The stations to be incorporated into the Overground from the Lea Valley Lines have a sprinkling of cafes, like this one at Hackney Downs.
I got a nice cup of tea there, but on chatting with the owner, there are issues that London Overground need to sort out with these little cafes and other shops in the stations.
I also feel that in some of the smaller stations, the only decent small premises are the booking office, which was often closed. As it is Transport for London’s policy to do away with booking offices, perhaps some could be revamped as retail premises.
At Rectory Road, there was only one lonely guy sitting in the booking office. He should be on or watching the platforms, not hidden away!
To say some of the stations on the Lea Valley Lines are drab and colourless is an understatement.
Colourless it may be, but a station like Stoke Newington has some very interesting brick arches. Instead of just being filled with litter, perhaps some innovative ideas to brighten them up could be applied.
There are gardens in some stations, but they are generally drab and only enlivened by the odd patch of Japanese knotweed.
Perhaps a Highams Park solution can be applied, where local volunteers have created the gardens.
One thing that Transport for London (TfL) manages better than any other transport authority I’ve used anywhere in the world, is the interface between the various modes of transport.
Turn up at most Underground or Overground stations or any bus stop and you’ll generally find two things; a bus spider map, showing where the buses in the area go and a good easy-to-read walking map for those who need, have or want to walk.
Today, I arrived at Rectory Road station for the first time and I couldn’t find the information I needed to get a bus to Hackney. Not really a problem, as I got back on the next train to Hackney Downs.
At present some of the stations have information levels more appropriate to a rural halt in the wilds of Norfolk.
So will we see better information on the Lea Valley Lines, when TfL is responsible for the stations?
When the London Overground was created in 2007, the Class 378 trains were delivered as just three car trains. Partly this was because, a lot of the platforms couldn’t handle longer trains. These trains and platforms have grown to accommodate the increase in traffic. The Class 378 trains are now going to five cars and in some documents Transport for London is talking about six cars in the future.
Wikipedia states this on the Overground’s future fleet.
TfL announced its Invitation To Tender for a total of 39 four-car EMUs in April 2014, with 30 required for the Cheshunt and Chingford routes, 8 for the Gospel Oak to Barking, and 1 for the Romford to Upminster.
So it looks like trains on the Lea Valley Lines will be 4-car, that at times will work in pairs as 8-car units, as they do now!
I don’t think London Overground will mind the two different lengths of trains, as on the Lea Valley Lines, there is no platform length issues and eight-car trains are easily created.
I suppose the only speculation left, is to see who wins the order for the new trains. I gave my fourpennyworth in this post. I still think that it would be better for London Overground to have a one class fleet. But who knows? I certainly don’t!
I’ve now visited a good proportion of the stations on the Lea Valley Lines, that will be handed over to London Overground in May next year.
One factor that is constant across many of the stations is the atrocious stairs. Look at this staircase at Bethnal Green.
It is truly dreadful. Sadly it is not a lone example, but one of many I’ve seen.
- The stairs are steep and rather long.
- There is no second rail.
- There is no middle rail making it a double and much-safer staircase.
- The surface is probably slippery when wet.
As it costs upwards of a million to put in a pair of lifts, many stations that need improving will not get much work done.
The best that can be hoped for, is an innovative and systematic approach that reduces the cost of step-free access.
A Station Totally Inadequate For The Area’s Need – Rating 2/10
Those stairs are a disaster waiting to happen on a match day, especially, when Spurs have built their new stadium.
But if you look at the Tottenham High Road West development plans, all options envisage the station being moved towards the south and connecting it to the new stadium with a wide pedestrian route. Arsenal and Chelsea eat your hearts out!
So I suspect that improvements to the station are on hold, until the stadium is built and all the other plans are sorted.
Incidentally, if the station was to be moved south by a couple of hundred metres, it would appear that the new station might be able to use the same platforms, but accessing them at the other end. So it wouldn’t have the added problem of demolishing houses and businesses to create the station.
One subsidiary advantage of a station here, that can serve Spurs new stadium, is that it would probably be built with full step-free access. So will this take the pressure off the need to make Bruce Grove and Silver Street stations step free, if the bus routes on Tottenham High Road were improved.
I’ve always believed that the poor quality of public transport in this area of Tottenham is a factor in the crime, vandalism and general unrest. Long term residents of Hackney, including a Police Inspector, have told me they believe that the coming of the Overground and the improved buses has quietened things down in that borough and enabled more young people to get to jobs elsewhere.
Not As Bad As Some! – Rating 3/10
Rectory Road station is a quite modern station having been built as recently as 1980.
It’s later date probably accounts for the less formidable steps, which may by the reason, why this station has a quite high usage figure of 800,000 passengers a year, which is only a bit less than Stoke Newington.
So perhaps improving access does increase a station’s footfall!
The Area Deserves Something A Lot Better! – Rating 1/10
Bruce Grove station is very much a minimalist station.
But it is very lacking in facilities and has the obligatory access up and down steep stairs, with no alternative. The stairs are also open to the elements, so must be very safe in high winds and heavy rain.
Add Imagination Here And You Might Get A Station! – Rating 2/10
Stamford Hill station has potential, as estate agents love to say.
Although not as bad as Bethnal Green, that misery station gets twice as many as this one.
The shelter on the Up platform needs reopening, perhaps new window frames could replace the bricks, but the biggest short-term improvement could be made by doing a bit of gardening.
And also, as with many of the stations being taken over by the Overground, the step-free access is the major problem.
It will be interesting to see this particular station two or three years from now! I suspect because of its low number of passengers, not much will have been done except deep cleaning and application of some orange paint and logos.
I was at Abbey Wood station today and took these pictures.
Note the terrible stairs down from the bus stop. Certainly this is a station that shows all the worst design features of the corporate British Rail non-architecture.
If you look at the design for the new Crossrail station, you can see the new footbridge in the images.
So could this footbridge be one of the first pieces of Crossrail infrastructure that passengers will use?