A Decade of Service

Written by: TrainSim-James

On November 11th, 2007, Transport for London fully took over various worn down commuter routes within the Capital, aiming to re-vitalise key areas and provide a rail orbital network with links both in and surrounding the city. 10 years later, and the state of London’s railways have improved dramatically, transforming routes into clean, efficient, and safe environments for the millions of passengers that use them every year.

To celebrate London Overground’s decade of service, we will showcase the history behind the operator and the railways they traverse, and of course, enjoy the various London Overground routes & traction within Train Simulator!

Prior to the transition between a publicly and privately operated railway network in Britain, a period of sectorisation was set upon the country. Service types would denote the differences between each sector, meaning any express services between major cities became ‘Inter-City’, and most other passenger trains under ‘Regional Railways’.

London, and the surrounding South East of England had evolved into a myriad of commuter and mainline routes connecting border towns and coastlines to the Capital, and beyond that, linked key sections of the London area together. It was decided to incorporate all of these lines into a single ‘London & South East’ (later rebranded to Network SouthEast) sector, serving up to 930 stations across 2350 route miles.

The Gospel Oak to Barking line as a shadow of its future self, seen here in the Network SouthEast era operated by a pair of ageing and unreliable ‘Bubble Cars’. (The ‘backdated’ North London Line is a fantastic freeware project you can visit by clicking here).

And in the heart of the vast NSE network were the various connecting and suburban lines that were strung throughout London, all built to varying specifications, by different companies, during the Victorian period. It was safe to say that not all the lines were capable of coping with the growing passenger numbers, and some had already been left in a poor state by the pre-sectored British Rail.

While major railway lines got new traction, be that the Networkers which revitalised the Chiltern, Great Western and North Kent Lines, the Class 319s for Thameslink, and the sleek Class 442s for the South West, the dwindling lines in North London were given hand-me-down traction for the most part.

A spiralling descent of disrepair seemed the fate of many lines, and even when privatisation was complete, the situation wasn’t set to improve. Lines in North London were operated by Silverlink, while South London had become part of the Southern suburban network. The East London Line was operated by London Underground, and if re-purposed, could be given a new lease of life.

A plan was soon put in place to unify the inner London lines, converting the existing network into an orbital railway managed by Transport for London; and on this day, 11th November 2007, London Overground assumed control of the North & West London, Gospel Oak to Barking (GOBLIN) and Watford DC Lines.

“London’s New Train Set” was to receive major improvements to all aspects; new, longer trains, staffed stations at all hours, a network-wide deep clean of each station, accessibility improvements, a more frequent service, and more – a new era for London transportation without a doubt. Atop the improvements to the initial ‘take-over’ lines, the East London Line would be closed and converted for Overground use, and a chord would be built linking to the South London Line, reaching Clapham Junction and completing the loop.

The endeavour certainly proved a success, the North London Line today sees a 4-trains-per-hour service, with each of those trains 5 cars long, fully open plan and high capacity. The Gospel Oak to Barking Line has seen the largest improvements, and will soon be ready to accept a brand new fleet of 4-car EMUs in 2018, once electrification is complete. South of the Thames, London Overground plays a key role in linking Britain’s Busiest Station with the rest of the Capital. In all, with the addition of the West Anglia Lines becoming part of the network in 2015, over a billion journeys have been made with London Overground, and it is today the third largest operator in the UK.

With 10 positive years behind them, London Overground still look to the future with the hope of assuming control of even more suburban networks in the London area, bringing the same level of improvements to vital routes into surrounding boroughs. After the GOBLIN electrification, and introduction of the new EMU fleet, the next big change will be an extension to Barking Riverside, giving 10800 new homes a city link by 2021.

Celebrate London Overground’s decade of service this weekend by driving our popular key Capital routes in Train Simulator!

The South London Network, combined with the Class 378, brings London Overground to life between Clapham Junction, New Cross, West Croydon, Crystal Palace and Surry Quays.

The stations on the North London line has seen major accessibility improvements since the London Overground takeover, with their modern appearance reflecting a railway network of a proper 21st Century London railway network.

There are two main sub-classes of Class 378 ‘Electrostar’ (also known as the Capitalstar). The 378/1 is fitted with third-rail only and is used on the South and East London Lines, based at New Cross Gate Depot (above), while the 378/2s operate out of Willesden Depot on the North & west London and Watford DC Lines (below). In all, there are 57 Class 378 EMUs in service.

When London Overground first took over from the Silverlink Metro, they temporarily operated 3-car Class 313s (top) until the first brand new Class 378/0s arrived (above). As station platforms were extended and a further need for capacity grew, a fourth car was added to the 378/0s and they were reclassified to the 378/2 (below); a fifth carriage was added to the entire Class 378 fleet in due course (bottom).

The core of the North London Line sees trains every 15 mins, with every other westbound service alternating between Richmond and Clapham Junction (the West London Line). While most of the line is electrified, many lines south of the Thames are equipped with a third rail, and so services must switch power modes at Acton Town on the North London Line (above) and in-between Willesden Junction and Shepherd’s Bush on the West London Line (below).

Again, when London Overground assumed control in 2007, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, known also as the GOBLIN, was operated by Class 150/1s in the Silverlink livery (above). However they were soon replaced with diesel-drinking sister to the Electrostar, the Class 172 ‘Turbostar’ (below). When the electrification of the GOBLIN is complete, the Class 172s themselves will be replaced by the Class 710 ‘Aventra’, the next generation of the Electrostar design.

Clapham Junction is always a hive of activity with plenty of action to choose from, but on this weekend, as London Overground reaches 10 years of age, why not spend some time on Platforms 1 and 2 in Train Simulator!

We’re always happy to receive your comments below but please ensure they are related to the subject of the article, we’ll remove any that appear to be unrelated.

TrainSim-James

2 Comments

  • would have been better if you could have giving us another London Overground Route to celebrate the 10th Anniversary like the Watford DC Lines

    • i definitely agree on that one

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