London Overground 2016

Thanks to Patrick, who has forward us a TfL Impact Study for the London Overground network. The good news is that  customer satisfaction with the service has risen in line with the soaring passenger numbers, which have grown by 160% since 2007, with half of the growth coming from the East London Line.

However, their projections for the 2016 suggest that we may be about to reach a tipping point, with overcrowding expected to get worse. This map shows the worst-affected parts of the network, with the short stretch between Surrey Quays and Canada water the most-crowded part of the East London Line.

The great squash means that measures to boost capacity become more necessary and thus, we hope, more likely, more quickly. These could include improving frequency (4 more New Cross trains could be accommodated each hour without too much fuss) and extending the length of the trains (one more carriage could be added to each train on the ELL relatively easily). They are on the drawing board already and the London mayor, who's argued passionately in recent days for a £40bn airport infrastructure investment as a means of escaping recession, could surely see the value in comparatively modest expenditure on this service.

Other points from the study worth noting:

- The network helps to reduce car journeys in the areas it serves and the greater connectivity means that people are making new journeys, which is benefits those areas' economic development. In total 12% of all journeys are by people who have switched from cars or who are making journeys they didn't before.

- Also of note is the fact that the LO has a much higher number of school children passengers, due to the fact that it provides a circular, rather than radial route across the capital.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

4 more new cross or new cross gate trains? it looks like the trains to new cross are emptyish according to this ... I wonder if they could / will run more trains through brockley

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, but more New Cross trains would mean fewer people trying to get on crowded trains (from the NXG branch) at Surrey Quays. Although why the lazy so-and-sos don't just walk the 500 yards from Surrey Quays station to Canada Water anyway, I don't know.

Also, if the trains were more frequent from NX, people who lived in New Cross might be more likely to use it in preference to NXG. If I lived midway between the two stations, I would probably try to squeeze on at NXG rather than wait 15 mins for a train at NX.

But I agree that it wouldn't make a huge difference. The extra carriage is our best bet in the short term.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Brockley is where the black bit ends (it goes past NXG) ... not good

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, I think we're where the black bit starts. Standing room only as far as Canada Water.

Anonymous said...

I wish Boris would look at improving London's transport network than trying to build another airport to flood it with more people. It's already congested enough.

Anonymous said...

I see the Brockley platforms are being extended but how will Canada Water (and other 'underground' stations) accommodate the extra carriage without major works?

Brockley Nick said...

The platforms are being extended to give us longer trains to and from London Bridge, not for the London Overground services, which are much shorter trains and can take an extra carriage without troubling Brockley Station or any other station along the ELL route.

Anonymous said...

There seems to have been a big surge in numbers on trains in general recently, and I'm not sure what's caused it. Since last month I've not been able to get a seat on my train from Catford bridge, where I was always able to for years before. I guess the dark and rainy weather might have an effect?

Lou Baker said...

The airport is a fabulous idea. A much needed investment in our national infrastructure - if it's done properly.

Which brings us to the Overground - an example of an infrastructure ''improvement" which was not done properly.

The problem with the Overground is - and always has been - that we are not really adding any new infrastructure. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely in favour of making the maximum use of existing infrastructure - and the Overground does that quite well - but there is only
so much tinkering you can do.

The platforms have been lengthened as much as they can be - the number of trains increased to the limit but .... then what?

In this country we never answer that question. And that is why our rail services are dire.

Put simply, we don't just need Thameslink and Crossrail. We need Crossrail 2, Crossrail 3 and Crossrail 4. We don't just need High Speed 2, we need High Speeds 3, 4 and 5. We need wider motorways, we need more motorways. We need better trams, little rail and more cycle hire schemes.

This stuff is expensive. It costs loads. But it is an
investment in our country's future - and investment is good spending. We should never be afraid of good spending. But we do too much bad spending. Silly amounts on benefits which keep people idle and in poverty. Crazy sums on defence which we don't need. A small fortune treating people for self-inflicted health conditions.

That's why the East London Line upgrade was done on the cheap - and why within a few years it'll be as uncomfortable as the line always used to be. Because as a nation we don't spend money properly.

BH said...

Wish I had a oar when for Surrey Quays like that evil guy from Titanic who bats people away from his lifeboat "there's no more room!!"

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - my understanding of the platform situation is that they weren't lengthened as much as they could have been (to save money) so that only one more carriage can be added to the trains. In that respect, I agree with you that regrettable penny-pinching took place.

But what we are talking about here is a service that is a victim of its own success. People love it and are using it in growing numbers. It is encouraging people to take new journeys and to leave their cars at home. It is helping to regenerate destinations along its route and cutting our journey times.

Yes, we could have taken the Chinese route and built maglev trains that no-one uses, but the British taxpayer is too price conscious. More trains, longer trains, later-running trains, more frequent off peak services - these are all incremental improvements which can be easily delivered with existing infrastructure.

The demand is clear and the case for further investment will be irresistible. That's good news.

BH said...

@Lou

Yes, a massive Kenynesian, post-war Labour style public works project to boost infrastructure and kickstart the economy.

If the is money left to build another flipping escalator at Surrey Quays then fab.

BH said...

*canada water

Anonymous said...

the platforms in the old east london line core are not long enough for an additional carriage but selective door opening should sort that ish, although it may take a while for everybody to get off at Canada Water

Anonymous said...

I think a number of ELL stations will have a problem with an extra overground carriage and it is already as bad as the Northern at peak times with some unable to get on at CW c18:30.

Increased frequency is probably the answer but there are asset costs and order lagtimes to consider.

David Crofton Park said...

Do we think that the increased frequency (rather than extended trains?!) will result in a reduced service to London Bridge from Brockley?

The option of both destinations is very appealing and incredibly useful.

MJG said...

It's becoming obvious that Canada Water was not designed as well as it first appeared. The short length of the ELL platforms means the dwell times of the trains will reduce the number of trains that can run in the peak (due to the number of people having to move through the train to get out as already mentioned), and the escalators are proving woefully inadequate. Worse, the way the station is designed means that it will be nigh on impossible to add extra escalators or even fixed stairs. Short of routing people up and through the main ticket hall I can't see what can be done there easily (unless they utilize the emergency stairs perhaps).

Lou Baker said...

@nick

The British taxpayer is indeed price conscious. But it is not COST conscious.

A £16bn rail link sounds expensive until you find it that it'll bring £30bn in economic benefits.

A £40bn airport sounds pricey. But if it benefits the economy to the tune of £60bn it's worth doing.

The East London Line is a victim of mediocrity. It could have been much better than it was.

I have been repeatedly slapped down on here for daring to question the hailed East London Line plan. Yet as you now acknowledge predictions are now that its success could start to run out of steam by 2016. A transport scheme which starts tipping 6 years after it's introduced is a flawed scheme. Thank God our Victorian forefathers were more ambitious or we'd have no way to get to to work - as we still travel on the railways they built.

NAT said...

Lou, 'The Victorian Forefathers', More ambition perhaps, more foresight; most probably.

Two little words about the (probably nessecary) new airports location. Bird Strike.

Anonymous said...

Ah Lou, yes those massive new projects would be excellent. There was and is no propect of them all happening in the next 50 years, perhaps hs2 and CR2. So your solution is to spit your dummy and not do the ELL out of some high minded principle? We can all promise the nice to haves, politicians do it all the time. Grow ups live in the real world, the money was there to do the ELL. It was done, it more than fulfils its brief. It works, it benefits the areas it goes through. Be happy.

As for "reusing" why do you have a bug up your ass about that? Reusing a route that is already owned, reusing infrastructure that has life left is simply good planning. It our money as you keep liking to remind us. Many rail routes including use old canal routes, the original and new ELL uses a Brunel foot tunel.

You've lost the argument comprehensively, the ELL was a success. The other projects would be great, how could anyone disagree? Still have to spend billions getting the existing tube upgraded, or should we just forget that?

I'd leave it to the experts if I were you.

patrick1971 said...

I think the dreaded Health & Safety, combined with a strong dose of Ken Livingstone, is responsible for the short platform situation in the East London Line core.

You could extend the Canada Water platform along to Rotherhithe to make one station (you can see the end of the Rotherhithe platforms from Canada Water), but then you'd get a curved platform: no longer allowed.

You could use selective door opening but I believe this is frowned upon by the HSE now, and was only allowed on the DLR as there is a member of staff on the train in the same part as the passengers.

Wapping station was originally going to be closed as part of the ELL extension, as was, I think, Rotherhithe, because it's impossible to extend the platforms at these two locations. But Ken stepped in to save the stations (as it was reported at the time).

So we now have what we now have.

Fattyfattybumbum said...

We have enough of those stupid empty New X trains, TFL should scrap that route altogether and get more West Croydon and Crystal Palace trains going. Cant the people who use New X station just walk the extra 2 minutes to New x Gate. Its a bonkers waste of resources, 33.33% of all trains almost empty leaving Canada Water in rush hour whilst the West Croydon and Crystal Palace services are crammed full.

Brockley Nick said...

@Fatty - as has been mentioned a few times in the past, the problem is that to fit more trains on the Brockley line (along with the Southern services) you'd need to upgrade the signalling, which would cost a lot. It's not that the NX trains are taking away services from the NXG branch.

Fattyfattybumbum said...

@ Nick - Oh right. Wish they had used the money wasted on trains for the New X branch, upgrading the signals for the section of the line where there is actually demand.

I had assumed that they ran those New X trains in the believe that it as it links to the Lewisham NR line (like the DLR does) it would somehow take pressure off Lewisham station. It hasn't worked.

Brockley Nick said...

There are a few train experts on this site who may be able to confirm, but I suspect a signal upgrade project would have been many, many more times expensive than a few extra trains and an upgrade of the New Cross platform.

Anonymous said...

i don't mind standing so much as having later trains (esp on weekends).

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, standing's not a big deal (although crushing or not being able to get on is a problem if you try to get on around 8.30am), and later trains would be great. That's just a question of political priority for Boris...

Anonymous said...

It would be good if the NXG trains were run equal times apart - at the moment in peak hour coming home you either wait 5 minutes for the next train, or 10 minutes (since every 4th train is NX) ... why not make it every 6/7 minutes and pop a NX one in between?

Anonymous said...

New Cross trains are totally pointless. They're always almost-empty, when the NXG ones are packed. They should scrap them and make all the trains run through NXG.

Anonymous said...

Also, the escalator situation at Canada Water is seriously dangerous, the amount of overcrowding is incredible. They really need to sort it out asap.

Tommo said...

@ anon 1151

If it was possible then I'm sure they already would. Trouble is that signals on the National Rail line (shared with Southern) are roughly 1km apart - not close together enough for a proper metro service.

It'll be interesting to see what happens once the extension between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction opens, putting even more pressure on the interchange at Canada Water.

patrick1971 said...

The reasons the New Cross branch was kept open are, I think, firstly down to the fact that it's always good to have somewhere where trains can easily terminate and reverse in case of trouble on the line.

Secondly, I think you need a full parliamentary enquiry to close a section of railway, so it's almost more trouble than it's worth...hence the existence of parliamentary trains.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_train

THNick said...

Fattybumbum - it's not really 2 minutes walk from NXG to NX and certainly not if you live 5 minutes east of NX. And there wouldnt be the capacity to fit too many more trains on the Brockley branch, regardless of signalling.

For once Lou is right - the current obsession with saving money is to the detriment of value. At the moment we have record low government borrowing costs and cheap building costs due to lack of demand in the economy. And yet rather than taking advantage and spending on infrastructure, we've cutting corners or cancelling things. Never mind the ELL, there are serious problems elsewhere on London's transport network where will we hit maximum capacity and there is no scope for increasing frequency or longer trains. We need entire new lines, but no one plans in advance.

Fatcat said...

I don't think the NX trains are pointless actually. In the morning rush-hour they are pretty busy with people either starting their journey at NX or changing from South-Eastern trains. If all those people went to NXG instead I'm not sure that one more train every 15 minutes (I think that is the NX frequency?) would be enough. Plus other people's points re the signalling mean it's just not practical.

And it's actually nearer a 10 minute walk between NX and NXG, not 2 minutes - do the hundreds of people joining the ELL from this side of New Cross, plus from Deptford and SE services not deserve their own branch which relieves some pressure from NXG?

MJG said...

Speaking as someone who lives halfway between NX and NXG I can safely say the NX trains are not a waste! Though less used than the NXG trains they are certainly not empty, even off peak.
As others have said, the major constraint on the 'main' ELL is the signalling south of NXG. That is unlikely to get sorted anytime soon. However, it's possible that once the London Bridge upgrade is sorted out the full length trains that currently terminate at LB will instead go to Blackfriars and beyond. That may help as it gives more choice than just stopping at London Bridge, encouraging people back onto that route and away from the ELL/Jubilee combo. Long term though the only way to add capacity is to upgrade the signals.

Good honest economics said...

Doesn't it make sense to look at the capacity/economic benefit vs cost and go with what ever looks best (subject to your absolute spending constraints)?

ELL extention surely gives far more bang for the buck than a completely new line?

Thats not to say that we shouldn't look ahead to other projects CR2 TL2 etc but come on, in tough times of course you will attack the low hanging fruit first. in fact at all times you attack the low hanging fruit first...

Andrew said...

Why people queue at Canada Water to use the escalators from the ELL to Jubilee every morning is beyond me.
After 1 week of doing it I worked out that it's twice as quick to go up to the main ticket hall and then down again. Problem solved.
People are too much like sheep!!
But then I've probably given the short cut away now!!

bob said...

londonreconnections has info on the enhancements suggesting that 2 new crystal palace trains could be introduced now in rush hour. Last night my CP train was not busy and was one of 3 CP, West Croydon, CP trains in a row. Perhaps they've started.

Anyhow my back of envelope calculation of todays 8 x 4 coach trains per hour (32 carriages) rising to 10 x 5 coach trains per hour (50 carriages) would suggest a 56% increase in capacity could still be added. The new services from Peckham way should also reduce demand on our trains taking people from both Surrey Quays or those who might otherwise catch a bus to New Cross Gate.

Once our Southern trains become Thameslink trains in... 2018 is it?... then some demand will shift form Overground. For example the crowd that get off at Wwhitechapel for the District West. But then Crossrail opens at Whitechapel around the same time, bah complex!

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