The London Underground map is a design classic. But it has one major problem: there’s not enough orange – the colour of London Overground. And there’s not enough south London, which is a foreign land to most of the tube network.
London’s suburban rail users – particularly in south London – are faced with a postcode lottery. Those served by the new London Overground enjoy a reliable service on spacious frequent trains, whilst those without are too often faced with a deplorable service – infrequent, dingy and overcrowded.
All change. After years of campaigning – exemplified by the compelling case set out by a Centre for London report just last week – TfL is set to gain control of our city’s suburban rail network.
The TfL takeover of orbital lines in north and east, and south east London – creating the London Overground – has been an astonishing success. Five cars instead of three, refurbished stations, lengthened platforms and greater frequency – not just in peak hours but the rest of the working day and weekends too.
Passenger numbers on these lines have soared in the eight years since TfL took the reins: from 29m in 2007/08 to 140m in 2014/15.
Passenger satisfaction has risen sharply, as better transport has spurred greater investment, regeneration and growth, and housebuilding along the route is booming.
Commuters on some of the city’s most maligned and frustrating routes – running from Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Moorgate, Victoria, Waterloo and London Bridge – deserve the same quality of service.
What’s needed now is an action plan to turn promises into reality as soon as possible. It’s time to spread the orange revolution across the entire city.