I had the rare pleasure of travelling on a small part of the London Overground – what used to be British Rail – today. Apart from a trip to Manchester a few years ago, I think the last time I used this form of transport was in the 1980s. If you live and work in the northern part of London then the Overground is not too relevant. Quite the reverse south of the river where huge chunks of the city are miles from the nearest Underground station.
[move into Michael Palin or your favourite TV travel presenter here mode] The first part of my journey took me from Kensington Olympia to Clapham Junction. I was, frankly, astonished that the train arrived exactly when the timetable said it would, and with no fuss went smoothly, albeit rather slowly, due south before looping round into Clapham Junction. A little later that morning, I concluded my visit to South London with the short hop from Queenstown Road to Vauxhall. Once again the train arrived in accord with the schedule on the electronic indicator. Even though it was only a four-carriage local service, there was a guard who controlled the doors, something we have not seen on the Underground for many years.
Needless to say the indicator boards at my home station, Ruislip Manor, indicate nothing whatsoever, since they have not actually been switched on yet. Fancy dear old British Rail, or whatever it’s called these days, being one up on the Tube.