Gospel Oak to Barking (GOBLIN)

Opened: 1981 | Line Length: 13 miles 58 chains (22.1 km) | Number of Stations: 12
Rolling Stock Operated: Bombardier Transportation Class 710 ‘Aventra’ Electric Multiple Units


Stations (interchanges in bold, Out of Station interchanges in italic )

Gospel Oak | Upper Holloway | Crouch Hill | Harringay Green Lanes | South Tottenham |
Blackhorse Road | Walthamstow Queen’s Road | Leyton Midland Road | Leytonstone High Road |
Wanstead Park | Woodgrange Park | Barking

Interchanges/Out of Station Interchanges

Gospel Oak – London Overground North London Line

Upper Holloway – London Underground Northern Line from Archway (0.3miles)

Harringay Green Lanes – National Rail Services from Harringay (0.3miles)

South Tottenham – London Overground Lea Valley Lines & London Underground Victoria Line from Seven Sisters (0.2miles)

Blackhorse Road – London Underground Victoria Line

Walthamstow Queen’s Road – London Overground Lea Valley Lines and London Underground Victoria Line from Walthamstow Central (0.3miles)

Leytonstone High Road – London Underground Central Line from Leytonstone (0.4miles)

Wanstead Park – Elizabeth Line from Forest Gate (0.2miles)

Woodgrange Park – Elizabeth Line from Manor Park (0.3miles)

Barking – London Underground District/Hammersmith & City Line, National Rail Services


History

Although the Gospel Oak to Barking (GOBLIN) Line was opened in its current form in 1981, the history of the line goes back a lot further.

On 21 July 1868, the Tottenham & Hampstead Joint Railway opened a line between Tottenham North Junction (on the Great Eastern Railway) and Highgate Road with services between here and Fenchurch Street (via Tottenham) operated by the GER. However, the service was a commercial failure and ceased operation entirely in January 1870, with the planned extension to Gospel Oak also abandoned. A western extension to Kentish Town on the Midland Mainline was constructed in October 1870 and services were restarted by the Midland Railway, before further extension to Gospel Oak (resurrecting the original plan), was achieved on 4 June 1888.

To the east, the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, a joint enterprise between the Midland Railway and the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway, opened a line between South Tottenham and Woodgrange Park where it joined the existing LTSR line to Barking, and a new curve to East Ham, on 9 July 1894. From the start, passenger services operated by the Midland Railway covered the entire line from Barking and beyond to Gospel Oak.

Following the implementation of the Railways Act 1921, Midland Railway services were amalgamated into the new London, Midland and Scottish Railway from 1 January 1923. At this time, the LMS conducted an audit of its routes and quickly found that the route to Gospel Oak was not profitable. This led to the closure of Gospel Oak and the diversion of all services via the Kentish Town route to St Pancras in 1926. No further changes were made to the route until 1958, when the connection from Woodgrange Park to East Ham was abandoned.

As part of the plans devised by Dr Richard Beeching, the line was proposed for closure in 1963. However, due to the efforts of a local action group, made up of local businesses and residents, the plan never came to fruition and the line remained open. Although the line remained open, it was allowed to fall into a serious state of disrepair and reliability. The 1980s saw the service levels cut back to just 1 train an hour between Kentish Town and Barking, while ticket offices were closed and staff withdrawn.

Following the instigation of works in connection with the new Thameslink services being provided to St Pancras, services along the line to Kentish Town were ceased and a new link was built back along the old route to the current terminus at Gospel Oak in 1981. Operation of services along the route passed to the Network Southeast subsidiary of British Rail in 1987 before becoming part of North London Railways between April 1994 and March 1997. Upon privatisation in 1997, the services on the line passed to Silverlink Trains (part of the National Express Group), until the franchise was abolished under the Railways Act 2005.

From November 2007 operation of the line was assumed by Transport for London under the London Overground brand, which increased services on the line and re-introduced staff to all stations. September 2008 saw the line closed for Network Rail upgrade works, which saw the line capacity increased from 6 to 8 (4 passenger, 4 freight) trains per hour. The increase in passenger services was achieved in January 2011, following the introduction of new Bombardier Transportation Class 172 ‘Turbostar’ diesel multiple units to the line in 2010.

Following the identification of the line as a major strategic rail route, electrification of the entire line was authorised by the Government and conversion/construction works started in June 2016. Following several weekend closures and a full line blockade between October 2016 and February 2017, electrification works were finally completed and the line energised in mid-January 2018, although due to delays in train delivery and commissioning the first Bombardier Transportation Class 710 ‘Aventra’ electric multiple units did not operate in revenue service until 23 May 2019, with full service commencing in August 2019.

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