Passengers on the London Overground network are set for more comfortable journeys as the first five-carriage train, which will increase passenger capacity by 25%, took to the rails today. An extra carriage is being introduced to London Overground trains to meet increasing demand for the highly popular rail service - providing more comfortable journeys and room for an extra 170 passengers per train.

The increase from four to five-carriage trains is part of Transport for London's (TfL) £320m programme to boost capacity on the London Overground network. The rollout of the longer trains will start on the East London Line followed by the North and West London lines and be completed by the end of 2015.  

London Overground will also be able to carry more passengers on the Gospel Oak to Barking route once the line is electrified, and its diesel trains are replaced with electric ones, by 2018. Passenger capacity on the Watford to Euston line will be increased when the power supply is upgraded.  

Under TfL, London Overground has become one of the most popular and punctual railways anywhere in the country. It has brought previously under-used parts of the urban network back into full use, while services have been radically improved with continuing investment and expansion to parts of the capital once not well served by rail.

Stations have been brought up to modern standards, with CCTV, better security, a turn up and go service for disabled Londoners and staff present at every station at all times. Overall customer satisfaction on the London Overground network has steadily increased, with the latest score reaching 91 per cent and the railway is consistently one of the most reliable in the country.  

In September and October of this year 95.7% of London Overground trains arrived at their destination within five minutes of their scheduled time. The national average for that period was 90.1 per cent.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "With punctual services and an ever growing number of passengers I think it's fair to say that London Overground has been a fantastic railway success story. Adding an extra carriage to the trains that criss-cross this network will allow more people to take advantage of what is now one of the most reliable and trusted rail services in the UK. As London's population continues to rise, it is investment in our transport network like this which will help to keep London and its economy on the up'

TfL's Managing Director of London Rail, Mike Brown, said: 'The ever-increasing popularity of the London Overground network has seen a huge rise in demand. As a result, we are now on course to carry 135m passengers - nearly four times the number we carried when we took over this railway in 2007. 

'To enable us to continue and maintain the high levels of safe, reliable and frequent travel that our customers have come to expect, it is vital that we deliver more capacity by lengthening our trains from four to five carriages. "We have set a standard for highly successful rail services and this is the model we will follow when we take over three-quarters of the rail services out of Liverpool Street station next year.'  

Local business groups have hailed the transformative effects of the London Overground, with Ben Davies, Founder of Independent Shoreditch Business Alliance and the Ministry of Startups, saying:  'Many of the entrepreneurs and their teams at the Ministry of Startups use London Overground to get into work. As we're based half way between Shoreditch station and Liverpool Street, it is an essential transport link.

'The start-up businesses in Shoreditch really value London Overground and were delighted to hear about the forthcoming increase in capacity. It will make a significant difference to both staff and visitors and improve the passenger experience. Many people in London only use the Tube network, we think they're unaware of how regular London Overground services are. We love it!'  

From 31 May, TfL will look after three quarters of all journeys in and out of Liverpool Street station - having integrated West Anglia and Liverpool Street to Shenfield rail services into the TfL network.

The West Anglia services will join the London Overground Network, and the Liverpool Street to Shenfield services will be run by TfL as the first phase of the introduction of TfL-run Crossrail.

As has been witnessed in other parts of London, integrating these services will bring new opportunities, support future growth and unlock regeneration. Consultations are currently underway on extending London Overground to Old Oak Common in the west of London and Barking Riverside in the East.

Research indicates that the entire Old Oak regeneration scheme could be worth up to £6.2 billion for the London economy with a London Overground station essential to fulfil wider plans to create 55,000 jobs and build 24,000 homes. Some 950 acres of industrial land is available for regeneration. At Barking Riverside, approximately 6,000 jobs would be generated as a result of the new housing, including around 2,500 permanent jobs in the 65,500 sq.m retail, commercial and leisure development and a London Overground extension would enable the delivery of up to 10,800 new homes, many of which will be affordable as well as a new school and healthcare facilities along with a new district centre which would provide commercial and leisure facilities.

To accommodate the longer five-car trains a programme of infrastructure upgrades has been required.

These include:

  • Construction of a new train stabling facilities at Silwood, south east London and also in Wembley;
  • Reconfiguration of the existing maintenance depots at New Cross Gate and Willesden;
  • Platform extensions at London Overground stations across the network and associated signalling/power works.

The East London Line has increased accessibility of the public transport network in east London. Sixteen per cent of people living within 15 minutes walk of a station on the Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction section of the line live within the 10 per cent most deprived areas of London.

The East London Line service has had a significant impact on the accessibility of large areas of east London from Peckham Rye. The addition of this new and enhanced route has opened up opportunities to and from some of the more deprived areas of east and south London.

Passengers along the Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction link now have much better access to a wider range of destinations. The four trains per hour frequency has made the service more convenient to use with more journey time options