With able assistance from a jazz band and a troupe of Bollywood dancers, Boris Johnson arrived at Dalston Junction station this morning to officially open the East London line.
Arriving on a train into the station, Boris mugged and gurned for the cameras in his typical fashion, then made a short speech in which he proclaimed the line, which links Croydon in the south with Dalston and (from 2011) Highbury & Islington, as a "great leap forward for London". Boris was justly proud of the line opening "on time and on budget", though he protested just a little too much about the apolitical nature of this event; a reference to the insinuation that he had aimed to use the launch as a prop during the run up to next week's election.
The only people scoring political points were a cabal of Ken Livingstone acolytes grouped outside on Dalston Lane, clutching banners that hailed the East London line as a project completed through Labour investment. It's a fair point, and Boris' performance for the cameras conceals the fact that London Overground is a project that Ken pushed through; but it doesn't help the former Mayor's cause to have his minions carping and moaning from the sidelines.
The first official train on the line runs today at 12:06 from Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate. From then on it will be open from 7am - 8pm, Monday to Friday, until May 23rd (or possibly before), at which point it will run in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends. The extension down to Croydon will also open on that date.