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Tube East London Line Extensions

Connections from the East London Line onto the National Rail network at both ends using disused railway alignments will permit orbital services from Highbury to Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace and Croydon.

The East London Line is currently being extended both north and south to link it into the suburban rail network. The first stage - which began on 4 May 2005 and is scheduled for completion in 2010 - will see new TfL-controlled overground rail services running from Highbury & Islington via Dalston Junction to West Croydon and Crystal Palace. The second phase, which is not yet authorised, would add on a western branch from Surrey Quays via Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction.

The existing East London Line will have to close towards the end of the project - for 18 months from late 2008 - and will reopen as the "East London Railway". Shoreditch station closed permanently on 9th June 2006, to allow construction of the extension - a new station will replace it at a more convenient location on Shoreditch High Street.

It is important to note that no tunnelling work is being done. This will not be a "tube" line in the traditional sense - it just involves connections onto existing National Rail surface lines, with services running over these to new destinations.

The project is being undertaken by TfL's Rail division (after being handed to them by the Strategic Rail Authority in 2004), rather than London Underground (LU) - it will no longer be a "Tube" line when it opens, although it will still be controlled by TfL.

Upon completion, it will be absorbed into TfL's North London Railway rail concession, in which what are currently Silverlink Metro operations will be tendered out to a (private) train operating company, in a similar (but more tightly-controlled) way to the national network. Network Rail will be responsible for the infrastructure, although LU will still be responsible for the platforms at its interchange stations at Canada Water and Whitechapel.

London Overground logo,  Transport for London 2006
London Overground logo
( TfL 2006)

The completed route will be known as the East London Railway (to complement the North London Railway) and will be branded using an orange "London Overground" logo. It will appear on the Tube map in the same way as other Overground lines (see TfL's mock-up map).

The extensions

Northern extension
Impression of Hoxton station
Impression of Hoxton station (from TfL)

The northern extension uses dismantled lines out of the old Broad Street station. Shoreditch Station was closed on 9th June 2006; the lines will be diverted to a new station on Shoreditch High Street. The line will then travel parallel to Kingsland Road with stations at Hoxton, Haggerston and Dalston. It will then join the North London Line to serve Canonbury and Highbury & Islington, where connections can be made to the Victoria Line. Reversing sidings would be constructed beyond Caledonian Road & Barnsbury; trains might stop at that station, or run out of service between Highbury and the sidings.

The northern extension to Dalston Junction will be delivered by 2010 as part of Phase 1 of the project, whilst the onward connection to the North London Line will probably be delivered early in 2012.

A new bus station will be constructed at Dalston Junction to provide onward bus connections. This will be accompanied by a major London Development Agency redevelopment above the station.

Southern extension

The southern extension consists of two fairly small links.

Location of the ELLX platforms at Crystal Palace
At Crystal Palace, a track will be reinstated on the right of this photo next to the retaining wall, providing a new terminus facility for the ELL

A small flyover will connect the existing line at New Cross Gate Station to the line out of London Bridge, serving all stations from here to both Crystal Palace and West Croydon (Phase 1). A new turnback siding will be constructed at West Croydon, and a platform will be reinstated at Crystal Palace.

The second link will be part of Phase 2. It will follow an old railway alignment from Surrey Quays past Millwall FC, with a station here at Surrey Canal Road. This branch will then follow the overground South London Line calling at Queens Rd Peckham, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, possibly Brixton (see later), Clapham High St, Wandsworth Rd and finally Clapham Junction. At Clapham Junction, the ELL would use platform 2, with platform 1 restored for use for West London Line services, making interchange between the two easy (at least more so than having them using platforms on the opposite sides of the station).

New Cross will continue to be served as an additional short branch for interchange with South Eastern rail services.

Phases

The extensions will be built in two phases. Phase 1 sees trains running between Highbury & Islington in the north and New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon in the south. Phase 2 includes the fourth branch via Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction in the south.

Funding arrangements have now been agreed for most of phase 1 which is scheduled to be in place for June 2010, comfortably before the possible Olympics in East London. On 5 September 2006, the Mayor moved the northern section from Dalston Junction to Highbury & Islington from Phase 2 into Phase 1. [TfL press release, 05.09.06] However, this extra link will not be delivered for about 18 months after the line has opened as far as Dalston Junction.

Without the extensions, demand would rise to 11.6m passengers per year in 2011; with the original Phase 1 to Dalston Junction and Croydon, this increases to 35.4m, and with the original Phase 2 to Clapham Junction and Caledonian Road, to 50m.

The original Phase One was estimated to cost around 1bn, which is being spent by Transport for London as part of its five-year investment programme based on loans backed by the Treasury. The original Phase Two would cost around 275m, the northern section comprising 200m, and the southern section to Clapham Junction comprising 75m (excluding stations at Brixton and Loughborough Junction). [parliamentary debate]

The Mayor has not yet announced what funding arrangements have or will be made for the Highbury & Islington extension to Phase 1.

Service frequency & pattern

In phase 1, a 12tph peak service will operate between Dalston and Surrey Quays, with 4tph continuing onto each branch (New Cross, Crystal Palace, and West Croydon). This will mean 8tph for the ELL will call at stations between Sydenham and New Cross Gate inclusive.

This will be complemented by 2tph from London Bridge to Crystal Palace (continuing to/from Victoria) and 4tph from London Bridge to Norwood Junction (2tph continuing to East Croydon).

Therefore there will be 14tph in each direction between New Cross Gate and Sydenham (8tph to/from Dalston, 6tph to/from London Bridge). Crystal Palace will have 4tph to London Bridge (2tph via Sydenham, 2tph via Peckham), 6tph to Victoria and 4tph to Dalston. Penge East and Anerley may get 8tph (4tph to London Bridge and 4tph to Dalston), however, some London Bridge trains may skip those stations as at present. Norwood Junction will have 4tph to Dalston, 8tph to London Bridge (4tph via Sydenham) and 4tph to Victoria. West Croydon will have 4tph to Dalston, 4tph to London Bridge (2tph each via Sydenham (fast) and Peckham (slow)) and 4tph to Victoria.

The following table compares current levels of service in the peak hour (0800-0859) for the relevant stations with the proposed pattern for 2010 once the ELL service is introduced.

Station2006 peak service (tph)2010 peak service (tph)
VictoriaLondon BridgeVictoriaLondon BridgeELL
New Cross Gate 3*72*68
Brockley 3*52*68
Honor Oak Park 3*52*68
Forest Hill 3*82*68
Sydenham 3*82*68
Crystal Palace 7*46*44
Penge West 0204^4
Anerley 0204^4
West Croydon 55444

* semi-circular services via Crystal Palace; some terminate short at Streatham Hill Depot

^ not certain; some may skip these stations

It is uncertain how many ELL trains will continue northwards from Dalston Junction to Highbury & Islington, but it should be either 4tph (to avoid overloading the North London Line straight away) or 8tph (to match up with original plans for Phase 2).

In phase 2, each of the 4 southern branches will get 4 trains per hour, combining to give 16tph on the central section between Surrey Quays and Dalston. 8tph will continue from Dalston towards Highbury. The suggested service pattern is:

  • Highbury & Islington - Crystal Palace (4tph)
  • Highbury & Islington - West Croydon (4tph)
  • Dalston Junction - Clapham Junction (4tph)
  • Dalston Junction - New Cross (4tph)

The Phase 2 extension to Clapham Junction might take over from existing South London Line services, which currently run between Victoria and London Bridge. However, this might leave Wandsworth Road and Clapham High St without a service to central London, and those two stations plus Denmark Hill without a service to London Bridge. (Denmark Hill has services to Blackfriars and Victoria without the South London Line).

It is likely that some alternative stopping patterns for other services would come into effect to maintain a direct service to Victoria for the first two stations.

Rolling stock

The East London Line is currently operated with 4-car trains from the Metropolitan Line. When the extensions are built, the extensive surface running on the National Rail network means Class 376 Electrostar trains from Bombardier Transportation will be used - such trains were introduced in the last few years on c2c, South Eastern and Southern. 19 4-car trains will be required for Phase 1. [Bombardier press release, 31 Aug 2006 & TfL press release, 31 Aug 2006]

Impressions of the interior and exterior (branding) of the trains are available from TfL.

Although this type of surface stock is larger than traditional Underground trains, it can fit through the ELL tunnels because the ELL was originally built (in 1876) with the aim of running through trains from Manchester to the continent, using the current Metropolitan line, Hammersmith & City line and East London line to get to Dover!

Construction

The proposed construction schedule is as follows:

  • Nov 2006: Start main works on site
  • Feb 2007: Complete detailed design for main construction phase
  • late 2008: Line closes for 18 months & Shadwell station is remodelled
  • May 2009 (a): Rolling stock available for test running
  • May 2009 (b): Completion of infrastructure works
  • Oct 2009: Completion of test and trial operations
  • Jun 2010: Publicised line opening

Other points to note:

  • A possession of the Great Eastern railway (GER) at the entrance to Liverpool St has already been booked for Christmas 2007 so that the new bridge taking the ELLX over the GER at Shoreditch can be built.
  • The current connection between the ELL and the District line (St Mary's Curve at Whitechapel) will be retained.

Uncertain stations

Rotherhithe

Rotherhithe has short platforms very close to the River Thames and it was being considered for closure up until very recently, when an announcement was made by the Mayor that Phase One of the ELL project will keep Rotherhithe open. This has been achieved by a promise to build a second exit, giving Rotherhithe a reprieve until 2021 or until construction of Phase Two - whichever comes earlier.

If Rotherhithe were to close for Phase 2, it could be served by opening a new northern exit at nearby Canada Water station; however, the pedestrian route from Rotherhithe to Canada Water would need improving.

The future of both Rotherhithe and Wapping has been in doubt ever since the ELL was rebuilt in 1998.

Wapping

Wapping was also considered problematic but has recently been added to the business case for the scheme, and again the Mayor announced that Phase One would include Wapping. This has been achieved by a promise to build a second exit here, giving Wapping a reprieve until 2021 or until construction of Phase Two - whichever comes earlier.

Reconstruction is a major difficulty at Wapping. The station was built in 1869 and has a "derogation order" from the Government's Health & Safety Executive, which permits it to breach certain safety requirements. The station is on a gradient and a tight curve, with narrow platforms and no secondary means of escape - usually required for underground stations. The HSE agreement can be revoked at any time for safety reasons (this also applies to Rotherhithe).

Demand at Wapping will increase to 2.5 times current levels with the ELL extension project, and to 4 times current levels if Crossrail is also built with interchange at Whitechapel.

Construction works to extend and improve platforms at Wapping would be extremely difficult. Situated at the entrance to the historic Thames Tunnel, it could only be expanded northwards. The ground is waterlogged and construction works could cause the whole station to rise by 220mm, so further works would be required to prevent risks such as flooding, movement, cracking and movement in adjacent buildings, and the possible collapse of the existing railway tunnel. High volumes of water are already pumped out of Wapping station, and a tunnel collapse would risk flooding the whole underground section of the East London Line from Shoreditch to Surrey Quays - also jeopardising the District line at Whitechapel in the process.

These extensive works would take a whole year to complete, halting services on the East London Line for this period. Work would cost 100m, consisting of 54m costs, 13m to prevent "lifting" of the station and 33m required by the Treasury to cover the risk of overruns.

Some of this work could be funded by development of land above a new station site slightly to the north.

If longer trains were used in the future, the future of Rotherhithe and Wapping would again come into consideration. Difficult reconstruction work would also be required at Canada Water, where platforms are short as they are located on a gradient.

Brixton

Two new stations on Phase Two are just possibilities. Brixton has no platforms on the South London line (the route to be taken between Peckham and Clapham) - but these could be built, given that Brixton is a very busy bus/tube interchange station. There used to be a station at East Brixton but this is some distance from the existing Brixton station.

Unfortunately, since the station at Brixton would be located on a brick viaduct, the cost would be high - around 50m-60m for this station alone.

Loughborough Junction

Loughborough Junction is a less likely possibility. The South London Line passes very close to this station, which could provide useful interchange with Thameslink services between Sutton/Wimbledon, the City and King's Cross.

However, a similar problem exists here as at Brixton - at Loughborough Junction, the South London Line viaduct is even higher than the Brixton viaduct, as here it passes over the Thameslink line's viaduct. Usage is also likely to be much lower than it might be at Brixton.

Future

Orbital network

This is part of a proposed orbital rail franchise combining this, the North London Line, West London Line and "GOBLIN" (Gospel Oak to Barking). Whilst on paper it will be possible (with both phases of the ELL project) to run trains round in a complete circle from Clapham Junction via Canada Water, Camden Road and Shepherd's Bush back to Clapham Junction, in practice this service pattern is unlikely - few passengers would make journeys over halfway round the circuit, and the service itself could be prone to unreliability. Instead, several overlapping services would be provided (e.g. Willesden Junction to Stratford (starting back at Richmond), Clapham Junction to Gospel Oak (continuing to Barking) and Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction via Canada Water. See the page on the North London Railway proposals for more information.

New development stations

The London Plan mentions an additional possible new station on the ELLX, near Battersea Power Station (presumably just across the road from the Queenstown Road Battersea station served by South West Trains) to serve the large new development there, although it would be some distance from the power station itself.

Central Line interchange

Potential does exist at Shoreditch High St for an interchange with the Central Line which passes underneath it - but Central Line platforms would be expensive and would increase journey times for all Central Line passengers between east London and the City. It could only be justified if anticipated traffic levels were high enough.

Extension to Willesden Junction

Although the ELLX will initially be opened as far as Highbury & Islington, there is scope for extension to Willesden Junction via Camden Road, then using the Primrose Hill link from there to the West Coast Main Line at South Hampstead, and continuing via Queens Park to Willesden Junction "DC" platforms.

Reopening Primrose Hill station would therefore be possible for the use of ELLX services. Primrose Hill is a short walk from Chalk Farm station on the Northern Line.

Some services along this route would already have been introduced (between Queen's Park and Stratford) as part of the Orbirail plans.

New destinations

The East London Line project group aim for improvements for 2016. These include adding destinations (Finsbury Park from Canonbury, Wimbledon & Streatham from Peckham Rye, and the afore-mentioned Willesden Junction extension from Highbury). A subsequent frequency increase would occur on the central section - up by 4tph to 20tph between Dalston and Surrey Quays, with those extra trains heading to Wimbledon via Streatham.

To reach Finsbury Park, the platform layout would need to be altered, and these trains would not be able to serve Highbury & Islington. To reach Wimbledon, a new platform would have to be built for Tramlink so that the current Tramlink platform could be used by the ELL.

News

(newest first)
363m contract for East London Line awarded
2006-10-23 15:35:25

TfL has awarded the "main works" contract for the East London Line extensions north to Dalston and south to Crystal Palace and West Croydon to a consortium of Balfour Beatty and Carillion. The main works will commence later this year following completion of preparatory works along the northern route.

ELL extension to Highbury brought forward
2006-09-06 06:16:14

The northern part of the second phase of East London Line extensions - from Dalston Junction to Caledonian Road & Barnsbury via Highbury & Islington - has been brought forward into phase one following a commitment by the Mayor to connect his East London and North London Railway operations before the 2012 Olympics. The announcement was made at the same time as a "London Overground" brand was announced for all TfL's rail operations.

Four bids to supply East London Line stock
2006-01-08 16:35:51

Four companies - Hitachi, Siemens, Bombardier and Portabrook - have put in bids to supply trains for the East London Line extensions. The first three would build new stock, and Portabrook, an existing rolling stock leasing company which leases trains for use on the national network, would supply existing trains adapted for use on the ELL.

450m loan for East London Line project
2006-01-08 16:31:46

The European Investment Bank is providing a 450m loan to help finance the East London Line extensions to Croydon and Dalston.

Shadwell to be remodelled
2005-09-28 18:32:08

Shadwell station on the East London Line will be remodelled during an 18-month line closure associated with the extension project. A new entrance would be opened closer to the DLR station to allow better interchange amongst other improvements to both stations.

Taylor Woodrow to carry out ELLX enabling works
2005-06-03 15:02:44

TfL London Rail have awarded the East London Line extension enabling works contract, worth 30m, to Taylor Woodrow. They will carry out works such as refurbishment of the 21 bridges on the viaduct between Shoreditch and Dalston, in advance of construction work beginning on the project in June 2006.

Project managers appointed for East London Line
2005-05-13 18:41:46

Parsons Brinckerhoff have been appointed to manage the delivery of the East London Line extensions, for a period of 5 years.

East London Line plan boosts house prices
2005-01-12 16:13:52

According to rightmove.co.uk, property price rises in Croydon have been boosted partly by the planned extension of the East London Line to Croydon and Crystal Palace by 2010.

East London Line project transferred
2004-11-16 16:28:07

The ELL extension project has been officially transferred from the Strategic Rail Authority to Transport for London, who, the Mayor said, will deliver it to the first phase of its completion by June 2010. Phase 1 runs to Dalston in the north and Croydon and Crystal Palace in the south.

Mayor keen for East London Line phase 2
2004-11-12 19:07:30

The Mayor is as keen for phase 2 of the East London Line extensions to go ahead as he is for the approved phase 1. The Mayor believes that as long as a continuous level of funding is provided by government, the second phase can progress with funding from TfL's next spending reviews, either in 2006 or 2008.

ELLX team transfer from SRA to TfL
2004-10-19 08:37:14

On 13 Nov 04, the East London Line extension project team will transfer from the SRA to TfL, as the Mayor will be delivering the first phase of the project as part of his 10bn investment programme.

Funding agreement secured for ELL extensions
2004-07-20 12:34:07

The East London Line extensions are finally set to be built as the government gives Transport for London borrowing powers for this and several other smaller projects.

Go-ahead expected for East London Line borrowing
2004-07-04 14:36:19

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is expected in this week's Comprehensive Spending Review to give the go-ahead to Mayor Ken Livingstone to borrow 1.1bn to finance the East London Line extensions.

Olympic pressure grows on East London Line project
2004-05-21 12:01:10

Criticism of the "creaking" transport system in London by the International Olympic Committee has prompted calls by mayoral candidates Ken Livingstone and Steve Norris to Transport Secretary Alastair Darling to secure funding for the project so that construction can start - otherwise London's Olympic bid will fail.

Petition delivered for Loughborough Junction ELL platforms
2004-04-24 18:19:43

On Tuesday, GLA member Val Shawcross presented a 2,300 signature petition to the Mayor, asking for the London Development Agency to investigate the case for platforms at Loughborough Junction to be constructed for the ELL extensions.

Greens push for ELL first
2004-03-26 08:32:34

Deputy Mayor and Green Party member Jenny Jones has called for priority to be given to the recently-delayed 1bn East London Line project over the 12bn Crossrail scheme, saying that economic benefits should be spread around inner London rather than concentrated in the centre.

Four year delay for ELL
2004-03-23 11:18:08

Due to wrangling over the cost of the 1bn East London Line project, the project team will announce this week that the project cannot be open until 2010 - 4 years later than originally planned. The DfT has ordered the ELL project team to investigate cost-saving measures, including construction of the extensions in stages.

ELLX provides relief for Waterloo & London Bridge
2004-03-16 05:43:00

According to the Mayor's magazine The Londoner, the East London Line extensions would divert 5,000 rush hour passengers each from Waterloo and London Bridge stations onto ELL services, and 6,500 fewer passengers would get onto the Jubilee line at these stations as a result (presumably using Canada Water instead). [Note the link is a large PDF file.]

Links & Sources

  1. East London Line Project
  2. East London Line Group submission to London Plan (draft)
  3. Tower Hamlets: opposition document to possible closure of Wapping station [PDF]
  4. Parliamentary debate on the future of Wapping station
  5. Consultation on Shadwell station remodelling

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