Since Overground primarily serves neighborhoods in London’s outer reaches and is a much more recent addition to London Transport, it is undoubtedly less-familiar to visitors than the Underground. Yet, Overground is a boon for the railway enthusiast, since it connects a variety of interesting railway hubs and junctions.
Overground services are fully integrated with other elements of London Transport, and there are many places allowing cross platform transfers to Underground and Network Rail services, as well as connections to buses and the Docklands Light Railway. Overground is open to holders of Day Travel Cards, Oyster Cards and other urban fares.
On the down side, many Overground stations suffer from austere, utilitarian, and otherwise uninspired architecture (if the term can be applied to the line’s platforms and shelters). Yet, I found the services well run, and stations and trains clean and easy places to make photographs.
London’s Overground system provides a regular-interval rapid transit service on various radial railway routes. These routes utilize a mix of Network Rail mainlines, new specialized Overground lines, and lines converted from former Underground lines. Over much of its network, Overground services share tracks with franchise long-distance passenger train operators, freight services, and in a few places with Underground trains.
Recently, Overground completed an outer orbital ring. This allows passengers to make a complete circle around London (albeit requiring a couple train changes). Since this circle intersects several significant freight lines, I found it useful for studying and photographing freight trains in the London area.
Overground provides an easy link from popular places to photograph freights such as Kensington-Olympia, Wandsworth Road, and a variety of stations on the North London line. My experience on this most recent trip produced mixed results.
Since, Overground services have been much expanded since my last visit, I focused my efforts on riding and photographing routes that not previously experienced while re-exploring places I hadn’t visited in several years. As result, I wasn’t as patient waiting for freights to pass. While I saw many freights from the windows of Overground trains, I made only a few successful images of freight movements.
My time in London was limited and I had variety of social and business engagements. Also, I visited a variety of London’s museums, pubs, and other attractions. Yet, I made good use of my time on the Overground. These are images are just a few of my results. Check London Overground—Part 2 for more views.
Perhaps London’s most impressive railway backdrop is the disused Battersea Park Power Station. It is among London’s industrial icons and famous for its portrayal on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977-album Animals.
This location was recommended to me from veterans of railway photography and I first photographed here in the year 2000. The vantage point is from the lightly used suburban station at Wandsworth Road. Until recently, this was served by a loop service connecting London Victoria and London Bridge terminals. Now, the Overground rail network (subject of a future post) serves Wandsworth road.
Trains stop here every 15 minutes on the run between Clapham Junction and Highbury&Islington stations.
Several lines converge at Wandsworth Road, and in addition to continual parade of suburban trains are a variety of freight moves. Until a few years ago, Eurostar high-speed trains passed on their way to and from Waterloo International. Now, Eurostar serves St. Pancras and take a different route through London.
I made these images only an hour or so after landing at Heathrow. As I waited for trains, helicopters were circling as result of on-going funeral proceedings for Margaret Thatcher. Battersea closed as a generating station in 1983; ironic, isn’t it?