Overground commute - Masks/Social Distancing

Hi All,

First of all I hope you are safe and well.

I am considering moving to Forest Hill within the next few weeks and it would mean sometimes having to get the overground into East London.

From some personal experiences, how busy has it been around the mid mornings and late afternoons and early evenings and are people adhering to social distance/mask wearing rules on platform and onboard?

With many thanks and best wishes


Until last month I was using the Overground to go work a couple of days a week.

I found that at “rush hour” mask wearing was good. Trains did get a bit busy by New Cross Gate (busy = all seats taken) but it emptied out at Canada Water.

I assume with the newer restrictions it will be emptier.


Sadly the few times I got it later in the evening mask wearing dropped off a bit. But that seems to be a common problem across all public transport modes.


Hi @HannahM,

Thank you for the reply, appreciated.

Was there enough room to stand with a reasonable amount of space/distance? I am not so concerned with seating, would prefer to stand with a reasonable amount of space.

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In my experience yes. I was travelling between 8am and 9am and then 6pm and 7pm. You do need to keep alert as some people forget themselves but there is always enough room to move away.

The trains here are nothing like they were before the pandemic.

I am currently on the train to London Bridge. There are 5 people in my carriage.


Okay, thank you @HannahM! Again, really appreciated!


Yes there’s been tons of room and 95% of people are wearing the masks, even at busy times. I got the train late (ish) last night, when everyone was obviously on the way home from final visits to pubs/bars before lockdown II, and everyone was masked up, even those who’d clearly been drinking. Largely well-behaved.


@Fran_487 Thank you, Fran!

Is that on the East London Line (overground)?

That is reassuring :slight_smile:

Yep, I’ve been going into the office in Shoreditch on the Overground once a week since the summer, and occasionally taking the Southern train in evenings and at weekends.

I find generally that Southern evening trains are the worst for people not wearing masks, I guess because the seating arrangements mean people feel they can get away with it.

Interestingly from my window by the station I could see that the platforms were not quite ‘busy’, but not as silent as I expected them to be this morning on lockdown day 1. But again everyone seemed to be masked up.


@Fran_487 It would only be the overground really! I cannot see an occasion for the foreseeable future that I would need to get Southern.

I just primarily want to be able to get it and feel that I am still safe enough to go and visit family (when possible and allowed of course), I will be living on my own, so the only risk then becomes the overground as I have been previously biking in North London :slight_smile:

Again, I appreciate your words, really!


I use the Overground and Southern daily and I find the Overground varies largely depending on the luck of the draw the percentage of people adhering to mask wearing and social distancing.
Most days there is enough room (at 10am) to socially distance on the train about 80-90% of people wearing masks although pretty often with nose uncovered.
Social distancing goes out the window at the Canada water interchange however with people crowding the doors to get off and streaming onto the escalator.
If you dont change there you’re fine. Train will empty out further at that point.
However there was a day last week when there must have been delays earlier because my 10am train was busy when I got on and I sat down in a section where most were masked with the exception of one man who had mask on his chin but lifted it when I politely asked him to do so-however at Honor Oak a group of 4 youths got on and sat in my section none of them masked and they sat next to and opposite me-I had to walk most of the length of the train to find a carriage where everyone had a mask on.
But as I said that was a particularly busy morning for some reason.


During weekdays, after “rush hour”, it’s not too bad. Rush hour has changed a lot, busiest times are now before 0730. As others have said, it’s probably about 95% mask wearing at the moment. I’ve seen a few times Travel Safe Officers at various points checking mask usage and carrying disposable ones to give to those that don’t have any.

Trains from Crystal Palace will always be quieter than trains from West Croydon. People going to Canada Water or Shoreditch usually bunch up in the first couple carriages. However, people getting on at Crystal Palace and Sydenham usually stay around the rear, so at the moment (due to Canada Water’s one way system), usually able to get seats in middle coaches.

Forest Hill, most get on around first 3 coaches, late comers running for the train go in the fourth.
Honor Oak, mostly last 3.
Brockley first 2.
New Cross Gate mostly last 3 coaches.
Surrey Quays currently 1, 2 or 3.
Canada Water it empties out a lot. If you couldn’t get a seat before, you will get one now no problem.
Rotherhithe, few leave from front couple of coaches.
Wapping, pretty much a few from last coach alight.
Shadwell, mostly last coach, but generally quite spread out.
Whitechapel, usually last couple of coaches people leave from, but again, sometimes spread out.
Shoreditch, mostly first and second people will leave from.
If you haven’t got a seat by now it’d be surprising :stuck_out_tongue:

Going in other direction, it’s pretty everyone getting on first two coaches at Highbury and Canonbury. Dalston quite a lot get off from all coaches but a few get on in rear but move forward. Haggerston & Hoxton, usually first 2. Shoreditch a lot get off, and mostly front few coaches get most people. Whitechapel a lot leave, a fair amount will get on first coach, but will leave at Shadwell. First 2 at Wapping will see people get on, Rotherhithe is more coach 4, Canada Water is mostly coach 3 (closest to stairs at NXG) and first door of coach 1 (closest to stairs at Surrey Quays). At Surrey Quays, most people get off first and second coach. At New Cross Gate, a few using lift will leave first coach, and most will depart from third. Brockley, mostly first 2 coaches, Honor Oak is first. Forest Hill most leave from rear coach. Sydenham is mostly third. Crystal Palace and Croydon trains have it busier in front coach anyway,

There were a couple of days last week with suspensions beyond NXG, one with no service on LO until approx 0930 so was probably that day.



Thank you so much for this, such a detailed and helpful reply! Really very kind, thank you :slight_smile:

I think I would usually be catching it around 11am and back again about 6 or 7pm, although not very regularly. So from your experience do you think I would be okay social distance wise? Would prefer to avoid crowding If possible, especially as my aim is to move to a studio in SE23 to be able to isolate more and eventually see family out of London.

Again, thank you so much for this reply, really so very kind!


And thank you all for your kind replies, my experience of this forum has been very positive, everyone is so helpful and friendly, really nice to see.


Enjoy living in FH.
And I think around the time of your commute you’ll be fine-coming home may be busier
but luckily the trains are long enough that you should be able to walk along and find a section of carriage thats relatively empty.
We moved her 9 years ago having lived my entire life in west and south west london and I must say I’ve never known nicer neighbours or a more community minded place than we have in SE23.