The transfer of more London-based services to the control of Transport for London has resulted in some significant changes to the operation, staffing and ticketing arrangements for the area affected.
As of 31 May 2015 TfL assumes responsibility for a number of lines previously operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. The routes affected are those from Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) as well as the shuttle service that operates between Romford and Upminster. All of these services will form part of an expanded London Overground network and be operated by London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. The operator is a joint venture between DB of Germany and MTR of Hong Kong.
This is not the only change to services in the area as the Abellio Greater Anglia services from Liverpool Street to Shenfield via Brentwood route has also been transferred to TfL as part of the part of the preparations for the launch of the new Crossrail services and represents Stage 0 of a six-stage programme that will see all of the first Crossrail scheme services launched by December 2019. The new operator, branded as TfL Rail, is MTR Crossrail, the company that has been awarded the contract for the full Crossrail service once it’s launched, using the existing Class 315 rolling stock pending the introduction of the new Class 345 units in 2017. The existing units will be rebranded ‘TfL Rail’ and adopt a new blue/purple logo/livery.
The new units, of which 65 sets have been ordered, are currently under construction at Bombardier Transportation’s factory at Litchurch Lane in Derby, at an expected cost of about £1 billion.
One of the changes brought in by the new TfL control of the Liverpool Street-Shenfield service is that all stations along the route will now be fully manned during operational hours.
The next phase in the development of Crossrail will be the introduction of the Class 345 units in 2017. Phase 2, scheduled for May 2018, will see the existing Heathrow Express service transferred to Crossrail operation. Phase 3, in December 2018, is scheduled to see the first use of the new tunnel through Central London as Crossrail services are extended from Paddington to Abbey Wood. This is followed in May 2019 by the introduction of services between Paddington and Shenfield. The final phase, scheduled for December 2019, sees the transfer of the remaining First Great Western services through the Thames Valley and the launch of the through services from Reading or Heathrow to Shenfield or Abbey Wood.
Looking at some of the more detailed changes. Emerson Park, the sole intermediate station on the between Upminster and Romford, remains unstaffed. Passenger traffic through the single-platform station has increased from just under 32,000 in 2004/05 to just over 127,000 in 2013/14. London Overground intends that a member of staff will travel on all the services between Romford and Upminster to ensure staff availability to assist passengers. As with the intermediate stations to Shenfield, both Upminster and Romford will also be staffed at all operational times.
All services to Brentwood are now provided by TfL Rail; as a result, the station has been brought into the TfL fare zone structure. It is allocated to Zone 9 and this has resulted in the reduction in a number of fares from the station to bring it into line with other stations in Zone 9. Thus, for example, the cost of a seven-day Zone 1 Travelcard drops by £4.00 to £83.40.
Shenfield station, although the terminating point of the TfL Rail service, remains under the management of Abellio Greater Anglia as the station is served primarily by main-line services towards Colchester. As a result Abellio continues to set most of the pay as you go fares from the station although Transport for London will set fares in the future for all destinations within Zones 2-9 from Shenfield, including all those served by the Docklands Light Railway.
Services on the line between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt will be split between Abellio Greater Anglia — those routed via Tottenham Hales — and London Overground — those routed via Seven Sisters. Following agreement, the two lines will share the same TfL pay-as-you-go fares structure.
Apart from these developments, the face of London’s railways also continues to change with the ongoing development of the Thameslink Programme. The final phase of the project is now in hand with completion again scheduled for 2018. Whilst construction of this final phase is in hand, there have been a number of significant service alterations. Between 5 January 2015 and January 1918 no Bedford-Brighton Thameslink services are calling at London Bridge station as they are diverted over an alternative route via Herne Hill between Blackfriars and Croydon with some calling at Elephant & Castle. The result is that journeys between East Croydon and Blackfriars will be extended by about 15 minutes. A limited service operates between Brighton and Lodge Bridge whilst services between Ashford/Rochester and Bedford will run only as far as Blackfriars.
- Further service alterations took place from 12 January 2015 and again will operate until January 2018. Southeastern services to and from Charing Cross will not call at London Bridge. Southeastern services to and from Cannon Street will continue to call at London Bridge but some diversions will take place between Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Blackfriars. Services to Plumstead, Woolwich Dockyard, Belvedere and Erith will be diverted to and from London Cannon Street until August 2016. These diverted services will still call at London Bridge. During this time platforms 4 to 9 at London Bridge will be closed for redevelopment. Southeastern services calling at New Cross, St. Johns, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations will be permanently diverted to and from Cannon Street, away from Charing Cross. This means Southeastern services from these stations will no longer operate to and from Charing Cross, and instead, operate to and from Cannon Street. Until August 2016, these diverted services will be calling at London Bridge.
The end result of the work will see London Bridge operate with nine through platforms: four serving lines to and from Charing Cross; two serving Thameslink; and, three serving lines to and from Cannon Street. In addition, there will also be six terminating lines, giving the revised station 15 platforms in all.
Other work in connection with the Thameslink project includes the construction of a dive-under at Bermondsey using part of the infrastructure once used to serve the long-disused terminus at Bricklayers Arms. It was work associated with this that resulted in the discovery of the remains of the long-closed station at Southwark Park. Work on this commenced in June and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2017. At Borough Market a new viaduct and second pair of lines have been constructed; a controversial project as the work had a considerable impact on the Borough Market conservation area, the plans were approved following amendment after a second public enquiry. This work is now largely completed but the new viaduct will not see its first services until 2016.