London Overground's night trains extending to Highbury & Islington next week


Continuing the Night Trains conversation:


Fingers crossed it can get extended to West Croydon or Crystal Palace soon :crossed_fingers:


Drivers also only discovered the news yesterday from media reports. :joy::joy::joy:

Ross, as TfL own the infrastructure from Dalston to New Cross Gate, that’s why it’s only on that section currently. Network Rail own the infrastructure from Dalston to Highbury but East London Line exclusively use that part so no issues. Delay in introduction to Highbury was due to the bridge works at Highbury Corner.

Extension beyond New Cross Gate is incredibly unlikely for some time and there are no plans for the foreseeable future.


Would be interested in a bit more insight on this. I realise that this is the official line but am now wondering whether the root cause is purely political, e.g. Network Rail & TfL at loggerheads.

If the Overground were to operate at night, it strikes me that these would be the only trains, bar for track maintenance, that would use the slow lines at that time (or does freight run on the slow lines?). There would be, for sure, some weekends when maintenance precluded use of all the lines but how is that different from the weekends of no service we get currently?


I’m chuckling slightly over the first line and last line of your post.

Agreed though that while NR own the track, it’s unlikely.

So… have we figured out the best routes from New Cross if we do want to use the Night Tube?


Frankly I’m less than excited by this.
We really need a direct bus route twixt forest Hill Station and New Cross and Canada Water stations.
That way when the Overground goes T**ts up (which it occasionally does at our end) we at least have another way to connect to the jubilee line and get into town.


You’re right - although I guess the argument against a daytime route would be around who would take it when the Overground was running. And I’m not sure what the obvious route would be - via Lewisham or via Peckham is still non-direct - once you get past Brenchley Gardens you’re pretty much on relatively narrow suburban roads where I imagine you’d find more residents against running buses along them than for it.

For now, I’m on any bus towards Peckham and swap to a N63. Just about OK if you’re at this end of FH, but harder if not.


There are a lot of houses that run adjacent to the line south of New Cross including in Forest Hill most of Devonshire Rd and a bit of Stanstead Rd. I’m pretty sure those residents would rather not have trains running all through the night!


I got turfed off the train at NewCross Gate one night last week. Ordered an Uber. It was there in less than five minutes, cost me just under £9. If I was having a night out on the town, I’d be happy to factor in a tenner for an Uber for the last leg.


From New Cross, 171/N171 takes you to the Honor Oak pub on Brockley Rise/South Circular (also 172 to . midnight to Chandos for those at HOP). Or the 176 is a day/night from Waterloo Station to F Hill. None of this as convenient of course as a train to HOP/F Hill.


A 171 or 172 from New Cross Gate will get you to the S circular \ junction with Brockley Rise for the 171, the 172 will take you to outside Querce Restaurant. For those in Honor Oak this is pretty good, and the 171 is a night bus also. The P12 also goes from Surrey Keys during the day though it’s pretty slow from what I remember of the one journey I did on it, but you can easily walk to Canada Water from there.

So a 171 is not quite from Forest Hill Station, but you can get a 185 down to the junction with Brockley Rise or walk down and 171s are fairly regular.


The P12 goes to Surrey Quays and Canada Water too. Yes it is slow but can be useful when the Overground goes offline.


Would be interested in a bit more insight on this. I realise that this is the official line but am now wondering whether the root cause is purely political, e.g. Network Rail & TfL at loggerheads.

It’s not polticical, it’s more of a business orientated approach. Network Rail own all the rail infrastructure in UK, maintain it and employ signallers to run trains over the network. Train Operating Companies and Freight operators pay NR “track access” fees to run each individual carriage over the line. Then next comes train planning. Each booked train is given a slot, or a “path”. These cost money too. These have to be negotiated with other operators that use the line and Network Rail to ensure there’s no conflicts.

Maintenance wise, there’s always something being done, whether it closes the line or not. The volume of rail traffic on the lines south of New Cross Gate is quite high and so I think NR won’t give up their “free time” lightly. The layout of the lines also makes it impossible to close two and use the other two. Other places where trains run throughout the night (GWR to Reading etc), have the benefit of being aligned in the following way:

Up Fast | Down Fast | Up Slow | Down Slow

South of New Cross Gate they are as follows:

Up Slow | Up Fast | Down Fast | Down Slow

So you can’t pair them off, otherwise you’ll end up with a service with no station stops. Now theoretically if they were to do it, you’d have to have a separate service using the Fast lines from New Cross Gate, as there’s no connection from East London Line over to the fast line once you leave NXG. Therefore having to change at NXG just to get on a train that can only run fast to Sydenham and up to Crystal Palace, or to Norwood Junction and West Croydon. Coming back northbound, you can start at West Croydon and stop at Norwood Junction and then run fast to NXG. Also Crystal Palace and then straight on to the fast line before Sydenham. There is then no points to take you back over on to the slow line until after New Cross Gate, which is after the East London Line flyover. So again, you’d have to change back on to another train to continue the journey.

Then there’s the cost aspect. Perhaps if the ridership after a while makes a good business case for it then they might find a way, but for now the cons outweigh the pros!

As I’ve said elsewhere, if it was easy to do with Network Rail to sort out extending south of New Cross Gate, the rest of the London Overground network would be running 24 hours on weekends too :wink: !


Thank you for the very detailed and helpful explanation. So the way I understand it from your description, they have to close all four tracks at the same time do any work, which presumable is also the reason why so often there are no trains running at weekends.

Now normally not many trains should be running at night (at least last time I’ve checked) so I get why they would close all the lines to do some works then. But a few trains do actually run to the airport at night and with London Bridge station being finished the Thameslink trains would be starting to use the same lines during the night - so presumably they can’t shut them. I can’t see a reason why, if the lines have to be open anyway, Overground couldn’t run a few services at the same time, at least to Crystal Palace.


When there are full line closures south of New Cross Gate, Thameslink run via South Bermondsey, East Dulwich, Crystal Palace and then rejoin the line at Norwood Junction. London Overground don’t have that luxury :stuck_out_tongue:


Makes sense, but are there any reasons why they couldn’t run at least when there aren’t such closures? Surely these don’t happen every weekend.

Also, presumably in theory they could still use the alternative route you’ve described, because there are already Overground trains through Peckham Rye, they would just have to turn left. :stuck_out_tongue:
Of course, that would not be of much use to us in SE23.


They do actually. Mostly the lines are in a possession by Network Rail from about 0110-0450 every night, with traction current isolated. It’s the larger works that take up an entire day that close a line for a weekend normally though. Remember, just because you can’t see something happening, doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

In theory yes, there’s so much possibility. In practice though it’s trickier. For the example above, they’d only do that if we actually travelled that way normally. You wouldn’t be able to stop at any intermediate stations as they’re not managed by London Overground and they certainly wouldn’t pay Southern’s station staff to keep them open. So running fast and not stopping at at London Overground managed stations or running via Peckham and East Dulwich and not stopping at any of them until Crystal Palace? Makes more sense to just not run it at all.

I’ll say that London Overground will start running to Sutton before extending the Night Overground south of New Cross Gate :joy:


Back in the good old days, before the lines got very busy, they used to run a service in one direction only, leaving three other lines closed at weekends for engineering works.

I remember going via London Bridge on a train from Norwood Junction and returning to Forest Hill on the same train in the 90s. This meant they didn’t have to run those pesky replacement buses.

Obviously this isn’t an option for London Overground.


That has happened in the last couple of years, I think it was mentioned on here in a topic. People were confused as there was no Southbound service at all with only northbound Southern trains operating via Forest Hill.


I long for the day that we get a night train service to Crystal Palace, but what I think is more pressing is the ridiculous service London Overground is insisting on running to New Cross - what is the point? Last night I along with about 1,000 other commuters were stood waiting for trains at Canada Water at peak evening rush hour. The New Cross service trundles in and I counted a total of eight people sat in an entire carriage. No one got on or off at Canada Water. These 40 or so people using this service seem to get almost executive style commuting on a daily basis! When will the Overground review this? Surely it needs closing in favour of an additional train to Crystal Palace/West Croydon, or even arguably to Clapham Junction…