Press Release

Turn South London Orange to Ease Pressure on Suburban Rail

A report released by Centre for London has set out the case for a comprehensive upgrade of south London rail services, as part of the London Overground network.

Turning South London Orange reveals that converting the rail network into the Overground could more than double capacity.

The report points to serious pressures on south London’s transport network, which has eight of the ten busiest bus routes in London and underground stations which account for 77 per cent of all delays due to overcrowding on the tube.

The situation is set to get worse; the report reveals that demand for rail travel in south London will increase 100% by 2050, while the population is expected to grow by 270,000 by 2025.

The report outlines an ambitious package of upgrades to deliver an orange-standard, high-frequency service in south London. Working with Thales to assess what kind of upgrades are required, Centre for London’s recommendations include improved signalling and train management systems, track layout amendments, new trains  and better platform management.

As well as easing demand on tube and rail services, the report shows that converting the rail network into Overground would bring economic benefits by:

  • Supporting the development of 16,000 new homes in South Central London alone.
  • Supporting employment growth: between 2025 and 2035 34,000 new jobs will be created within 1km of potential Overground stations.
  • A higher frequency, higher capacity service will be essential in enabling Londoners to travel to and from these new jobs.

In order to deliver the Overground in south London, the report argues that the Department for Transport should devolve suburban rail services terminating inside or just outside the southern Greater London Authority boundary to Transport for London, as the current franchises expire

Ben Rogers, Director at Centre for London said:

“Population growth is putting the transport infrastructure of London under serious pressure. By 2030 there will be serious rail capacity gap in certain parts of South London”

“Devolving power over suburban lines to London and converting them to Overground, would help close the capacity gap, as well as stimulate major housing development around stations.”

Steve Norris, who chaired the advisory group for Turning South London Orange, said:

“Unlocking the potential to improve rail services south of the Thames can improve millions of journeys. This report is an important step toward that ambition.”

Alan Smith, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham, who sat on the advisory group said:

“The economy of London is driven by its public transport. Improving rail service in south London will unlock the potential of the area and help to keep this city at the forefront of growth.”