The London Overground service was officially launched today bringing the Silverlink rail lines under the control of the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL).
As an immediate benefit Oyster pay as you go cards can now be used on services running between London Euston to Watford Junction (local services only), Richmond to Stratford via Willesden Junction (North London line), Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction via Kensington Olympia (West London line) and Gospel Oak to Barking.
TfL have promised that all stations on the network will be “cleaned and repaired by Spring 2008, and refurbished with more help points, CCTV, better lighting and customer information systems by the end of 2010.” A fleet of 44 new trains built by Bombardier is also promised for 2008.
Launching the new service Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said the service “is the start of a radical revitalisation of London’s rail services, which have suffered from decades of neglect and under-investment.”
“Our aim is very simple, to raise standards to levels similar to the rest of the public transport system in London, with Oyster ticketing and stations staffed at all times while trains are running. Over the next few years huge investment will bring more secure stations, new trains, and a more frequent and reliable service.
“The new rail system will create 400 jobs over the next three years and, with its connection to the East London Line, radically improve public transport provision in some of the poorest boroughs in London.”
Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy said TfL intended to “demonstrate a new way to run a railway, through tightly managed contracts to meet Transport for London’s standards of quality, safety, staffing, frequency and ticketing.”
“When complete, with the renewal and extension of the East London line due in 2010, the London Overground network will also play a key role in our transport for the London 2012 Olympics.”
Transport for London’s Managing Director of London Rail, Ian Brown, whose team will manage the contract, said he welcomed the opportunity “to show rail passengers what can be done when their interests are put first and I am proud to be part of the team which will make it happen.”
“However, it will take time for our investment to deliver all of the improvements. This railway is suffering from decades of underinvestment and bringing it up to Transport for London’s high standards will take a lot of hard work from us as well as a little patience from passengers while we make up for that neglect.”
Services will be run by London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL), a joint venture of MTR and LaingRail, who will operate trains and stations under the new London Overground concession. Responsibility for track and signals will remain with Network Rail.
Under the terms of the contract with LOROL TfL will take 90% of the revenue from the concession for reinvestment in the capital’s transport network, leaving 10% for LOROL as part of an incentive to run the railway to the highest standards.