The Anonymous Widower

So How Good Is The Overground?

The London Underground is known all over the world and compares well with systems in many cities.  It has its problems, but it doesn’t have some of those of say Rome or New York.

Now the Underground has an upstart little brother in the shape of the Overground, which has been in operation for the last couple of years.

Like their middle brother, the Docklands Light Railway, the Overground has been built on the cheap, by reusing old railway lines, tunnels and other infrastructure and then adding new trains and rebuilt stations.

But just as with the DLR, it has been a formula that has worked. The Overground has just one major tunnel, which for an urban railway must be a world record.  But what a tunnel, with more history than many museums, as the Thames Tunnel is thought to be the first tunnel built under a navigable river and was built by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, in the first half of the nineteenth century.

The Overground currently consists of five lines, with a sixth due to open in late 2012. I use the North London Line and the East London Line often as much as seven or eight times a week, as Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland stations are within walking distance from where I live.

I like the lines, as the new trains are comfortable with plenty of space for parcels and bikes and they generally run to time. Only once have I had trouble and that was on the North London Line, where I suspect that a delay of twenty minutes or so was caused by a freight train, that shares that line was running late.

The lines also compare well with the previous lines, one of which I described here.  But then those lines as I remember them were last upgraded in the 1950s or even earlier.

The Overground also reaches a lot further and in time it will reach all round London and to the lines to Southampton and Portsmouth and eventually HS2 to Birmingham and the North. In a few weeks the North London Line will have a new link at Stratford for HS1 and the London City Airport.

In some ways the Overground and especially the North London Line is unique in that it is a siteseeing railway, which links tourist sites like Kew Garden, Hampstead Heath, Brick Lane, Camden Market and Crystal Palace with a ride that in places gives superb views of the city.

Overground Train on the Embankment South of Hoxton Station

This picture taken of a train on the embankment just south of Hoxton station, shows how the Overground is part of the city in a way that the Underground never can or will ever be.

Several people riding the line have told me has got them their first or a better job and reports have appeared showing that the Overground has improved job prospects and property prices, and even reduced crime. I’ve also heard the latter from a Police Sargeant.

But this is one of the reasons you improve the transport infrastructure, as properly done it makes peoples lives better.

But it is not all good.

The trains can get overcrowded at times and the platforms in places may not be capable of being lengthened, although adding more carriages to the trains might be fairly easy.

Connections to the Underground need to be better and the lack of a Central line connection at Shoreditch HIgh Street is the most glaring. Hopefully Crossrail at Whitechapel will resolve this problem, but will this new line put more pressure on the East London Line?

I do also think that the freight use of the North London Line might get to be a serious problem, especially if trains get larger and more frequent as more containers move off the roads to rail.

June 26, 2011 - Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] are not the first photographs I’ve taken from the station, but the photograph on here, was taken from the Southbound […]

    Pingback by The City At Sunset From Hoxton Station « The Anonymous Widower | June 29, 2012 | Reply


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