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28 February 2011 | News, Transport | By: Dean Nicholas

In Pictures: The East London Line Extension To Highbury & Islington

The final stage of the East London Line extension (phase one) opened this morning, when the link between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington via Canonbury opened to the public.

Never one to knowingly miss a media opportunity (particularly over an issue — public transport — that will be fiercely fought for in next year's Mayoral election), Boris Johnson nipped up the road from his Angel home to metaphorically break a champagne bottle against the side of the first train to pull out of Highbury & Islington. While there, he made a couple of curious boasts. Firstly, that the extension has opened three months ahead of schedule, which is correct in one sense (they were working to a 'May 2011' timetable last year), though the project has had a long gestation; it was proposed on more than one occasion in the 1980s and '90s, and once given the all-clear, it was originally meant to be complete by the mid-2000s.

Secondly, Boris described London Overground as "a rail version of the M25". Leaving aside that  a comparison with the M25, long regarded as Britain's biggest car park, is perhaps not an appropriate one, we're still a couple of years from getting a proper orbital railway. Phase 2 of the project will see a link between Surrey Quays station and Clapham Junction, using mainly existing rail infrastructure. This should be completed in 2013.

The new link (which we took a walk through late last year) will run trains every seven or eight minutes between Dalston and Highbury, with a slightly higher frequency between the core section of New Cross and Dalston. All trains will terminate at Highbury; if you want to continue westwards, you'll have to change trains there to an adjacent platform (though depending on which platform you arrive in, it may involve a trip on the stairs). The connection with both the Victoria line and First Capital Connect at Highbury & Islington should also help alleviate the strain on those services.

Perhaps most importantly, the opening also means that the second part of our East London line pub crawl can be completed... but more on that in a couple of days time.

Dean Nicholas

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Jimmy

You can change at any station between New Cross Gate to Crystal Palace for trains to Clapham Junction (and Victoria), so we do now have an orbital railway, even if it not all run by London Overground. You have to get on and off a few times to go all the way round, but that will still be true after 2012.

S. M. Secchi

whats the point in opening a zillion lines and branches if in the end none of them is working properly?

BMWGuggenheimLab

Now if the Overground just ran on Sundays which is the only day I ever want to use it...

Barrymilton

How long does it actually take to get from the ELL platforms to the Victoria line platforms? Last time I went from the NLL it took ages walking up hill and down dale down into the underground. New train lines seldom come with access improvements. Is this one different?

What's in Wapping

Great news for Wapping residents, visitors and local businesses.
Of course there have been some teething problems with the new line but it's reconnected us with the rest of London again after the line closure and this helps even more.

Alex

For those of us who live next to Canonbury station this is great news, 3 mins to H&I to connect to the tube, 12 mins to Shoreditch High Street and, miracle of miracles, a train service that actually runs on Sundays

Chris

To be fair, the NorthLondon Line closures are very nearly at an end - just some signalling to comission and Bob Kiley's your uncle - major frequency increase on the North London Line (including weekends!) Anyone who's been down Clapham way will see the second track of the Latchmere Curve re-doubling underway as well - 4 trains per hour along the WLL through Shepherd's Bush isnt far away either.

Al

Al...

Great service. Use it everyday from home Rotherhithe to work Liverpool St/Shoreditch... Very happy customer!!!