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Beleaguered Barking to Gospel Oak line to reopen

The Barking to Gospel Oak railway is to fully reopen after work to electrify the line was beset by cost escalations, design issues and delays.

The newly electrified 22.4km long section of track between Barking and Gospel Oak in north west London will open on Monday 15 January allowing new, longer electric trains to run on the line from the spring.

In preparation for the new trains, testing of the new overhead lines will take place over the next few months. This will be carried out in-between normal services and at night avoiding passenger disruption Network Rail said.

The work to electrify the line has been plagued by issues. Design faults on structures supporting the overhead lines, meant they could not be installed and late delivery of materials resulted in delays on site. The line also faced a lengthy closure as well as additional weekend closures and as a result costs spiralled from £132.2M to £171.9M.

In August last year, Network Rail said it would share the lessons learnt from a review into what went wrong to improve the way it worked on future projects. The additional funding for the project is being found through efficiencies across Network Rail’s project portfolio it said.

When the line opens trains are due to run every 15 minutes throughout the day and every 20 minutes after 10pm. However, the existing two car diesel trains will be used until the new four car electric trains are tested and drivers have been trained said Network Rail.

Network Rail route managing director for Anglia Meliha Duymaz said: “Passengers travelling on the Gospel Oak to Barking line are set to benefit from a transformational, once in a generation upgrade with a new fleet of longer, electric trains so that twice as many people can travel comfortably, once line testing is complete.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to our railway neighbours and passengers for their enormous patience and understanding while we worked to improve this busy London route.”

Following the opening, a further closure for London Overground services is scheduled for the 7 and 8 of April for improvement works on Crouch Hill Bridge which crosses the line.

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