Home Estate Planning Explainer-in-brief: An overhaul for the overground sparks outrage

Explainer-in-brief: An overhaul for the overground sparks outrage

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New names have been announced for the London Overground and people are mad about it. Why, asks Lucy Kenningham

Last week’s revelation that Transport for London’s overground “orange spaghetti” lines had been granted names – Windrush, Lioness, Weaver, Suffragette, Mildmay and Liberty – sparked a heck of a hoohaa.

Many, including your explainer-in-chief, took umbrage at the fact that TfL’s reasoning for the naming project included “encouraging use” of the services. Yet anyone who lives on stops along the Windrush line, whether it’s Wapping or Brockley, will know that the overground is so often “shut for maintenance” on weekends that you’d have to be delusional with optimism to rely on it.

For instance, this very weekend there was no service whatsoever on the overground between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction; Gospel Oak and Richmond; Hackney Downs and Enfield Town; nor between Euston and Watford Junction or between Romford and Upminster. This is significant disruption – and it will continue according to TfL’s six-month overview disruption schedule which does not deign to give a reason for the closures.

What’s in a name? £6.3m, apparently

Others resent the names, finding “Lioness” patronising, “Liberty” too American, and “Weaver” just weird. Still others can only find fault in the colour scheme – the Overground will lose its trademark orange (or “ginger”, allegedly) and instead be replaced with a bunch of boring colours, like red and blue.

Yet the £6.3m renaming project is underway: most of the colossal cost will go on updating customer information, revamping maps and updating over 6,000 station signs. This overhaul is set to happen over a week in the autumn.

City Hall Conservatives predictably slammed the Sadiq-Khan-led initiative. They said the ‘excessive’ funds used in the scheme should have been saved by using a corporate partner, rather like the Santander bikes or the ‘IFS Cloud Cable Cars’.

Susan Hall, Tory mayoral candidate, spared no time twisting the announcement to dig into the mayor’s supposed egotism, which has emerged as her preferred putdown of his personality. “The only surprise is that he hasn’t named one of them the Sadiq line.”

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