London mayor Boris Johnson has officially opened the first section of the £1bn London Overground East London Line, which has been delivered early and on budget.
Transport for London project director Peter Richards said he was “absolutely delighted” that this part of the project - in construction for the past two and a half years - had been completed weeks ahead of schedule.
This section from Dalston Junction in east London to New Cross in the south east of the city is being considered as a “preview running” service for passengers and will feature eight trains an hour .
The next stage from New Cross to West Croydon will start on 23 May, allowing 100,000 passengers a day to travel on 20 Class 378 Electrostar trains. A further 13 trains will join the fleet by 2012.
Richards added that phase two - from Surrey Quays in south east London to Clapham Junction - was still on schedule to be finished by summer 2012, but could not guarantee that it would be open in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, which start in July 2012.
“This is part of our vision of creating an orbital overground rail network in London, and it is a fantastic addition to the London transport system,” said Johnson at the launch at Dalston Junction, which will initially serve as the northern terminus of the line.
Johnson added that it was “absolutely vital to be investing in beautiful transport infrastructure projects [in a recession] because they drive jobs and growth. It is just plain common sense”.
London’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy said: “Not since the (Underground’s) Jubilee line was extended over 10 years ago have we seen such a transformational transport project delivered in London.
“The new East London route has been eagerly awaited by people who live in, work in and visit the areas it serves.”
Besides new stations at Dalston Junction, Haggerston, Hoxton and Shoreditch, completion of the project includes: construction of a new maintenance depot at New Cross Gate, upgrade of the 2.1km long London Underground line to National Rail standards, 3.5km of tracks built between Whitechapel and Dalston Junction, plus the renewal of old bridges and the installation of new ones.
In spring 2011 the line will be extended north of Dalston Junction to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington.