Orange Blossoms: Romford – Upminster and New Trains for the Overground


Back in September 2013, following on from the announcement that TfL would take over the West Anglia Franchise, we announced that TfL had also agreed to take on the Romford – Upminster Line as part of the negotiations. Yesterday, alongside details of a new rolling stock order for the Overground, this transfer was finally officially confirmed in a TfL press release.

Today Jonathan Fox, Director of TfL London Rail, was kind enough to provide further information about the takeover:

During our negotiations with the Department for Transport concerning the devolution to TfL of rail services out of Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt (via Southbury), we were asked to also take over the Romford to Upminster service and make it part of the very successful London Overground network.

We have agreed to do this and are now working on how we might raise the standards of the service, which is currently operated with a single unit train, through the procurement of a new train.

Fox’s statement confirms that the line will indeed form an official part of the Overground network, rather than operating as a separate entity or as a quasi-feeder service for Crossrail as some had hypothesised. It also confirms that it will receive one of the new rolling stock units, the order of which was announced at the same time.

These trains will primarily serve West Anglia and the soon-to-be-electrified Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLIN), and are expected to enter passenger service in 2017. From the description within the OJEU notice it appears that these will almost certainly resemble the existing 378s to be found on the network, internally at least, with walkthrough carriages and likely longitudinal seating. The total order is for 39 units, of which 30 are destined for West Anglia, 8 for the GOBLIN and 1 for Romford – Upminster.

As these units will not enter service until 2017 at the earliest, TfL will continue to operate the existing fleet to be found on West Anglia upon taking over the line on 31st March 2015 until the new trains arrive.

Overall, passengers on West Anglia can likely expect that this takeover will resemble that of the North London Line, as the press release hints at a similar approach to station revamp and refresh:

In addition, TfL will ensure all 24 stations (there are 26 on the new routes including the Romford to Upminster line) for which it will take responsibility are upgraded with a deep clean, new signage, improved CCTV and passenger information systems.

Only 2 of the 25 stations on the line will remain outside of TfL’s control – Liverpool Street (Network Rail) and Cheshunt (Greater Anglia). Elsewhere Emerson Park, on Romford – Upminster, will transfer to TfL.

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.