For more transport chat, join our popular Facebook group, Londonist Roundel Ramblings.
Regular Overground passengers on the Gospel Oak to Barking line (or the Goblin) have been through plenty of pain.
The past two years have seen replacement bus after replacement bus, instead of normal service. This was first due to delays to the electrification of the line. Once those were sorted, the line quite incredibly ran out of trains, as the new Class 710s were delayed due to 'software problems'.
TfL is well aware of these passengers' suffering and wants to make it up to them. Now, all the new trains are in place and the line is running a complete service of four trains-per-hour on electric trains, with doubled capacity from the old diesel trains, it's ready to roll out the apology. There will be a month of free travel for everyone on the line — a first for TfL. This is to be funded by manufacturer Bombardier, which delivered the trains 16(!) months late.
The promotion runs from 31 August to 1 October inclusive. That's a bit more than a full 30 days, taking into account a full closure of the line on the weekend of 28-29 September for engineering works. To take advantage of the free travel all you need to do is tap in with either contactless or an Oyster Card. You will be charged as normal, but then you'll receive a refund the following day.
If you have an Oyster Travelcard that's valid for longer than a month, you will need to make sure your Oyster card is linked to an online account to get the refund. And if you're properly old school, and still use paper tickets, you'll need to keep them (or the receipts) as proof of travel, and then submit a refund claim to TfL Customer Services.
That's not the end of the excitement about the air-conditioned, free wifi boasting Class 710s — they will soon be rolling out to other parts of the network. Up first is the Watford to Euston line, which will be increasing from its current three trains-per-hour to four.
After those trains are in place, the final batch is heading east to the Overground lines running out of Liverpool Street, to Cheshunt, Enfield and Chingford. Alas, none of these other sections of the Overground will be given the free travel offer — TfL is very keen to stress that this offer is only valid for the Gospel Oak to Barking line.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said:
I'm delighted that the new electric trains are now fully in operation on the Gospel Oak to Barking line — doubling capacity for passengers, providing free WiFi and improving air quality for everyone. The month's free travel, which was requested by the Mayor, is a well-deserved thank you to passengers for their patience, and we have made it as simple as possible for people to benefit from this offer.
Jon Fox, TfL's Director of Rail, said:
We're pleased that all of the new electric trains are now in service on the Gospel Oak to Barking line, and are delivering the greater capacity and more pleasant journeys customers have been waiting for. We know this has been a long wait for those who regularly use the line. This is why the Mayor has secured funding from the manufacturer to give Gospel Oak to Barking customers a month of free travel in September, as a thank you for their patience.