End in sight for long-running line closure, reports James Cracknell
Work to electrify one of Waltham Forest’s key commuter routes is making steady progress, according to Network Rail.
The Gospel Oak to Barking line, sometimes dubbed ‘Goblin’, is currently closed to all London Overground services, making life difficult for passengers who have previously used Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow Queens Road, Leyton Midland Road, and Leytonstone High Road stations.
The Gospel Oak to Barking electrification project is costing £133million but will eventually enable longer trains to use the line, doubling its capacity.
It is due to reopen in February next year, although longer trains will not be put into service until mid-2018. In an update on the project’s progress at the end of November, Network Rail said a “key milestone” had been reached; all five track-lowering sections required to make space for new overhead infrastructure have been completed.
The longest track lowering section runs for 1,700 metres through the centre of Walthamstow from Pretoria Avenue to Queens Road. The need for this extensive civil engineering work sets the project apart from other electrification schemes and has added to its cost and complexity.
Tim Galvani, senior project manager said: “I live in Walthamstow and understand how important this route is to the local community.
“Electrification will enable longer, greener and quieter trains to run from 2018 as part of Network Rail’s wider Railway Upgrade Plan.
“Unfortunately the nature of the work has been noisy. I’d like to thank everyone for their continued patience.”
Lowering the track in Walthamstow necessitated the eight-month closure of the eastern section of the route. Walthamstow Queens Road Station had to be entirely lowered; including platforms, ramps and stairs.
Passengers in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone have been forced to use rail replacement bus services, or other rail routes, since June.