The rail franchise shuffle is underway as I type. Web pages are disappearing and familiar addresses rerouting to new sites. The last trains are making their journeys. Farewell to Silverlink, Virgin Cross Country, Central Trains and Midland Mainline; hello to London Midland, Cross Country Trains, East Midlands Trains and (most pertinent to this post) London Overground.
London Overground isn't a train operating company on the pattern established in the UK since privatisation, but the name under which Transport for London will operate (through a contractor) the former Silverlink Metro routes in London from tomorrow, and the extended East London Line, which will no longer be a detached part of London Underground but run onto the North London Line at Dalston and over routes currently served by Southern south of New Cross Gate. As part of this arrangement London Overground routes will be added to the 'Tube Map' tomorrow. The pedant in me wants to remind people that not all London Underground services are, in fact, tube railways, but I think most people reading this will know that, and 'Tube Map' is how Transport for London currently brand the diagram.
The North London Line has appeared on the diagram in most versions since the late 1970s, but it is now being joined by the West London Line (Willesden Junction-Clapham Junction), the Watford Junction-Euston line, and the Gospel Oak-Barking line, all of which will be identified by the new double orange stripe. The addition of so many services to the map has become the subject of controversy, and was picked up on the first instalment of Radio 4's iPM
programme this afternoon. The new map was leaked earlier in the week and can be downloaded here
I see the point some of the critics are making, but I still find it easy to follow, apart from a few minor annoyances - I'm not sure whether the junction of the West London and North London lines at Willesden Junction is intended to show through running from both eastwards towards Stratford (as occasionally happens) or not. It's good to see Watford Junction and the other stations north of Harrow and Wealdstone back on the plan, however. Tube enthusiast Alex Gollner has proposed an alternative here
which I like a bit more than the Transport for London version; though beware, it includes some aspirations unlikely to be fulfilled in the near future alongside definite plans for 2012. What do people think, particular regular London travellers?edited
to replace 'New Cross' with 'New Cross Gate'.