diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Orangewatch (3) The golden brand
By any recognised measure, the first ten years of the Overground have been an enormous success. New parts of town have been linked together. The trains are clean, and generally run on time. Passenger satisfaction is amongst the highest of any rail provider in the country. London is very fortunate to have its golden trains. So what went right?

a) Control: Plans for an orbital rail network in London had been on the drawing board for years, repeatedly held back because there was no money for a bit of track that needed building. Only when TfL was granted some regulatory clout in the mid-2000s did these plans finally start to come to fruition, and the transfer of lines from other franchises began.

b) Vision: Applying TfL norms to a disparate collection of rail lines raised expectations, whilst also giving users a good idea what to expect. They also linked parts of the capital many passengers hadn't previously realised were linked, simply by including them on the tube map. London's remaining rail services are run by a broad church of operators with very different philosophies, not all of them positive.

c) Brand: The Overground was strongly branded from day 1, using an arresting name, grabbing an unused colour and running with it. You see the orange and you know what it stands for. If the service had been awful that could have been a disaster, but the Overground was always going to be an improvement. We may not like that none of the individual lines have proper names, but maybe calling them all the same thing was the masterstroke.

d) Connection: Ten years ago suburban London, especially suburban north London, didn't really do orbital train travel. But an improved service on radial lines means you no longer have to go all the way into the centre of town... which saves time, and money. Just look at how much busier these trains are now compared to how they used to be - it's a capacity-enhancing triumph.

e) Visibility: Once the Overground lines were under TfL control they started appearing on the TfL website, and maps, and lists of engineering updates, and now those ubiquitous apps, in a way that the Hounslow Loop and Orpington fasts never do. It's been like stepping up a division, while the poor sods on Southern and Southeastern get left behind.

f) Frequency: Providing a more regular service has changed behaviour. On the railway, passengers check the timetable. On the Overground, TfL prefers to hide the timetable and encourage a turn-up-and-go mentality, which better conceals how late a train is, and reduces moaning.

g) Reliability: ...and trains aren't generally late, not significantly so. A mostly self-contained network is easier to run reliably and efficiently. Also it's easier to focus well on inner suburban railways when you don't have any complex long distance commuter services to prioritise.

h) Cleanliness: Overground trains scrub up well, not least because most of them are much newer than the older carriages they replaced. Even where the trains being used are still the old stock, one of the first thing TfL did when they took over was to give them a good clean and brush-up, because they know first impressions count.

i) Accessibility: Making underground stations step-free is a costly nightmare, whereas Overground stations are invariably above ground so are much easier to fix. Improving accessibility on the Overground is therefore a problem TfL can genuinely solve, and so they are, which looks good on them, and is good for you.

j) Staffing: Many of the swallowed-up stations were dark unfriendly places, and generally unstaffed, but TfL added youths in hi-vis jackets to the stairs and platforms, and that looked reassuring, even if they didn't generally do very much. TfL may be about to take this idea even further by closing all the ticket offices and making everybody wholly visible, but passengers like that don't they?

k) ...


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream