|Owner||Rail for London Ltd; part of Transport for London (TfL)|
|Locale||Greater London; Watford, UK|
|Transit type||Commuter rail
|Number of lines||6|
|Number of stations||83|
|Daily ridership||over 200,000|
|Operator(s)||Operated by LOROL under contract to TfL, 11 November 2007–2016|
|System length||86 km (53.4 Miles)|
London Overground (LO) is a urban and suburban rail network in the United Kingdom. Established in 2007, it serves large parts of Greater London and Hertfordshire, with its network consisting of 83 stations on six lines. The network is operated by London Overground Rail Operations (LOROL) as part of the National Rail network, under the franchise control and branding of Transport for London (TfL). On 11 February 2013, it was announced that LOROL had been awarded a concession extension until 14 November 2016.
A pilot scheme was launched in 2003 to bring National Rail local services in London by multiple companies under the Overground Network brand. TfL introduced consistent information displays, station signage and maps on selected routes in South London. Although this pilot was purely an exercise in branding, it was the first instance of TfL having a visible influence over National Rail services. The pilot was later withdrawn.
In January 2004 the Department for Transport announced a review of the rail industry in Great Britain. As part of that review, proposals were put forward by TfL for a "London Regional Rail Authority" to give TfL regulatory powers over rail services in and around Greater London.
Silverlink had two areas of operation: Silverlink County regional services from Euston to Northampton, St Albans Abbey, Bletchley and Bedford); and Silverlink Metro within the London urban area. When the franchise was split up in 2007, County services were taken over by the London Midland franchise, and the Metro services came under TfL control.
Initial announcements 
On 20 February 2006, the Department for Transport announced that TfL would take over management of services then provided by Silverlink Metro. Tenders were invited to operate the service under the provisional name of the North London Railway. On 5 September 2006, London Overground branding was announced, and it was confirmed that the extended East London Line would be included.
On 11 November 2007, TfL took over the franchise for North London Railway routes, formerly Silverlink Metro.
The launch was accompanied by a marketing campaign entitled "London's new train set", with posters and leaflets carrying an image of model railway packaging containing new Overground trains, tracks and staff.
At the launch, TfL undertook to revamp the routes by improving service frequencies, staffing all stations, improving station facilities, introducing new rolling stock and allowing Oyster pay as you go throughout the network from the outset.
All stations were "deep-cleaned" following the TfL takeover, and Silverlink branding removed. Station signage has been replaced with Overground-branded signs using TfL's corporate New Johnston typeface.
On 15 April 2009 the North London Line platforms at Stratford moved to new high-level platforms 1 & 2 from low-level platforms 1 & 2, the latter being needed for the DLR's Stratford International service. Platforms 1 & 2 comprise an island platform with step-free access to platform 12 and subway links to platforms 3–11.
East London Line extension 
On 27 April 2010, the East London Line became part of the London Overground network when the Phase 1 extension was completed. The former London Underground line was extended northwards, mostly along the former Broad Street viaduct of the North London Line, to the re-opened Dalston Junction, and southwards to Crystal Palace and West Croydon.
Operations began with a limited preview service between Dalston Junction and New Cross/New Cross Gate, with full operation between Dalston Junction and West Croydon/Crystal Palace on 23 May. On 28 February 2011, the line between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington was opened. In attendance were the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and London Underground's Managing Director, Mike Brown. TfL said in November 2010 that ridership was ahead of forecast at 92,000 a day, and that patronage at Surrey Quays had "gone through the roof".
The incorporation of the East London Line into the Overground network has added substantial sections of line in tunnel, including the historic Thames Tunnel, the oldest tunnel under a navigable river in the world. A peculiarity is that at Whitechapel the London Overground runs below the London Underground.
South London Line extension 
The most recent addition to the Overground network opened on 9 December 2012, from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction via the South London Line, calling at Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road. The extension uses an alignment between Rotherhithe and Peckham that had been disused since 1911, via the defunct Old Kent Road station.
Funding for the project was secured in February 2009, including £64 million from the DfT and £15 million from TfL, with construction beginning in May 2011.
The route passes over both Loughborough Junction and Brixton stations without stopping, and this lack of interchange stations was criticised by local politicians during the planning phase of the project. No stations are planned at these locations as the line is on high railway arches, making the cost of any station construction prohibitive.
A new station at Surrey Canal Road was also planned, but this was put on hold in 2009, although a suitable station 'box' is being built to facilitate possible implementation at a later date.
The Overground is operated by a private company, London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL). Following a model similar to that used for the Docklands Light Railway, TfL invited tenders for operation of the Overground. Unlike National Rail operators under the franchise control of the Department for Transport, TfL would set fares, procure rolling stock and decide service levels. The operator would take an element of revenue risk: TfL takes 90% of the revenue and 10% is retained by the operator, responsible for revenue collection.
The tenderers were MTR Laing, a 50:50 joint venture between MTR Corporation (Chinese: 香港鐵路有限公司) and Laing Rail; Govia; National Express Group, the operator of Silverlink; and NedRailways. In December 2006, this was narrowed to Govia and MTR Laing, who were selected to submit their 'best and final offers', and on 19 June 2007 it was announced that MTR Laing had been selected.
The contract was signed on 2 July 2007 for seven years with the option of a two-year extension. In preparation for the launch of the Overground, MTR Laing renamed itself London Overground Rail Operations Ltd.
In December 2007, Henderson Group, the parent company of John Laing plc, announced the sale of the Laing Rail division, which comprised half of LOROL, Chiltern Railways and a stake in the Wrexham & Shropshire open-access railway operator. In April 2008, Laing Rail was bought by the German Government's rail operator Deutsche Bahn, which now holds a 50% stake in LOROL. The price was said to be around €170 million.
Current system 
The initial network, service levels and timetables were a continuation of Silverlink Metro services. As the Overground name implies, the majority of the network is above ground, and it mostly consists of railway lines that connect areas outside Central London, with a considerable portion of the network in Zone 2. The network also uses Euston in central London, the southern terminus of the Watford DC Line.
The Overground consists of the following lines:
- East London Line – Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace; Highbury & Islington to West Croydon (limited Sunday services); Dalston Junction to West Croydon; Dalston Junction to New Cross; Dalston Junction to Crystal Palace (limited Sunday services)
- Gospel Oak to Barking Line – Gospel Oak to Barking
- North London Line – Richmond to Stratford (the Stratford to North Woolwich section closed on 9 December 2006 and part of it has been re-developed for the DLR).
- Watford DC Line – Watford Junction to Euston
- West London Line – Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction
- South London Line – Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction
The network interchanges with the Bakerloo, Central, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Northern and Victoria tube lines, and also with the Docklands Light Railway and Tramlink networks. The Overground lines appear on Tube maps issued by TfL, and a separate map of the system is available.
Much of the Overground passes through less affluent areas, and is seen as contributing to their regeneration. The North London and Gospel Oak to Barking lines were previously considered by the Transport Committee of the London Assembly to be neglected and not developed to their full potential.
Service frequencies 
- East London Line – 4 serving each of the southern termini, providing 16 through the central section from Surrey Quays to Dalston Junction (including 4 South London line trains). 8 from Dalston Junction to Highbury and Islington.
- Gospel Oak to Barking Line – 4.
- North London Line – 6 between Stratford and Willesden Junction, with 4 continuing to Richmond and 2 to Clapham Junction. 8 at peak times.
- Watford DC Line – 3.
- West London Line – 4, of which 2 continue on the North London Line to Stratford.
- South London Line – 4 from Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction via Surrey Quays.
The Overground serves the following stations:
Current operations 
LOROL has its head office and control centre in Swiss Cottage. Rolling stock is maintained at depots at Willesden Junction and New Cross (newly built for the extended East London line). Satellite locations for stabling trains include Stratford, London Euston and sidings (mainly used by London Midland), and Barking Depot in East London (a central depot for the National Express Group franchise c2c). Train crew are based at stations including London Euston, Willesden Junction, Watford Junction, New Cross, Stratford and Gospel Oak.
Ticketing on the Overground uses a mix of paper and the Oyster Card electronic smart card. As with all National Rail and TfL services in London, passengers can use a Travelcard (daily, seven-day, monthly or annual); as on other National Rail services in London, paper single, return and cheap day return tickets priced under the zonal fare scheme are also available. In addition, Oyster "pay-as-you-go" (PAYG) is available.
As part of an effort to improve safety and protect revenue, TfL has announced that it will introduce ticket barriers at a number of stations. The stations that did not have barriers when TfL took over have been fitted with standalone Oyster Card readers similar to those at ungated Underground and DLR stations. The validator at Blackhorse Road which was needed to enter/exit the Oyster card system when using the line is now a route validator, coloured pink to signify this. Route validators are used to show that a traveller using Oyster PAYG changed lines at that station, showing which of the possible routes s/he used. Typically this avoids paying for zone 1 when the passenger did not travel into it.
The ticket stock for the Overground is common National Rail stock as Overground services remain part of the National Rail network, but sometimes with a large TfL roundel in the centre and the repeated legend "Rail Settlement Plan" on a light green background.
Ticket pricing 
Oyster PAYG is charged on the same zone-based rules as for the Underground and the Docklands Light Railway. Stations outside Greater London (except Watford Junction) are included in the new Travelcard Zones 7-9. On 2 January 2008 Acton Central was rezoned from zone 2 to 3, Hampstead Heath from 3 to 2 and Willesden Junction from 3 to 2 and 3.
Paper tickets are charged on the same zone-based rules as for Underground and DLR paper tickets, which were expanded to take in the extra zones covered. Watford Junction has its own fare scale. Paper tickets are significantly more expensive than using Oyster PAYG.
Although a TfL service, the Overground is part of the National Rail network, unlike the Underground. The most recent figures released by Network Rail (NR), for period 1 (2013/2014), showed that it had achieved 96.4% of the Public Performance Measure (PPM) target for punctuality and reliability set by the ORR. The moving annual average (MAA) of the PPM for the 12 months to 27 April 2013 was 96.6%. TfL, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has investigated the use of data from the Oyster smartcard ticketing system to measure the performance of the Overground explicitly from the passenger perspective.
The public presentation of the Overground is visually associated with TfL design standards, using similar graphic design elements to those used on the Underground, drawing on the design heritage of Frank Pick. These design standards have been applied to the new fleet of trains.
The routes are branded with a new version of the roundel, consisting of an orange ring with a blue bar. The roundel was adopted from an earlier design by the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 and has spawned many variations. The current TfL versions use a hollow circle or ring rather than the original solid circle.
In common with other TfL services, the Overground is denoted by its own colour, a vivid orange (Pantone 158C). Like the DLR, the Overground is shown on Tube maps as a double stripe rather than a solid line, to show that it is not an Underground line.
Corporate signage, stationery and literature use the New Johnston typeface in common with other TfL services. A few refurbished or new stations on the reopened East London line display the station name in large orange three-dimensional upper-case letters.
Rolling stock 
Since the Overground took over from Silverlink, TfL has pursued a programme of rolling-stock replacement in order to remove from service the ageing second-generation EMUs and Class 150 DMUs it inherited from Silverlink. In 2009, Class 378 Capitalstars built by Bombardier Transportation were introduced on the electrified lines to replace the Class 313 and Class 508 units used previously, while the Class 150s were replaced by new Class 172 Turbostar units on the non-electrified Gospel Oak to Barking Line. By October 2010 the new rolling stock had completely replaced the units previously operated by Silverlink.
The Class 378 trains were officially unveiled at Willesden Junction on 13 July 2009. They include a number of tube-style features, including longitudinal seating and increased standing room to provide a high-capacity metro service. They also benefit from walk-through carriage interiors and air conditioning. The North London Line has 24 four-car units; these were delivered as three-car units, with the extended trains being introduced from September 2010 following platform extensions. The trains are leased from newly-formed rolling stock operating company (ROSCO) QW Rail Leasing until 2027. TfL had planned to buy the new fleet outright, but in February 2008 it announced that it would lease the trains in order to free up the £250 million capital cost of purchase, combined with reducing the risk of making a loss through any future sell-on of the fleet.
Eight two-car Class 172/0 units, to be leased by the Overground, were ordered by Angel Trains on behalf of TfL in November 2007, and entered service in 2010. These were originally restricted to a top speed of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) as opposed to their intended design speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), as it was thought there was a fault with the exhaust system requiring modifications to the original design and the already procured units. However, it transpired that the exhaust emission testing had been flawed and that there were no major problems with the units or the original design. Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line line is advocated by TfL, local boroughs and passenger groups, but has not been included as part of Network Rail's Route Utilisation Strategy.
Before its closure to become part of the Overground, services on the East London line were operated with London Underground A60 and A62 Stock.
Current fleet 
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Seat layout||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 172/0 Turbostar||diesel multiple unit||75||120||8||2||2+2||Gospel Oak-Barking||2010|
|Class 378 Capitalstar||electric multiple unit||75||120||57||4||Longitudinal||East London
Past fleet 
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 150/1 Sprinter||diesel multiple unit||75||120||6||2||Gospel Oak-Barking||1984–1987|
|Class 313/1||electric multiple unit||75||120||23||3||North London
(Refurbishment 1997–2001 by Silverlink)
|Class 508/3||electric multiple unit||75||120||3||3||Watford DC Line||1979–1980
(Refurbished 2003 by Silverlink)
Future fleet 
The Class 172s are expected to be replaced by new, longer DMUs, as the current trains are unable to handle the passenger demand, causing overcrowding throughout the day. TfL has issued a tender for manufacturers to supply eight three- or four-car trains.
To increase capacity, TfL plans to lengthen the Class 378s from four coaches to five, and possibly buying two new five-car sets. Some station platforms will need to be lengthened to accommodate the longer trains. TfL's Business Plan provides for the start of five-car services on the East London line by December 2014, and on the rest of the electrified Overground network by the end of 2015.
All rolling stock in service now carries Overground livery. It is similar to Underground livery, and consists of light grey coaches, a longitudinal thick blue stripe and a thin orange stripe along the bottom, London Overground roundels at midpoints along the coaches, and orange doors. The ends of each unit are painted yellow to comply with National Rail standards. The seat upholstery features a moquette by fabric designers Wallace Sewell.
Older rolling stock inherited from Silverlink retained Silverlink's purple and lime green livery with yellow doors until it was replaced. The Silverlink logos were removed and Overground banners were added.
Proposed developments 
There have been proposals regarding extensions and changes to the Overground network. None of these has been confirmed to date.
Future acquisitions 
Following the completion of the current Overground network in December 2012, TfL expressed its intention to operate several other suburban lines within the London area. These include from Liverpool Street to Enfield, Chingford, Cheshunt and Hertford currently run under the Greater Anglia franchise, and several Southeastern services from London Bridge and Charing Cross. Finalised plans on granting TfL greater control over London's suburban railways are expected to be announced in April 2013.
Watford DC Line move to Bakerloo 
TfL has proposed re-extending the Bakerloo line to Watford Junction. It has been suggested that most or all of the line from Queen's Park to Watford Junction would be used exclusively by the London Underground, and London Overground services would be withdrawn.
As part of this change, Overground services would be diverted at Primrose Hill Junction via Primrose Hill (closed to passengers since 1992) to Camden Road, providing a new service between Queen's Park and Stratford. Were this change to take place, Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead would no longer have direct services to central London, and the Overground would lose its only presence at a London terminus (Euston).
Funding has since been confirmed for the Croxley Rail Link, diverting the Watford branch of the Metropolitan line to Watford Junction via Watford High Street, where it will share tracks with the Overground.
Old Oak Common interchange 
A long-term plan exists to create interchange with High Speed 2 at the proposed Old Oak Common station. Planning documents issued by the Department for Transport suggest that the new station, on a site just south of Willesden Junction, could open by 2025 and offer connections with the Overground on both the North London and West London Lines.
The station would also be served by Crossrail, Great Western Main Line services and Heathrow Express, and the proposals indicate the possibility of interchange with the Bakerloo and Central lines. The plans are supported by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: London Overground|
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|Look up Underground, aboveground, underground, or overground in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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- "Live travel news". Transport for London. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
- "London Overground". JourneyCheck. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
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- "Tube Map". Transport for London. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
- "Tube Map 2010". Transport for London. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- London Overground information at alwaystouchout.com
East London line operator
|Operator of London Overground
2007 – present
(East London Line from 2010)
North London Railways franchise