An ELL and NLL Overground Roundup


Last week saw an opportunity arise to see the work taking place on Phase 2 of the ELL Extension close up, as well as pay a brief visit to the new NLL control centre at Upminster.

On the ELL

As many readers will be aware, much of the Extension will utilise the Inner South London, with route clearing for the 378s now underway there. A short stretch of new line is required, however, on the disused alignment which runs from Surrey Quays to Old Kent Road Junction.

Once finished, the extension will link the ELL to Clapham Junction, where a new staggered platform layout is under construction, which will see the ELL and WLL platforms sit side-by-side. This will effectively see the current platform 2 split into a new platform 1 (serving Clapham Junction – Willesden Junction services) and platform 2, which will cater for Dalston Junction – Clapham Junction services.

As it stands, there will be no through passenger connection with the WLL, although stock movements will be possible. Indeed the complexity of the Clapham Junction layout had led to some discussion about skipping the station completely in favour of linking up with the WLL via the Ludgate Lines, but it was an idea that was ultimately discarded.

As the photos below show, work so far has focused on creating the cutting and raised embankment on which the new 1.3km track connection will sit. The existing viaducts that pass over the link are also being worked on, however, and it’s also now possible to see what is being put in place with regards to passive provision for a future station at the Surrey Canal Road site.

The image below gives a good idea of the site as far as the viaducts as viewed from the roof of the site offices (with a bonus view of the backs of London Rail COO Howard Smith and Peter Richards, Director of London Overground Infrastructure).

The work taking place in the foreground to the right is on one of several new underpasses being put into place. This can be seen in close-up in the second image.

The SELCHP waste plant looms large over the site, and over the viaducts running across the extension into the centre of London. These viaducts need some work, but the brickwork appears to be in a relatively good condition. The two left-most arches will contain the up and down lines of the new connection, whilst the right-most will be returned to use as a public footpath.

Between the two viaducts sits the site of the Bermondsey dive-under. This will now take place to the left of the corrugated iron in the picture below, but was originally due to be sited further to the right. The layout was reworked in part due to the fact that delays to the Thameslink project have meant that ELLX Phase 2 has begun before work on the dive-under itself.

Further along the line, the third – currently disused – viaduct needs some reconstruction work. Look closely towards the top right in the picture below and you’ll see elements of WW2 bombing damage that need to be repaired. The image beneath that gives an idea of some of the work underway beneath the various arches themselves. Mostly this is currently focused on removing existing concrete slabbing and putting new in. In this image, the presence of the workman at the end gives an idea of the scale, as well as the intended final level with track.

Moving further on (past the New Den) sees the line head up to embankment level. Here it needs to cross Surrey Canal Road, the site of the proposed (and much discussed on this site) station that now only has passive provision in the scheme.

Interestingly, provision for this station is greater than this author anticipated. Piling and preparatory work will take place for the platforms, and more importantly the provision includes the construction of a concourse box below the bridge slab on the southern side of the road. The site of this can be seen in the image below, with the photo beneath that looking back from the top of the embankment towards the New Den. The third image shows the platform sitings.

The diagram below gives a more detailed overview of the provision in place for Surrey Canal Road station.

Moving beyond the Surrey Canal Road site, the new section of line passes Bridgehouse Meadow. As can be seen, this is currently a demolition site as a portion has been reclaimed for railway use. Preparation of the land here saw the remains of New Cross Stadium (complete with asbestos roof remnants) uncovered – something that was known to have existed on the site, but which had been thought to have been removed from the site completely. This, along with the discovery of Knotweed at points along the alignment, has proven the biggest unexpected issue so far, although does not seem to have affected the delivery timescales.

Moving beyond this point, the work remains focused on excavation, as can be seen below. The final ELL image, courtesy of TfL, shows track slewing taking place at Old Kent Road.

The North London Line

Focusing briefly on the North London Line, upgrade work is now largely complete. Elsewhere along the line, Howard Smith was able to confirm that tentative explorations are now underway as to the possibility of re-opening the old, currently unoccupied, ticket hall at Hackney Central – although no funding for this is currently in place.

The first two pictures below, again courtesy of TfL, show some of the works that took place dismantling the signal box at Camden during the recent upgrade works.

Heading further afield, signals control for a good portion of the NLL is now at Upminster, where it can be found sitting alongside the same control for all of C2C’s routes. As many readers will be aware, the NLL is a busy line in control terms – not only due to the large amount of freight that runs through it, but also due to the sheer number of fringes it shares with other lines.

At Upminster, NLL control is split over two desks, with that in the first picture below controlling signals west of Camden, and the desk in the second controlling signalling eastwards to Stratford.

Looking back over the rest of the signals floor, C2C control can be seen. As can be seen in the final image, this includes a Crossings desk, which carries cameras (and manual control, where required) for many of the major crossings covered by the C2C network.

As many a signalman can attest, crossing desks such as this can sometimes provide a disappointing demonstration of the inability of some people to gauge risk. This is something that is depressingly evident in the video at the end of this post, which happened at Rainham – a crossing covered by this desk – back in 2008.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.