The Anonymous Widower

Up And Down The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking photographs of various parts of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin).

There would still seem to be a lot to do to restore the railway to operation as a non-electrified railway.

However, the National Rail on-line timetable is showing that from Monday, the 13th of February, 2013, a four trains per hour (tph) service will be working.

It is also worthwhile looking at Transport for London’s Track Closures Six Months Look Ahead. This is usually reliable and states the following.

There is no London Overground service between Gospel Oak and Barking until late February 2017. Replacement buses are running.

It also lists no substantial closures on the GOBlin in the next six months.

There is also this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Electrification of London Overground’s Gospel Oak-Barking line 80% complete.

These various statements and my pictures could point to a coherent interim set of objectives.

An Interim Set Of Objectives

Both Transport for London and Network Rail will want to get the line open for the following trains as soon as possible.

  • Engineering trains to support the finish of the electrification and station works.
  • Diesel-hauled freight trains.
  • Restoration of the four tph passenger service using the two-car Class 172 trains.

It could be that from the point of view of the electrification, the engineering trains are the most important.

So what will need to be done to meet these interim objectives.

Hopefully, the line will reopen to passenger traffic before the end of February 2017. But no-one would complain, if it happened earlier.

Finishing The Project

Once the limited objectives are met and trains are running, the following will need to be done to complete the modernisation.

  • The completion of platform lengthening, as at Harringay Green Lanes station.
  • Erection of the missing gantries.
  • Installation and testing of the overhead wires.

All of these tasks , can probably be done alongside of the working railway, as similar work has been done on the North and East London Lines and Crossrail.

The contractors will have the following advantages.

  • The track and signalling will be complete.
  • It can probably be arranged that overnight very few trains will use the line.
  • They will have a working double-track railway to bring in supplies and specialist rail-mounted equipment.
  • No electric trains will need to run on the line.
  • They will soon have light evenings in which to work.

If they can fit construction around the passenger service, everybody will benefit.

Handling Regenerative Braking


Little has been said about regenerative braking on the GOBlin.

I think, it will be likely, that the Class 710 trains will be able to use regenerative braking on the line, as it typically saves around 20% of the energy required to drive a train.

In Class 710 Trains And Regenerative Braking, I discussed the issues.

I came to the conclusion, that it is highly likely, that onboard energy storage will be used to handle regenerative braking on the Class 710 trains and thus the method would be used on the GOBlin.

As the prototype Aventra is now being tested, any design issues of handling braking energy will probably be resolved soon.

But prudence probably dictates that regenerative braking with batteries must be shown to work before the electrification design is finalised.

So could this explain, the delay in putting up the overhead wires?

Handling Regenerative Braking For Freight Trains

This is more complicated, as the freight locomotives on the UK network are not the most modern units.

I’m not sure, but the Class 92 could probably work the route using rheostatic braking.


I think that this project has been planned to open up a non-electrified railway before the end of February 2017.

This probably gives least disruption to all of the stakeholders.

  • Passengers get a four tph service.
  • Freight operators can run trains through under diesel haulage.
  • A route for engineering trains is maintained to assist in the finishing of the line.

But also by delaying the electrification, they can make sure they incorporate all of the lessons learned by the test running of the Class 345 trains.

Some might think it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast, but in truth, it could be some very clever project management, which has minimised the closure of the line.


January 20, 2017 - Posted by | Transport | ,


  1. I think I saw you? I was the guy on the bridge!

    On 20 Jan 2017 6:24 p.m., “The Anonymous Widower” wrote:

    > AnonW posted: “Over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking > photographs of various parts of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. There would > still seem to be a lot to do to restore the railway to operation as a > non-electrified railway. However, the National Ra” >

    Comment by Russ Hurley | January 30, 2017 | Reply

  2. Tou probably did see me!

    Comment by AnonW | January 30, 2017 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.