The Anonymous Widower

Before Overground – The Terrible Fifteen

I have now visited all of the stations that will be added to the London Overground on the 31st May 2015.

There is a large group of fifteen stations, that are characterised by steep staircases, no lifts or escalators, few facilities and often poor shelter from the weather on the platforms.

Bethnal Green

Bruce Grove

Cambridge Heath


Hackney Downs

London Fields

St. James Street

Silver Street


Stamford Hill

Stoke Newington

Theobalds Grove

Turkey Street

White Hart Lane

Wood Street

I suppose Walthamstow Central could be added to this list, but the problems there are more fundamental and are more down to the way the station was rebuilt for the Victoria Line.

Looking at the main list, it would appear that nothing short of lifts like those that will soon be operational at Edmonton Green will help to solve the problem.

And a sensible pair of lifts cost upwards of a million pounds. Enfield Borough Council have a page, describing the funding of the upgrades at Edmonton Green. This is an extract.

The Council are working in partnership with Network Rail to deliver two lifts at Edmonton Green Station to enable step free access to both Platforms 1 and 2.

The Council has been awarded £850k for the project following a successful bid for funding from the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme. However, the total cost of the project is estimated to be £1.45m and the balance of funding is being provided by the Council, utilising a mixture of contributions from nearby development schemes and grant funding from Transport for London .

So are we prepared to fund improvements like this which for the terrible fifteen which will probably cost over twenty million pounds?

Although it would be a laudable aim to have every station totally step-free, because of passenger behaviour some stations might never need to be upgraded.

I am not disabled, but at times, I take a roundabout route to my destination, as perhaps it only has a short walk on the level. Rain also affects my chosen route, as I rarely carry an umbrella. But I do know the bus/tube/Overground combinations with the least exposed walking. For instance, I must use about half a dozen routes to get to and from Liverpool Street station depending on various factors and which bus arrives first.

So when a station like Edmonton Green gets a significant upgrade, does this alter all of the travelling patterns in the area?As an example, will passengers for the Silver Street area and the North Middlesex Hospital go to Edmonton Green and get a bus?

So perhaps instead of upgrading all of the stations, we should do a few more major schemes first and then do others as necessary, and as the budget allows.

Where would I start?

White Hart Lane

White Hart Lane is down to be redeveloped, as part of the new Spurs stadium. All options of Haringey’s development plans for the High Road West area, show the station moved a short distance to the south and connected by a wide pedestrian way to the High Road and the new stadium. Click here for the main council site for the development.

I will be very surprised if something much better doesn’t happen at White Hart Lane. which makes travel in the greater Tottenham area better. But then I remember the area well from the 1950s and 1960s and if ever an area has shown an ability to get no worthwhile development it is this one. The council, the politicians and the football club, should all hold their heads in shame.

Walthamstow Central

The Walthamstow area is on the up and something must be done to complete the Victoria Line station and make interchange to the Chingford branch easier and hopefully substantially step-free.

This probably means adding the third escalator to the Victoria Line and putting either a lift or escalator connection between the Victoria Line entrance and the Chingford branch platforms.

If only the job had been done properly in the 1960s.

Hackney Downs

Until the pedestrian link is installed between Hackney Downs and Hackney Central stations is completed, I won’t comment on it.

But it does strike me, that as the two Hackney stations taken together will be very important to the Overground, that some selective and intelligent design could improve the complex substantially.

Let’s face it, You wouldn’t design a station like Hackney Downs, with four platforms connected by a subway, these days. The picture shows an aerial view from Google Earth.

Hackney Downs Station

Hackney Downs Station

Note how the lines split to the north of the station, with the right branch going to Chingford and Tottenham Hale and the left branch to Enfield Town and Cheshunt. Platform 1 is to the right in the picture, 2 and 3 make up the island in the middle and platform 4 is to the left.

So could the use of the station be changed so that all northbound and southbound services use just one platform each? When I use the station to go to Walthamstow or Enfield Town, I often have a lonely long wait on an empty platform. So as the off peak service through the station is just ten trains per hour in both directions, surely this could it be arranged, so that southbound services generally call at Platform 1 and all northbound services call at Platform 4. Incidentally, in the evening rush hour, there are around twenty trains an hour from Liverpool Street, that stop at Hackney Downs. You’d still have the two middle lines for fast trains going through the station without stopping, but they’d be running past the current Platforms 2 and 3, which for most of the time would be unused.

Surely, with the modern in-cab signalling, that should be universal in the next few years, Hackney Downs can be reduced to working most of the time, as a two-platform station.

As Thameslink and Crossrail are talking twenty-four trains an hour through tunnels under London, surely ten though Hackney Downs for much of the day and twenty during the rush hour must be possible. I suppose that platform allocation at Liverpool Street could be a problem, but then Crossrail will release platform space in 2018, when it starts using the tunnels.

This would reduce the step-free requirement to just two platforms and would also mean that anybody travelling south and wanting to change to a train from Hackney Central, would have a fairly easy interchange, through the new pedestrian link.

Remember though that at Canonbury and Clapham Junction, London Overground have shown they can think out of the box, where platform usage is concerned.

So don’t be surprised at what might happen at Hackney Downs!



October 4, 2014 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] worry for the Overground is will Transport for London be able to find the budget to improve the terrible fifteen and the others that I let off, as being […]

    Pingback by A Positive View Of The Overground Takeover « The Anonymous Widower | May 29, 2015 | Reply

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