That was the message from London's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy as he inspected the northern section of the route in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

Clearly impressed by the progress of the works to prepare the track bed and the 22 bridges along the Kingsland Viaduct, the Commissioner said: "These sites are being handed over on time and on schedule and we are now in a position to start the main works."

On site at the spectacular Regent's Canal bridge on the viaduct, Mr Hendy was lifted by cherry picker crane to inspect the two striking 10 metre high and 48 metre long arches which span the structure.

He said: "This will be the first bow-string arch bridge in Britain to carry a railway. Its unusual design was chosen deliberately and will be a landmark for London Overground in East London as well as a highly visible symbol of the regeneration of Hackney."

"The bridge will start to carry London Overground services in 2010 and they will not only bring business and jobs to all communities along the railway's route but will give all residents better access to jobs and leisure elsewhere in London.

"They will get Transport for London's high standards of safety and security, a high-frequency Metro style trains service, Oyster facilities and overall quality passenger services.

"With the London Overground, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest £1.4bn in East London's transport infrastructure. We intend to make the most of this opportunity."

Mr Hendy was joined by the Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe at the Regent's Canal Bridge site.

London Overground

Mayor Pipe said: "It is great news that the work to extend the East London Line to Hackney is progressing so well, and that our long campaign to get Hackney on the Tube map is paying off.

"With the Olympics coming to Hackney in 2012 and improved and much more frequent North London Line services by 2010, it is not surprising that so many of our residents are proud of their borough and excited about the future."

The London Overground in East London is being developed in two phases.

Phase one, to be delivered in 2010, will run from Highbury and Islington down to West Croydon, Crystal Palace and New Cross.

Linking London

This will include a link between a new station at Dalston Junction and the existing Highbury & Islington station which will join the East London Railway with the North London Railway to create the London Overground network.

The link will be completed by February 2011.

Phase two will join the East London Railway to Clapham Junction and will complete an orbital rail route around London on which London Overground services will run, following the London 2012 Olympics.

  • Pictures of the visit are available on request
  • The Mayor's policies and the Government's decision to transfer responsibility for part of the London's National Rail network to TfL, has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve transport links in some of the most socially deprived areas of London with the London Overground service
  • The regeneration opportunities created by London Overground are enormous
    • London Overground services running on the North and East London Railways will connect 20 of London's 33 boroughs
    • Twent-two per cent (1.5 million) of London's population live within 15 minutes walk of a London Overground station
    • London Overground services on the East London Railway will run through over two-thirds of London's most deprived wards
  • Recent developments have enabled the Mayor to invest over £1.4bn in improving rail services in London and to launch the London Overground network
  • £1bn is being invested to extend the existing East London Line to create the East London Railway. The line will be integrated with the North London Railway, which is to receive a £450m upgrade (£236m on infrastructure upgrades and £223m on new rolling stock)
  • Only two options exist to deliver the extension of the Mayor's control over rail services in London: one, either £1.4bn of investment with more jobs and better services is delivered in a new combined franchise, including the North London Railway and the East London Railway, or two: no £1.4bn investment and a reduced number of jobs and services
  • The East London Line Extension Enabling contract involving the refurbishment or replacement of 22 bridges plus track bed preparation work is worth £30m. The £363m main works contract for the East London Line was won in October by a Balfour Beattie Carillion joint project
  • The Main Works Contractor will build new stations at the northern end of the extension, a train depot and flyover at New Cross Gate and re-lay track and signalling along the existing route so that the East London Line extension can connect with the National Rail network