The Anonymous Widower

TfL Considers Replacing Over Half Of London Overground Trains Within The Next 4 Years

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on MyLondon.

This is the sub-heading.

The trains were specially built for the dimensions of the Overground network

This paragraph outlines, why the trains may be replaced.

The 57 Class 378 ‘Capitalstar’ trains which provide the majority of services on London Overground could disappear as soon as June 2027, as Transport for London (TfL) officials decide what to do with them as their leases expire. The five carriage walkthrough trains have helped revolutionise the Overground network, being built to special dimensions to fit the unique profile of the suburban routes they run on – notably the East London line, where trains use the narrow single-bore Thames Tunnels.


  1. The Class 378 trains, which I use regularly, still seem to be performing well!
  2. They could do with a lick of paint and a tidying up in places.
  3. Would it be too much to ask for power sockets and wi-fi?
  4. The other London Overground trains, the Class 710 trains can’t run through the Thames Tunnel on the East London Line, as they have no means to evacuate passengers in the tunnel in an emergency.
  5. More Class 378 trains are needed for the East London Line to increase services, but these can be obtained by transferring trains from the North London Line and replacing those with new Class 710 trains.

I live near the two Dalston stations on the London Overground and the thing we need most is more capacity.

I have some thoughts on London Overground’s future trains.

Increased Services On The Current Network

Plans exist to increase the frequency on various London Overground services and this graphic sums up what was planned a few years ago.

Note the extra two trains per hour (tph) between the following stations.

  1. Clapham Junction and Stratford
  2. Dalston Junction and Crystal Palace
  3. Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction
  4. Enfield Town and Liverpool St. via Seven Sisters

I think only Route 1 services have been increased.

I know signalling updates are holding up  the extra trains on the East London Line, but are more trains needed to fully implement the extra services?

  • Routes 2 and 3 services will need Class 378 trains because of the tunnel and these would be transferred from the North London Line.
  • Route 4 would need Class 710 trains, as the service already uses them.

So there may be a need for more Class 710 trains.

West London Orbital Railway

The graphic doesn’t mention the West London Orbital Railway.

  • There would be two routes between West Hampstead and Hounslow and Hendon and Kew Bridge using the Dudding Hill Line.
  • The tracks already exist.
  • Some new platforms and stations would be needed.
  • The route would probably need improved signalling.
  • Four tph on both routes would probably be possible.
  • The West London Orbital Railway would connect to the Great Western Railway, the North London and Elizabeth Lines and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common station.

I believe it could be run by battery-electric versions of either the Class 378 or Class 710 trains. This would avoid electrification.

As some commentators have suggested that the West London Orbital Railway and the Gospel Oak and Barking Line would be connected, I would expect that new battery-electric Class 710 trains would be used.

Adding On-board Energy Storage To The Class 378 Trains

In Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I asked whether it would be worthwhile.

I finished with these two sentences.

I have no idea how much electricity would be saved by regenerative braking on the London Overground, but various applications of regenerative braking technology talk of electricity savings of between ten and twenty percent.

I think it is only a matter of time before the technology is proven to be sufficiently reliable and the numbers add up correctly for the Class 378 trains to be fitted with on-board energy storage.

What would be the advantages from fitting on-board energy storage?

  • There would be the savings of electricity by the use of regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Trains could be rescued from the Thames Tunnel, if there was a power failure.
  • Hotel power would be maintained, if there was a power failure.
  • Trains can be moved in depots and sidings without power.
  • Trains would be able to move in the event of cable theft.
  • Short route extensions might be possible.
  • Could battery power be used to serve Euston during the rebuilding process for High Speed Two?
  • Do Network Rail want to remove third-rail electrification from Euston station for safety or cost reasons?

There could be a saving in train operating costs.

We know the trains are coming up for a new lease.

Suppose the leasing company fitted them with new batteries and some other customer-friendly improvements like new seat covers, better displays, litter bins, power sockets and wi-fi.

  • The leasing company would be able to charge more, as they have added value to the trains.
  • TfL would be saving money due to less of an electricity bill.
  • The passenger numbers might increase due to the extra customer-friendly features.
  • Electrification might be removed from places where theft is a problem.
  • Third-rail electrification could be removed from Euston station. It’s only 2.8 miles to South Hampstead station, where third-rail electrification already exists.

Get it right and passengers, TfL, Network Rail and the leasing company would all be winners.






March 4, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. The lease expires in June 27 and TfL have the option to purchase the fleet then or take out a new lease. It has to be one of those two options they dont have access to the funds to buy a new fleet and have far more higher priorities on the tube network first.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | March 4, 2023 | Reply

    • I do think there’s a possibility to upgrade all the fleet with batteries and this might mean that everybody cuts costs and/or makes more money.

      I also suspect that Network Rail want third-rail out of Euston, as that might mean that a single platform without electrification would be all that the Overground would need. It could be used by parcel freight services at night.

      Euston also has the problem of the sleeper trains. They need a very long platform, so why not come in at about six into the HS 2 platforms and leave for the sidings by say seven.

      Comment by AnonW | March 5, 2023 | Reply

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