East London Line
|East London Line|
Class 378 train at Whitechapel
|Termini||Highbury & Islington
|Opened||27 April 2010 (preview service)
23 May 2010 (full service)
|Owner||Network Rail and
Transport for London
|Depot(s)||New Cross Gate|
|Rolling stock||Class 378 "Capitalstar"|
|No. of tracks||Double track; sections with four tracks|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC third rail|
The East London Line is a former London Underground line. It has now been incorporated into the London Overground line which runs north to south through the East End, Docklands and South areas of London. No current London railway map refers to this line as 'East London Line'.
Built in 1869 by the East London Railway Company, which reused the Thames Tunnel, originally intended for horse-drawn carriages, the line became part of the London Underground network in 1933. After operating for nearly 75 years as part of the Underground network, the line closed in December 2007 for an extensive refurbishment and expansion project, reopening as part of the Overground network in April 2010. Phase 2, which links the line to the inner South London Line with a terminus at Clapham Junction, opened on 9 December 2012, creating an orbital railway around inner London.
Establishment of the East London Railway
The East London Railway was created by the East London Railway Company, a consortium of six railway companies: the Great Eastern Railway (GER), the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR), the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR), the South Eastern Railway (SER), the Metropolitan Railway, and the Metropolitan District Railway. The latter two operated what are now the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines of the London Underground.
The companies reused the Thames Tunnel, built by Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel between 1825 and 1843. The tunnel was built for horse-drawn carriages with generous headroom and two carriageways separated by arches, though it was only used for pedestrian traffic. It connected Wapping on the north bank of the Thames with Rotherhithe on the south bank. A triumph of civil engineering, it was a commercial failure and by the 1860s it had become an unpleasant and disreputable place.
The tunnel was the most easterly land connection between the north and south banks of the Thames. It was close to London's docks on both banks of the river and was not far from mainline railways at either end. Converting the tunnel to a railway thus offered an ideal means of providing a cross-Thames rail link without having to go to the great expense of boring a new tunnel. On 25 September 1865 the East London Railway Company took ownership of the Thames Tunnel at a cost of £800,000. Over the next four years the company built a railway line running through the tunnel to connect with existing railway lines.
The line opened in stages as financing became available:
- 7 December 1869: Initial line from New Cross Gate (then known as New Cross) to Wapping opened, operated by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR). Intermediate stations were opened at Deptford Road (now Surrey Quays) and Rotherhithe
- 13 March 1871: A spur was opened from just south of what is now Surrey Quays station to the South London Line's Old Kent Road railway station. Passenger services were withdrawn in 1913 and freight last used the line in 1964, the track being removed subsequently. This alignment was restored to passenger service by London Overground in late 2012 (see below)
- 19 April 1876: Wapping to Shoreditch opened, running through a cut-and-cover tunnel constructed in part along the bottom of a now infilled dock. At Shoreditch a connection was made with the Great Eastern Railway to Liverpool Street. Intermediate stations were opened at Shadwell and Whitechapel
- 1 April 1880: A spur to New Cross (South Eastern Railway) opened
- 3 March 1884: A spur linking the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways to the East London Railway opened south of Whitechapel. This enabled Metropolitan Railway and Metropolitan District Railway (District) trains to commence through services to the East London Railway later that year. Although passenger services via this spur ceased in 1941, it was retained to transfer empty trains between the East London Line and the rest of the sub-surface network
The East London Railway Company owned the infrastructure but it was operated by its controlling railways. Steam trains were initially operated by the GER, LB&SCR and the SER. The LB&SCR used their LBSCR A1 Class Terrier locomotives, which William Stroudley designed partly with this line in mind. It carried both passenger and goods trains; the LB&SCR operated between Liverpool Street and Croydon, the SER introducing a service between Addiscombe and Liverpool Street from April 1880 until March 1884. From March to September 1884 the SER service ran from Addiscombe to St Mary's (MR & MDR Joint Station). Metropolitan Railway services from St Mary's to New Cross (SER) and Metropolitan District Railway services from St Mary's to New Cross Gate (LB&SCR) commenced on 1 October 1884. On 6 October through services started from Hammersmith (Hammersmith & City) to New Cross (SER) and from Hammersmith (MDR) to New Cross (LB&SCR).
Before the development of the Kent coalfields in the early part of the 20th century, house coal from the north for distribution in south London and as far afield as Maidstone and Brighton was an important source of revenue. Access at the north end of the line was difficult: trains were limited to 26 wagons and had to be shunted into the Great Eastern's Liverpool Street station and then drawn forward onto the East London line. From October 1900 additional capacity was offered by a wagon lift, carrying two ten-ton wagons, from the Great Eastern coal depot at Spitalfields to a siding on the ELR near Whitechapel station. The surface junction was taken up in 1966 and the lift closed in 1967, after a fire at the Spitalfields depot.
When the Metropolitan District Railway was electrified in 1905 it ceased using the ELR, the last trains running on 31 July 1905; similarly, the Metropolitan Railway suspended its service after 2 December 1906. LB&SCR and GER services continued to run, and SER services recommenced on 3 December 1906.
The line was later electrified, with the controlling railways funding the upgrade and the Metropolitan Railway providing the rolling stock. Electric services began on 31 March 1913 and ran from the two southern termini to Shoreditch and South Kensington via Edgware Road and High Street Kensington. In 1914 the service to South Kensington was diverted to Hammersmith.
The London Underground era
|Ridership||10,702,000 passenger journeys|
|Colour on map||Dark Orange|
|Rolling stock||A Stock|
|Line length||4.6 mi (7.4 km)|
|East London line (pre-conversion)|
In 1933, the East London Railway came under the control of the London Passenger Transport Board. Although the infrastructure was still privately owned, passenger services along the line were operated under the auspices of the "East London Branch" of the Metropolitan Line. In 1948, the railways were nationalised and became part of the newly created British Transport Commission along with the Underground. Goods services continued to use the line until 1962, occasional passenger trains from Liverpool Street until 1966. The short length of track connecting Shoreditch to Liverpool St was removed in 1966. The service to Shoreditch was also reduced, with Whitechapel becoming the northern terminus for much of the time; by the time Shoreditch station closed in 2006, it was open at peak times on weekdays and most of Sundays (for Brick Lane Market), and closed on Saturdays.
Services to and from further west were steadily curtailed during the early part of the Underground era. The service to Hammersmith was reduced to peak hours only in 1936 and was withdrawn altogether in 1941, leaving the East London branch as an isolated appendage on the edge of the Underground network. Its only passenger interchange to the Underground was at Whitechapel, with interchanges to main line trains at the two New Cross stations. In the 1980s and 1990s, the line gained two important new connections: Shadwell became an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway in 1987, and a new station was added at Canada Water in 1999 for interchange with the then new Jubilee Line extension.
The identity of the East London Line changed considerably during the London Underground era. On Tube maps between 1933 and 1968 it was depicted in the same colour as the Metropolitan Line. In 1970, it was renamed the "Metropolitan Line — East London Section", in Metropolitan Line purple with a white stripe down the middle. In the 1980s it was renamed as a line in its own right (though it was still grouped operationally with the Metropolitan Line) and from 1990 the colour on the map changed to orange.
According to TfL, the line carried 10.7 million passengers per year before its temporary closure in 2007.
The East London Line was the only Underground line not to penetrate Travelcard Zone 1. It was the second shortest line (after the Waterloo & City Line), with an end-to-end journey time of 14 minutes. Its length was 9 km (5.6 mi), with nine stations. At the time of its closure in 2007 it ran in a continuous tunnel from Whitechapel to Surrey Quays, with the remainder on the surface or in cutting. Much of the line was built as cut-and-cover. The deepest point is at Wapping station, constructed in the Thames Tunnel's original entrance shaft 18.29 m (60 ft) below the surface.
At time of closure, the line connected with Southeastern mainline services at New Cross and Southern at New Cross Gate. Underground connections were at Canada Water (Jubilee line) and Whitechapel (District and Hammersmith & City Lines). A non-contiguous connection with the Docklands Light Railway was at Shadwell, with a separate DLR station some 50 m (150 ft) away. Although the interchange was via the street, through ticketing was permitted at time of closure in 2007.
A link with the Metropolitan and District lines was made just south of Whitechapel via St Mary's Curve. This has been out of passenger use since 1941 but was still used to transfer rolling stock to and from the Metropolitan line's main depot at Neasden. The curve can easily be seen on the northbound and eastbound approaches to Whitechapel station, although a temporary wall was built across the line in January 2008, close to the junction with the District line.
Most of the line was double-tracked, with Shoreditch station and the final sections into the southern termini single-tracked, the latter because of lack of space. This required trains to alternate between the two southern termini.
The East London Line used Metropolitan Line A60 and A62 sub-surface rolling stock built by Cravens of Sheffield in two batches between 1960 and 1962. It was upgraded in 1994 with improved suspension, lighting, heating and ventilation. The rolling stock was regularly interchanged with that used on the main Metropolitan line and usually carried both East London and Metropolitan line maps. However, the trains used on the ELL were always double-ended four-car units. (This means that there was a fully operational driving cab at each end, unlike the Metropolitan line trains that, aside from the Chesham shuttle, run as eight-car trains with no o.p.o. facilities in the middle cabs, making them effectively single-ended units for service work. The trains operating on the Metropolitan main line were mostly two single-ended units coupled together with fully operational driving cabs at each end. Therefore the Met. could use any ELL trains, but the ELL could use only the double-ended units converted for its use.)
Seven four-car trains operated the line (six off-peak, seven during peak hours when Shoreditch was open). During off-peak times, train 7 became the spare. The line operated some of the shortest trains on the network, necessitated by short platforms. The small number of trains made the line particularly sensitive to disruption caused by vandalism, train faults or staff shortages. Sometimes in the early 2000s only two trains were running. The withdrawal of a single train amounted to a 17% cut in capacity — the Metropolitan line would have to lose nine trains to suffer the same percentage cut. Trains were operated by just a driver: the decision to withdraw the guards prompted an unsuccessful strike by the National Union of Railwaymen in May 1985.
Light maintenance and stabling took place at a small depot near New Cross, with heavier work at the main Metropolitan line depot at Neasden. Between 1985 and 1987, D78 stock operated the line before being replaced by A60 and A62 stock. During the 1970s the line was operated by 1938 Tube stock.
The stations in operation during most of the London Underground era in order from north to south were as follows:
|Station||Opened||First Underground service||Notes|
|Shoreditch||10 April 1876||31 March 1913||Closed on 9 June 2006, prior to whole line's temporary closure for conversion to Overground.|
|Whitechapel||10 April 1876||31 March 1913||Interchange with District and Hammersmith & City Lines.|
|Shadwell||10 April 1876||1 October 1884||Interchange with Docklands Light Railway.|
|Wapping||7 December 1869||1 October 1884|
|Rotherhithe||7 December 1869||1 October 1884|
|Canada Water||17 September 1999||17 September 1999||Interchange with Jubilee Line.|
|Surrey Quays||7 December 1869||1 October 1884||Station was opened as Deptford Road, renamed Surrey Docks in 1911, and again renamed in 1989.|
|New Cross Gate||7 December 1869||1 October 1884||Interchange with Southern mainline services. Mainline station was opened as New Cross in 1839, and renamed in 1923.|
|New Cross||1 April 1880||1 October 1884||Interchange with Southeastern mainline services. Mainline station was opened in 1850.|
Conversion to Overground rail operation
Engineering work on the East London line extension started in 2005 and the existing underground service ended in December 2007.
In 2007 London Buses route ELW Whitechapel - Shadwell - Wapping was introduced, operating every 10 minutes, or every 15 minutes at evenings and weekends. It was operated with route-branded single-deck buses. Starting on 23 December 2007 it was extended from Whitechapel to Shoreditch (Monday-Friday 0700-1030 & 1530-2030, Sunday 0700-1530) from 19 July 2008. The frequency of the route was cut to four buses per hour in September 2009. It was reduced to weekends-only from 28 April 2010, and withdrawn on 9 May 2010.
Between 2006 and May 2008 a number of other rail replacement buses were provided. Route ELS Whitechapel - Shoreditch (Monday-Friday 0700-1030 & 1530-2030, Sunday 0700-1530 commenced 10 June 2006 and was withdrawn on 19 July 2008. It was replaced by a peak-hour extension of route ELW.
London Buses route ELC New Cross Gate - New Cross - Surrey Quays - Canada Water (Monday-Friday every 5–10 minutes, weekends every 15 minutes) started on 23 December 2007. It was withdrawn on 25 September 2009 following a 40% drop in passenger numbers. Transport for London estimated that this saved around £1 million over the period to June 2010.
London Buses route ELP Canada Water - Rotherhithe (every 15 minutes) began on 23 December 2007 and was withdrawn on 24 February 2008 due to lack of use: tickets were valid between Bermondsey and Canada Water on standard route 381.
Unlike the previous East London Line closure, no replacement bus service was provided across the River Thames through the Rotherhithe Tunnel. London Transport was concerned that demand would be so high and buses would be so small that the frequency could have to be one bus every 30 seconds. There was also an issue that the Rotherhithe Tunnel is restricted to vehicles with a width no more than 7'0", which had been employed on previous occasions. However by 2007 no such vehicles were commercially available which were low-floor compliant, the only ones which suited this width, as previously used, were minibuses with higher floors. As bus policy by this time was 100% low floor, it meant that no such service at all could be provided any longer.
Once construction was completed, a limited train service was introduced on 27 April 2010 and full service began on 23 May 2010.
East London Line extension
The former underground line was extended northwards from Whitechapel, with new stations at Shoreditch High Street, Hoxton, Haggerston and Dalston Junction using 3.6 km of new trackbed between Whitechapel and the Broad Street viaduct and existing disused trackbeds for most of the distance. A further extension to Highbury & Islington was opened in February 2011.
It was also extended south to connect to the London Bridge arm of the Brighton Main Line, linked via a northbound flyover north of New Cross Gate. Other than the new flyover and some associated works around New Cross Gate, it uses almost entirely existing tracks, with services running south to West Croydon via Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Penge West, Crystal Palace (by way of a branch), Anerley and Norwood Junction. No new stations have been constructed on this section.
The official opening of most of phase 1 of the East London line extension took place on 23 May 2010. Use of the line is forecast to increase from the previous 10.4 million passengers per year to 35.4 million, and to 50 million when phase 2 is finished. Transport for London acquired 23 new four-car Class 378 Bombardier Capitalstar electric multiple units to operate on the line. Unlike the dual-voltage 378s operating on the North and West London Lines, the East London Line units can only receive power from the third rail electrification, although, like all modern EMUs, they have the potential to be retro-fitted.
The existing track and the northern extension remain under TfL ownership, and the stations from Dalston Junction to Surrey Quays are part of the London Overground network. The extension runs northwards from Whitechapel to Dalston Junction, and south to Crystal Palace and West Croydon.
Highbury & Islington extension
East London Line Extension phase 2
The line has been extended northwards to Highbury & Islington. The extension opened on 28 February 2011, two months earlier than previously announced, with 8 trains per hour during most of the day. The first train, running with the headcode 9A20, was the 09:55 Highbury & Islington - Crystal Palace which departed on time from platform 2 and was formed of a four-car class 378 unit.
East London line extension phase 2
A further 6.76 mile link opened in 2012 as part of the East London line extension. It runs from south of Surrey Quays via the Network Rail Inner South London Line to Clapham Junction, by way of Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road. A new station at Surrey Canal Road was also planned, but this was put on hold in 2009, though a suitable 'box' is being provided as part of the existing works, to facilitate later possible implementation. The service from Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington commenced on 9 December 2012.
The extension uses an alignment between Surrey Quays and Queens Road Peckham stations which had not seen passenger services since 1913 and had been disused altogether since 1964. The "new" section diverges from the East London Line south of Surrey Quays station and joins the Inner South London Line just north of the defunct Old Kent Road station. The route skirts the Bridgehouse Meadows public open space; this was used as the construction site, but was restored to public use after completion. The former pedestrian bridge and support piers over Surrey Canal Road were demolished, as a precursor to building the railway bridge; Surrey Canal Road was lowered to allow the railway to cross at a suitable height.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: East London Line|
- "Dalston Junction to West Croydon". Transport for London. 23 May 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- "East London Line officially opened by Boris Johnson". BBC News Online (London). 27 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Clarke, Megan (21 April 2010). "Party Time for East London Line". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- Even though this would more correctly be 2 for the ELL and a further 2 for the North London Line
- "East London Line alternative transport strategy update". London Underground. 27 November 2006. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2006.
- East London line facts, Transport for London.
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- "Railway And Other Companies, East London". The Times (London). 2 September 1869.
- Rose, Douglas (December 2007) . The London Underground: A Diagrammatic History (8th ed.). Harrow Weald: Capital Transport. ISBN 978-1-85414-315-0.
- Gordon, W.J. (1910). Our Home Railways (volume one). London: Frederick Warne. p. 153.
- Klapper, Charles (1976). London's Lost Railways. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. 94–98. ISBN 0-7100-8378-5.
- "Illegal subway strike called off in London". Globe & Mail (Toronto). 21 May 1985.
- "All change on the East London line", BBC London.
- Route ELW, londonbusroutes.net
- "Changes to East London line replacement buses" (Press release). Transport for London. 21 September 2009.
- The London Assembly: Bus cuts
- "Full service begins on newly extended East London Line". BBC News Online (London). 23 May 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Crerar, Pippa (27 April 2010). "East London line's opening puts Hackney on rail map". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- "London takes over responsibility for building East London line extension" (Press release). Greater London Authority. 16 November 2004.
- London Overground signs standard.
- "Highbury & Islington extension in May 2011". Transport for London.
- McKenna, John (12 February 2009). "East London Line extension to Clapham to be built by London 2012". New Civil Engineer. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
- "Outer London rail orbital opens for passengers". BBC. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
Various sources have been used in the creation of this article, including the external links above, email conversations with the ELL Project Team and emails from the ELL Project Team update newsletter.