Southeastern – inspiration for London Overground?

Another day, and as I type, the Southeastern service through Charlton is wrecked thanks to a fire way down the line at Erith, as well as signal problems at London Bridge. I need to get to Covent Garden in a while – that looks like fun. Neither the lack of resilience on the Greenwich line, nor the knackered signals on the way into Charing Cross can really be blamed on Southeastern, but it’s an apt way for the hapless private operator, which has spent most of 2010 hiding from angry passengers, to spend the last weekday before it jacks up fares for many of its users.

I noticed one interesting name in the New Year Honours List – that of Ian Brown. Not that one, but the man who invented London Overground. Congratulations to him on becoming a CBE.

With the backing of Ken Livingstone, the recently-retired TfL executive oversaw the process which led to the crappy old North London Line being prized out of the privatised network, and run on TfL’s behalf by a franchisee instead of the model the rest of London has to endure. Slowly, but surely, the North London Line is getting better; the stations are staffed all the time, the trains have got longer, and 2010 saw the East London Line join the Overground family, much to the delight of the people of Brockley.

Indeed, under Mr Brown, TfL wanted to take charge of the whole London rail network – but was turned down by the Labour government. All it got was the old Silverlink Metro service.

So where did Mr Brown get this crazy idea that London’s rail services were broken and drastic action was needed to fix them? Turns out the answer lies closer to home than you’d think…

Turns out Ian Brown CBE hails from Greenwich. Which means years of struggling with Southeastern, and Connex before it, may well have been the inspiration for London’s whizzy new train set. It’s just a shame that Greenwich doesn’t really get to benefit from an idea which looks like it was dreamt up in SE10.


  1. What a shame he isn’t one of those people who use their middle name. TfL board meetings would be hugely enlivened by a man wearing a flaming helmet.

  2. Southeastern – the first TOC to be given a license to legally mug people.

    They are running a Saturday service today and can’t even get that right. On teh Medway Valley line they don’t even have enough drivers for the trains so what do they do? Bring in standbys? Nope. They close the line and use buses.

    And calls to the ‘customer service’ centre are taken by a drone who has no answers by can pass on a complaint. what good is that?

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