ELL Extension Opening: A Rare Honour

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As expected, the ELL Extension to Highbury & Islington opened yesterday as planned. ELL services from New Cross Gate now run through to Highbury and Islington.

As has become the norm in recent years, the opening ceremony just before 1000 was attended by various media outlets and featured an appearance by the Mayor.

Most coverage has thus focused on the completion of the extension and the Mayor’s comments comparing the Overground to the M25 (and which there is therefore little point repeating here as well – the Londonist has a good post up for those interested).

There was, however, one part of yesterday’s opening that definitely deserves a mention here.

Eagle-eyed readers will have no doubt spotted from the photos above (and elsewhere) that during yesterday’s opening there were, in fact, two 378s at Highbury & Islington rather than one. The reason for this is because before the official opening, there was another short ceremony – a train naming.

The newly monickered 378 232 “Ian Brown”

As can be seen above, it was newly retired Ian Brown who was the recipient.

The naming is a rare honour indeed on TfL Rolling Stock, and in this case is certainly well earned. It was under Ian Brown’s watch as Managing Director of London Rail that the Overground (including the revamped ELL) was created, and although there are still plenty of battles left to fight, his ten years at TfL have left London with an Overground service that is light years ahead of that which was there before. Brown was also a key figure in the evolution of the Croydon Tramlink and worked on both the business case for Crossrail and forcing Oyster PAYG through onto National Rail.

Silverlink Veterans may wish to note the man second from left. If spotted in a pub, it is probably fair to say he deserves a pint.

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.