London Rail

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London Rail
Overground roundel (no text).svg
Formation 1999
Type Directorate of Transport for London
Purpose Overseeing regional rail operations
Region served
Greater London, UK
Parent organisation
Transport for London
A topological map of the London Rail services, showing all lines and stations. The Overground, DLR, Tramlink, and future service Crossrail is shown, as well as the London Underground system, to show how London Rail's services integrate with each other.

London Rail is a directorate of Transport for London (TfL), involved in the relationship with the National Rail network within Greater London, UK. It manages non-tube rail systems in Greater London.


London Rail manages the London Overground (LO), London Trams and Docklands Light Railway (DLR). It will also be responsible for Crossrail. As part of an internal restructure within TfL, it recently merged with the (previously separate) London Underground directorate, bringing all of Greater London local transport services on rails under one division.

The London Overground was established in 2007 when TfL took over control of the former National Rail Silverlink franchise in 2007. It has since taken on more services through a former London Underground line and over other network rail lines. London Rail lets a concession to operate the Overground. Operation is contracted to London Overground Rail Operations (owned by Arriva UK Trains and MTR) until 2014/16.

London Trams is responsible only for the Croydon Tram known as Tramlink. Tramlink was set up in 2000 by a private finance initiative. It was bought by TfL in 2008 and has been operated by it since. London Trams has been working on proposals for other tram schemes in west and central London, however as of 2011 all are unfunded or cancelled.

The Docklands Light Railway was established in 1987 and has seen significant expansion since. Its operation is contracted out as a concession to Serco until 2014.[1] There are also other concessionaires who have built and manage extensions.[2]

Crossrail also operates as a concession from London Rail.[3] It already operates the Shenfield Metro services, taking over from Abellio Greater Anglia on 31 May 2015. The Reading / Heathrow services are however still operated by Great Western Railway, but will be taken over by Crossrail from 2018.[4]

National Rail in Greater London[edit]

The National Rail network within Greater London carries large numbers of commuters into London and also provides many local services, especially within South London.

Under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 Transport for London was given powers to consult with the train operators and as such London Rail is therefore more of an enabler than an operator, and has developed partnerships with the Department for Transport (who are responsible for rail strategy), Network Rail (who own the infrastructure) and the various train operating companies (who manage the services) in order to further its aims.

A pilot project was launched in 2003 to promote the various services provided by train operating companies in South London under one umbrella brand, Overground Network. The scheme included station upgrades, signage and publicity, but promotion of the brand had ceased by 2007.

London Rail also influences rail freight and freight depots in Greater London.[5] In August 2007, London Rail published its 'Rail Freight Strategy' report.[6]

Both former Mayors of London Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson have expressed the desire to gain control of all local rail services in Greater London in the future and make them part of the London Overground. London Overground has already taken over Lea Valley Lines services from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt and Chingford and Romford to Upminster Line services on 31 May 2015.[7]


  1. ^ "DLR operating contract extended until September 2014". Transport for London. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Crossrail moves forward with major train and depot contract", Crossrail, 1 December 2010
  4. ^ "London Reconnections: TfL Board Meeting Summary: DLR, Overground and Other Ways of Travelling". 
  5. ^ London Freight
  6. ^ London Rail Rail Freight Strategy report
  7. ^ "London Rail Authority". 7 September 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2007.