London’s railway network was extended once again on 18 July when trains began serving Barking Riverside, earlier than originally expected. The official launch planned for that day was delayed until 25 July due to the extreme heat experienced in the capital.
The line has been extended by 2.1 miles from Barking, with London Overground trains operating from Gospel Oak.
This extension is seen as a vital part of the Barking Riverside development being delivered by Barking Riverside Limited, which is a joint venture between housing association L&Q and the Mayor of London. This 178-hectare brownfield site on the northern bank of the River Thames is set to become one of the capital’s fastest growing areas.
The development is founded on an ambitious vision to create a new community, with the plan being to transform a 443-acre former industrial site into a new London district. This has been co-created in close partnership with existing residents and the area is growing to become a vibrant neighbourhood of more than 10,000 homes (of which 3,000 have either been built or are under construction), commercial and leisure space. New schools and healthcare facilities are being constructed and there will also be public open spaces and riverside walks.
The station is currently in the middle of a barren landscape, however that is being redeveloped into the Barking Riverside development. The facility is a five-minute walk from the riverside. The new line is designed to complement the existing comprehensive bus network but provides a much faster direct service to Barking. Journey times take seven minutes by train instead of the previous 25 minutes by bus. Four trains per hour, operated by recently built Class 710 electric multiple units, now serve the new step-free station built in the heart of the Barking Riverside development. At Barking there are interchange possibilities with the District and Hammersmith and City lines, and c2c main line services towards the Essex coast.
Further along the Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside route passengers can also interchange with the Elizabeth line at Forest Gate, which is a short walk from Wanstead Park London Overground station.
The project has also involved reconfiguring Network Rail’s Ripple Lane goods yard so that the extension can connect to the Tilbury Loop. A viaduct was built over the yard with its foundations constructed between tunnels on HS1. The viaduct, more than a mile long, continues over Renwick Road and into the heart of the new development.
It was only in mid-June that Transport for London was able to confirm that the new LO route would begin carrying passengers “this summer” before confirming the opening date on 11 July. The improved timescale is thanks to good progress made in the completion of the station commissioning and testing stages.
In his report dated 8 June, TfL commissioner Andy Byford wrote that the delivery of the rail systems and station physical works was “now largely complete.”
In that same report he stated that testing of the Barking Riverside station was entering its final stages while all signalling and overhead line electrification work was completed on 10 April, which meant electric multiple units could run on the railway.
LO has been a major success for TfL since it began operating and has quickly expanded to new destinations across London. Barking Riverside is very much set to follow previous schemes.