Update from TfL on Barking- Gospel Oak line
I’m writing to update you on our plans to provide new electric trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking line, and to advise of some forthcoming short-term changes to the weekend service.
As I am sure you know, we are investing over £300m in 54 new, state-of-the-art, British-built, electric London Overground trains. These trains will help boost capacity on some of the busiest and, at times, most overcrowded lines, starting with the Gospel Oak to Barking line.
We had expected the new trains to be here long before now, and we are sorry for the continuing delay. This has been due to the manufacturer, Bombardier Transportation, which has needed to undertake further software development to ensure the new high-tech trains deliver the reliable service customers have been patiently waiting for.
Bombardier has told us that, subject to further successful software development, the new trains should begin entering passenger service in the second half of December. We share your frustration at these continuing delays and, together with the Mayor, are fully focused on ensuring Bombardier deliver the trains as quickly as possible.
Testing of the new trains is well underway. Some trains have already accumulated in excess of 1,000 miles, helping Bombardier iron out problems before they enter passenger service. The software has now been developed to the point where we have been able to begin driver training. We need to train nearly 170 drivers to be able to run a full complement of new trains, and are working closely with the London Overground’s operator, Arriva Rail London, to introduce the new trains as quickly as possible.
I would also like to update you on some planned short-term changes to the weekend service. You may be aware that, to accommodate the delay to the new trains, we negotiated an extension to the lease of the diesel trains, which currently run on the line. These trains were due to be overhauled some time ago and are becoming increasingly unreliable. Furthermore, one of these trains, which was being used as a spare in case of maintenance issues, has had to be released to be overhauled before being redeployed elsewhere in the country.
Therefore, to allow train maintenance work to increase the likelihood of a reliable weekday service, trains will run less frequently at weekends until the new trains begin to be introduced. We will confirm the details of these changes in the next few days and I will of course share these with you. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this will cause and continue to work closely with Arriva Rail London and our train maintenance contractor to minimise disruption. We will keep customers informed, including through information at stations and on social media, and we advise people to check before they travel.
We will, of course, also continue to run the supplementary bus services which have been providing additional capacity from Leyton Midland Road and Leytonstone High Road on weekday mornings.”