City — this will be one of the more popular stations on the network. The final part of the trip whisked us along the viaduct toward Dalston Junction and back, offering new vistas of Kingsland Road and affording the more eagle-eyed trainspotter among us a glimpse of the original Old Street station.
TfL expect around 100,000 people to use the service daily once it is fully operational, and in offering a link between parts of the capital that have long been ill-served by transport connections, the line should be a success. It does, however, pose a significant hazard to pub quiz-masters and Underground trivia hounds: should London Overground be counted as a proper Tube line or not?
The section between New Cross Gate and Dalston Junction is currently scheduled to open in April *, and the full service is due to welcome passengers on May 23rd.
Many thanks to everybody at TfL, LOROL, and London Overground, for arranging the tour
* Correction: The date originally given in this post, April 12th, is inaccurate.