London boasts the UK’s shortest railway line, a swift nine-minute journey featuring just three stations. The Overground line, running parallel to a corresponding bus route, stands out for its single track, limiting trains to a 30mph speed. Commencing near Romford station, initially known as platform number one since its 1893 opening, the line historically required passengers to exit and enter Romford station for train changes.
The line’s connectivity challenge lies in a solitary link to platform two, resulting in trains smoothly entering but facing complexities when departing. To access Liverpool Street from the line, trains navigate a series of maneuvers, moving to platform three, reversing across tracks to a signal near platform two, and then connecting to the line. Despite morning execution, the process is reportedly intricate and costly for a relatively short route.
The Overground’s limited popularity, with 638,445 passengers compared to 9.3 million on Greater Anglia and TfL Rail before the pandemic, deters costly modifications. The fast lines through Romford are already congested, and additional connections might disrupt high-speed services. Transport for London (TfL) faces considerable expenses for alterations that yield minimal benefits.
A distinctive feature of the short line is its journey to Emerson Park, facilitating travel for residents from Harold Wood, Ilford, and Chadwell Heath to Basildon, Lakeside, and Grays. The adjacent 370 bus route, notably pricier than the train in 2021, shadows this unique overground stretch.
While the short line remains a London-specific curiosity, disruptions loom for one of its served stations this Christmas. c2c, responsible for trains into Upminster, announced a service hiatus on Christmas Eve, December 27, and New Year’s Day until 2.30 pm. Rail replacement bus services will ferry passengers to and from Grays during this period. Rob Mullen, c2c’s managing director, encourages passengers to plan ahead, check travel updates, and remain flexible during the festive season.