|Gospel Oak to Barking Line|
London Overground Turbostar DMU 172005
approaches Leytonstone High Road.
|Type||Suburban rail and Freight rail|
|Rolling stock||Class 172 "Turbostar"|
|No. of tracks||Two|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is a railway line in north and east London which connects Gospel Oak in North London and Barking in East London as part of the London Overground network. It is sometimes unofficially referred to as the "GOBLIN" (for Gospel Oak to Barking LINe). Unlike most railways in London, the line does not pass through the central Zone 1. Traditionally the line has played a minor role in London's transport system; however, it is now receiving significant investment to increase its capacity. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 6, SRS 06.03 and 06.05. It is classified as a London and South East Commuter line.
The line has only existed in its current form since 1981; however, most of the line is an amalgamation of lines built in the 19th century. The main section of the current line, between South Tottenham and Woodgrange Park, was built as the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, a joint project between the Midland Railway and the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway. This opened on 9 July 1894, linking the Midland and Great Eastern joint line at South Tottenham, and the Forest Gate and Barking line at Woodgrange Park. The section west of South Tottenham was originally built as the Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway, which opened in 1868 but had not been commercially successful as a stand alone railway.
Although the route between Upper Holloway and Woodgrange Park has been constant, several different stations have formed the east and west ends of the route. Kentish Town, St. Pancras, Gospel Oak and Moorgate (via St Pancras) have all acted as western termini. East Ham was an alternative eastern terminus for some time. Some trains were also extended beyond Barking to destinations such as Southend and Tilbury.
A connection to Gospel Oak was added in 1888. However, the routes via Kentish Town remained the primary ones and the Gospel Oak branch was abandoned in 1926. The connection to East Ham station was abandoned in 1958.
The Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway section of the line had a number of additional stations which were closed due to close proximity to other stations or for other reasons. These include Highgate Road (closed 1918), Junction Road (closed 1943), Hornsey Road (closed 1943) and St Ann's Road (closed 1942).
The line was considered for closure to passenger services in 1963 as part of the Beeching Axe. Beeching's proposals for London were not implemented (for the most part) and the line remained open. Instead the line was allowed to fall into a poor state of repair and reliability. By 1980 the line had been cut back to a single hourly service between Kentish Town and Barking. The station canopies were gradually demolished, the ticket offices closed and the stations unstaffed.
The situation began to improve in 1981 when electrification and upgrades to the line out of St. Pancras (later to become part of Thameslink) displaced the line from Kentish Town. A new link to Gospel Oak was built and the hourly service from Kentish Town was replaced by the current route between Gospel Oak and Barking with two trains per hour. The service remained very unreliable due to the age of the trains, which were initially Class 115 and 108 units, replaced in the early 1990s by class 117 and 121 units.
Initially part of British Rail Network SouthEast, the line was privatised in 1994, the track being owned by Railtrack (subsequently Network Rail) with the passenger service provided by the North London Railways franchise. This was awarded to North London Railways Ltd and then passed to National Express in 1997 who operated the line under the brand name Silverlink until November 2007. Under Silverlink, the slam-door trains were replaced by class 150 units in 2000, which improved reliability significantly. There were also minor improvements in station facilities (such as CCTV and information points) but major investment to upgrade the line and boost capacity was never made and the stations remained unstaffed. The service frequency remained two trains per hour.
Train use has grown significantly in London with many of the lines through central London running at their full capacity. This has led to the Gospel Oak & Barking Line taking on a new strategic significance as a by-pass, relieving the load on central London by allowing passengers to travel between north and east London directly.
The Railways Act 2005 abolished the franchise and devolved operation of passenger services on the line to Transport for London (TfL). In 2005, TfL started funding a small number of additional peak time and late evening services on the line, to relieve the worst overcrowding.
TfL took full control in November 2007 introducing improved late night and weekend services as well as staff, ticket machines and Oyster equipment at all stations. The service frequency was increased to 3 trains per hour during morning and afternoon peaks and the line was included on the Tube map for the first time.
The line was closed throughout most of September 2008 for upgrade work carried out by Network Rail. This increased the line's capacity from 6 trains per hour to 8 (4 each for passenger and goods trains). Gauge improvements to W10 loading gauge made it possible for full height goods trains to operate; two overbridges were replaced entirely (those carrying Sussex Way and Albert Road), and elsewhere track lowering work took place. Electrification was not included in this project.
In 2010 eight new Class 172 Turbostar diesel trains replaced the Class 150 units. The new trains have two 23 metre coaches with the option to introduce a third coach if necessary. The service frequency was increased to 4 trains per hour in January 2011.
Passenger services on the line are operated by London Overground. There are four trains per hour (i.e. one every 15 minutes) in each direction Monday to Saturday from about 0630 to about 2330. On Sunday there are now (since 22 May 2011) four trains per hour until about 2200.
Freight services on the line are operated by DB Schenker Rail and Freightliner. The line is heavily used by freight as it provides part of an orbital route around London, connecting with many radial routes, and the North London Line at Gospel Oak.
Two other passenger operators use parts of the line for infrequent services and as a diversionary route, but do not call intermediately. c2c run a few services a day that use the east end of the line to get from Barking to Stratford, passing through Woodgrange Park. Greater Anglia run one service a week from Liverpool Street to Seven Sisters via Stratford and South Tottenham.
The line has an active users' group called "The Barking - Gospel Oak Line User Group".
Except at the interchange stations, there are no staffed ticket offices. Ticket machines and Oyster pay-as-you-go were introduced in November 2007. Oyster card validators (for touching in and out) are installed at all stations. The ticket machines can be used to load additional credit onto Oyster cards. Passengers are required to buy tickets or touch in to validate their Oyster cards, or else face a penalty fare.
Owing to a lack of ticket barriers, and the difficulty of ticket verification when trains are crowded, the line has historically had a high level of fare avoidance. Under Silverlink, most stations lacked any ticket purchasing facilities. In theory, passengers could purchase tickets from the conductors on the trains however it was not always possible to do this. Following the introduction of the current ticketing arrangements, ticketless travel has fallen from an estimated peak of 40%, under Silverlink, to 2% in March 2008.
This is the passenger volume across the line from the years beginning April 2002 to April 2010. The large increases in the year beginning April 2006 were due to travelcards for National Rail journeys being made from stations which only have a London Underground office and also using a different methodology to estimate likely journeys made from National Rail stations in Zone 1. The large increases in the year beginning April 2010 were due to Oyster Cards being introduced in January 2010, so there has been a full year to process their usage.
|Harringay Green Lanes||No data||36,457||34,052||319,250||228,338||299,934||273,160||502,600|
|Blackhorse Road||No data||26,143||22,593||169,067||86,550||69,904||184,472||444,802|
|Walthamstow Queen's Road||76,675||34,379||30,503||62,520||68,681||69,418||86,904||216,142|
|Leyton Midland Road||110,046||34,865||32,407||285,208||224,047||308,836||302,722||501,186|
|Leytonstone High Road||60,227||31,542||26,724||261,238||224,047||251,676||244,624||416,310|
The annual passenger usage is based on sales of tickets in stated financial years from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve month periods that start in April. Please note that methodology may vary year on year.
All trains are diesel powered as the line has never been fully electrified. Two short sections of the line have overhead electrification, at South Tottenham (to provide a link from Seven Sisters to Stratford) and from the junction with the Great Eastern Main Line to Barking. These sections are used only by occasional electric trains on other routes or by freight trains.
London Overground operates a fleet of eight Class 172/0 two-coach diesel multiple units units which are used exclusively on the line. Until 2010 the passenger train fleet consisted of six Class 150 diesel units with two coaches each.
The line has same-station interchange with the North London Line at Gospel Oak, the Victoria Line at Blackhorse Road and the Hammersmith & City Line, District Line and London, Tilbury & Southend Railway (c2c) at Barking. Several out-of-station interchanges are considered official by the National Rail timetable:
There are also official TfL out-of-station-interchanges (see http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/out-of-station-interchange-osi/) (whereby the traveller can change to/from London Underground whilst continuing the same journey for fare purposes). These are between: Upper Holloway and Archway on the Northern Line; and Leytonstone High Road and Leytonstone on the Central Line. (The shortest route is via Harrington Road).
Except at the interchange stations, the station facilities are very basic. There are small rain shelters, information points with recorded service information, information screens and CCTV cameras. Typically there are one or two staff members on duty at any one time. Where there are no station buildings they operate out of container sized portable offices.
The line has a number of stations with step-free access, allowing wheelchairs/pushchairs etc. easy access from street level to the platforms. This access is provided at Gospel Oak, Upper Holloway, Harringay Green Lanes, Walthamstow Queens Road and Barking.
The trains themselves do not align exactly with the platform height and it is likely that wheelchair users would find it difficult to board or leave the trains without some assistance. All trains are crewed with conductors.
Increases in passenger numbers have led to severe overcrowding at peak times. However, it is not possible to further increase peak time train frequencies without reducing the number of goods trains, as the line can currently only accommodate 8 trains per hour in total in each direction. Any extension of passenger trains with additional coaches will require station upgrades, as some of the platforms are too short to accommodate longer trains. In 2008, works for this were planned to have been completed by 2010, but as of December 2012[update] it had yet to occur.
Electrification of the line has been proposed for many[quantify] years. In 2008, it was ruled out for the time on grounds of the cost and difficulty of electrifying a line with so many viaducts and bridges, but the Network Route Utilisation Strategy published by Network Rail in October 2009 showed a benefit–cost ratio for the scheme of 2.4:1. In 2012, The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, indicated that funding for the scheme was "a matter for the Department for Transport".
In 2011, Network Rail proposed the electrification of the line as part of Control Period 5 (CP5). However, in July 2012 Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, explicitly stated that electrification of the line was not included in the High Level Output Specification for CP5, and that any funds for the work would need to be provided by Transport for London. In August, the Mayor wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport to seek a way forward for the scheme, and "she committed her officials to support work with TfL, Network Rail, train operators and other industry parties to see if a viable way can be found to bridge the funding gap."
In November 2012, the magazine Modern Railways reported that the Department for Transport had ruled out the work on the basis of an estimated cost of £90 million, in contrast to an estimate of £40 million by Transport for London.
Local residents and users of the line have proposed the construction of a new station between Leytonstone High Road and Wanstead Park to serve the Cann Hall area. The Leyton and Wanstead branch of the Labour Party has expressed an interest in the proposal.
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