London Wiki
739px-Overground roundel.svg.png
London Overground
Colour on Map Orange
Year Opened 2007
Line Type
Rolling Stock Class 378, Class 710
Stations Served 112
Length 86km (53.4 mi)
Annual Passengers

London Overground (LO) is a commuter rail service in London, UK. The London Overground name is the brand applied by Transport for London (TfL) to the services which it manages on four railway lines in the London area: the Euston-Watford DC Line, the North London Line, the West London Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

The name has been used since 2007, when TfL took over part of the rail franchise from the Silverlink train operating company. In 2010, the London Overground network incorporated the East London Railway, a line formed from the East London Line (formerly part of London Underground) which is being extended to connect to the North London Line.

London Overground is part of the National Rail network, run as a rail franchise by the train operating company London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL), but the contracting authority is Transport for London (TfL) rather than central Government. This arrangement is similar to the model adopted for Merseyrail. The lines continue to be owned and maintained by Network Rail except for the Dalston-New Cross section of the East London Railway which will remain TfL property when it becomes an operational part of London Overground.

London Overground is best described as a commuter rail system, especially as many of the lines share traffic with freight services, although there is an intention to introduce metro-style frequencies eventually on all routes.

Current system[]


The initial network, service levels and timetables are a continuation of Silverlink Metro services. As the London Overground name implies, the vast majority of the network is above ground, mostly consisting of railway lines connecting areas outside Central London, with a considerable portion of the network in Travelcard Zone 2. The network also uses Euston in central London, the southern terminus of the Watford DC Line.


London Overground consists of the following lines:

The present network interchanges with the Bakerloo, Central, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Northern and Victoria lines and also the Docklands Light Railway. The Overground lines now feature on the standard Tube Maps issued by Transport for London.

The routes cover many areas of northern Greater London, and TfL may see direct control of the lines as attractive because:

  • There is some concentration in the north-east, including services to Stratford, to support the 2012 Summer Olympics;
  • They pass through less affluent areas, and are seen as contributing to the regeneration of these areas; and
  • The North London and Gospel Oak to Barking lines have been considered by some to be neglected and not developed to their full potential.

Service frequencies[]

Services generally begin between about 5am (from Watford Junction) and 6.30am (from Barking), between about 8am and 9am on Sundays, and all services are scheduled to be completed by midnight.

The following are the general service frequencies on individual lines:

  • North London Line - four trains per hour Monday to Saturday (three per hour after about 8pm), and two per hour on Sunday: Saturday and Monday to Friday off-peak trains are scheduled to leave Richmond at 11, 27, 41 and 57 minutes past the hour (15, 35, 55 after 8pm), and Stratford at 7, 22, 37 and 52 (12, 32, 52 after 8pm); slightly more services run at peak times Monday to Friday; Sunday services leave Richmond at 8 and 38, and Stratford at 19 and 49.
  • West London Line - mainly two trains per hour, with extra trains at peak times, but one train per hour Sunday mornings: Saturday and Monday to Friday off-peak trains are scheduled to leave Clapham Junction at 5 and 35 minutes past the hour, and Willesden Junction at 8 and 38; slightly more services run at peak times Monday to Friday, and some trains run to and from Stratford; Sunday services leave Clapham Junction at 30 minutes past the hour between 8am and 3pm and 18 and 48 thereafter, and Willesden Junction at 6 minutes past the hour between 9am and 2.30pm and 21 and 51 thereafter.
  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line - mainly two trains per hour, but three trains per hour at certain times of day: Sunday services are scheduled to leave Gospel Oak at 20 and 50 minutes past the hour, Monday to Saturday services mainly at 25 and 55 (0, 20 and 40 between 7.30am and 10am, and 15, 35 and 55 between 3.30pm and 7pm, with transitional services); Sunday services are scheduled to leave Barking at 5 and 35 minutes past the hour, Monday to Saturday services mainly at 8 and 38 (mostly 0, 20 and 40 between 7am and 11am, and 14, 34 and 54 between 3.30pm and 7pm, with transitional services).
  • Watford DC Line - from 18 May 2008 the service was increased from a generally two trains per hour service to three trains per hour Monday to Saturday: trains are scheduled to leave Euston at 17, 37 and 57 minutes past the hour (17 and 47 Sunday); they leave Watford Junction mainly at 1, 21 and 41, with some variations (21 and 51 Sunday).


London Overground serves the following stations:

North London Line[]

West London Line[]

Watford DC Line[]

Gospel Oak - Barking Line[]

Lea Valley Lines[]

East London Line[]

Originally part of the London Underground, intersecting with the Metropolitan Line at Whitechapel.

The original stations were:

The extensions are to Highbury & Islington Station in the north, connecting with the North London Line component of London Overground, and in the south from New Cross Gate to Crystal Palace Station and West Croydon Station (making use of existing mainline stations).

There are various extensions planned - including the London Bridge to Victoria Line (transferred from British Rail).


Ticketing on London Overground uses a mix of paper and the Oyster Card electronic smart card. As with existing National Rail services in London, passengers may use a Travelcard (daily, three-day, seven-day, monthly and annual) as well as paper single, return and cheap day return tickets priced under the zonal scheme. In addition, TfL permits the use of Oyster "pay-as-you-go" (PAYG), which allows passengers to load a cash value onto their Oyster card, and have the relevant fare deducted at the end of their journey.

As part of an effort to improve safety and revenue protection, TfL has announced that it will introduce ticket barriers at a number of stations. The remaining stations have been fitted with standalone Oyster Card readers similar to those at ungated London Underground and DLR stations.

The ticket stock for London Overground continues to be common National Rail stock, as London Overground services remain part of the National Rail network, but with a large TfL roundel in the centre and the repeated legend "Rail Settlement Plan" in a light green background.

Ticket pricing[]

Paper tickets are charged at the old Silverlink prices, which are generally lower than National Rail London zonal fares and London Underground fares. .

Oyster PAYG is charged on the same Oyster_Card Pricing zone-based rules as for the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway. Oyster is generally cheaper than paper tickets: for example, the fare between Harrow & Wealdstone and Hatch End is £1.00 with Oyster PAYG. Stations outside Greater London, except for Watford Junction, are included in the newly created Travelcard Zones 7–9, G and W, while Acton Central, Hampstead Heath and Willesden Junction were re-zoned on January 2 2008 (from 2 to 3, 3 to 2 and 3 to 2/3 respectively), which will also reduce some zone-based fares.


The public presentation of London Overground is visually associated with existing TfL design standards, using similar graphic design elements to those used on London Underground publicity, signage and other elements, drawing on the design heritage of Frank Pick. These design standards will be applied to the new fleet of trains.

The routes are branded with a new version of the roundel, the iconic bar-and-circle symbol associated with transport services in London. The LO version consists of an orange ring with a blue bar. The simplest form of bar-and-circle is used in many countries as an indicator of public transport services, especially on maps; the current TfL versions use a hollow circle or ring rather than the original solid circle.

In common with other TfL services, London Overground is denoted by a designated sector colour, a vivid orange (Pantone 158C). This colour was inherited from the former East London line, whose operations are to be incorporated into the LO system. Similarly to the presentation of the DLR, London Overground is shown on Tube maps as a double stripe rather than a solid line, to denote its status as a service which is not a London Underground line.

Corporate signage, stationery and literature use the New Johnston typeface in common with other TfL services.


Although branded as a TfL service, LO remains as, and is monitored for performance as part of the National Rail network, unlike London Underground services. The most recent figures released by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), for January to March 2008, showed that it had achieved 93.0% of the Public Performance Measure (PPM) target for punctuality and reliability set by the ORR. This was 2.4% better than the average PPM for all London and the South East railway companies.

Rolling stock[]


The History of The Overground

The History of The Overground.

On all routes except the East London Line, services began using British Rail Class 313 EMUs, British Rail Class 508 EMUs and British Rail Class 150 DMUs inherited from Silverlink. However, TfL committed to introducing brand new rolling stock to the service, including the East London Line, over three to five years. From 2009 the electrified lines will be operated by British Rail Class 378 Capitalstars to be built by Bombardier Transportation. The East London Railway will initially have 20 four-car units and the North London Railway 24 three-car units.

The Class 378 stock will not be able to operate over the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLIN) as the line is not electrified. While electrification is advocated by Transport for London, local boroughs and passenger groups, it has not been included as part of Network Rail's Route Utilisation Strategy for the Cross London Route. TfL has indicated that it intends to use new two-car British Rail Class 172 Turbostar diesel trains from 2009. MTR/Laing will lease 8 two-car units from a ROSCO, rather than their being purchased by TfL, as was planned with the Class 378 units. In February 2008, TfL announced that it would lease rather than purchase its Class 378 EMUs. This will be done through a newly formed ROSCO named QW Rail Leasing, with the lease running until 2027. TfL took this option 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.

If the plan to replace the Watford DC Line with a Bakerloo Line service to Watford Junction goes ahead, the London Underground 1972 Stock fleet on the Bakerloo line could be augmented by newly-retired Victoria Line London Underground 1967 Stock trains, although these would need modification.


All London Overground trains remain in Silverlink's purple and lime green livery with yellow doors. Silverlink logos have been removed and London Overground banners have been added to most units. It is not expected that any more cosmetic changes will be made to the livery and interiors until the delivery of the new rolling stock.

TfL's artist impressions of the future stock show them in a new livery, similar to London Underground's, which has blue and white coaches with orange doors and yellow fronts.

Future developments[]

The expansion of the London Overground network has been widely publicised by TfL as part of its transport strategy. It is proposed to add two new lines to the network, which would link to form a ring around London. The East London Railway is already under construction, but addition of the South London Line is still at the proposal stage. Prospective 2010 Tube maps were released to the press illustrating the potential full extent of the planned network.

Partial closure, Autumn 2008[]

The central section of the North London Line (NLL) between Willesden Junction and Gospel Oak is currently (from 1 September 2008) closed to allow major planned engineering in anticipation of later enhanced services. Part of the replacement services involve a diversion (Monday to Saturday) of Watford DC Line away from Euston, to Camden Road and onwards to Stratford, thus providing an alternative route for journeys between stations west of Willesden Junction and stations east of Camden Road. Additionally, Gospel Oak and most stations on the closed section of the NLL are served by one bus service interlinking with selected stations on the parallel Watford DC Line; also there are two extra trains per hour between Camden Road and Stratford, and the combination of services east of Camden Road ironically provides a slightly more frequent service than normal. The scheduled resumption of the usual services is Monday 17 November 2008.

On Sundays, the normal Watford DC route (serving Euston) operates, but there is an additional service between Willesden Junction and Stratford, via the route through South Hampstead and Camden Road.

The diverted Watford DC Line service mirrors the mooted future service between Queen's Park and Stratford, as described in the Cross London RUS and under the Watford Line heading below.

East London Railway[]

Main article: East London Line

The East London Railway became part of the network when the Phase 1 extensions to the East London Line to the new southern termini at Crystal Palace and West Croydon and the northern extension (mostly along the Broad Street viaduct) to the re-opened Dalston Junction were completed in 2010. This added substantial sections of line that are in tunnels (including the Thames Tunnel) (the oldest tunnel under the Thames), and created the anomaly that the London Overground line will be below the London Underground part of Whitechapel Station.

The line was closed on December 22 2007 in preparation for its extension and incorporation into the London Overground.

In the original Phase 1 plans, the East London Railway terminated just south of the North London Line, at Dalston Junction. The former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has since stated that Phase 1 of the East London Railway project would be extended to Highbury & Islington, in order to make a connection with the North London Railway, the Victoria Line and First Capital Connect services. This opened 2011.

Watford line[]

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 London Underground, and London Overground services would be withdrawn from this line.

As part of this change, London Overground services would instead be diverted at Primrose Hill Junction away from Euston, via the currently freight-only route through Primrose Hill Station (closed since 1992) to Camden Road, providing a new service running between Queen's Park and Stratford. As a result of this service change, Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead would no longer have direct services to central London, and London Overground would lose its only Zone 1 station.

However, the Watford line is still shown as part of London Overground on prospective Tube maps issued by TfL, so this proposal appears uncertain.

South London Line[]

The Phase 2 plans of the East London Line extension incorporate an extension from Surrey Quays along the South London Line to Clapham Junction. This would then create an orbital network around Central London, fulfilling the Orbirail concept.

Powers to build the extension have already been granted, but it is currently unfunded. Transport for London suggest it should be funded as part of the Thameslink Programme, due to capacity constraints at London Bridge Station once the Thameslink upgrade has taken place. Network Rail's South London Route Utilisation Strategy has also very strongly emphasised the need for this extension to the ELL, particularly in respect of the even more restricted capacity during the reconstruction of London Bridge.

The route would follow the line currently served by National Rail from Queens Road Peckham as far as Wandsworth Road, then branch off at Heathbrook Park, passing through Battersea towards Clapham Junction. This route crosses over Loughborough Junction and Brixton stations, Under current proposals, no stations are planned at these locations as the line is on high railway arches, making the cost of any station construction prohibitive.

In the March edition of the Londoner newspaper, TfL announced its intention to take over routes in South London when Southern's franchise runs out in 2009. However, this plan was not included in the franchise tender documents.

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See also[]

  1. Tube Map
  2. Transport for London
  3. Tramlink
  4. London Buses
  5. Docklands Light Railway
  6. London Underground
  7. Emirates Air Line (cable car)