The London Overground gleams in the sunlight. The interior of it’s air-conditioned carriages are free of the usual signs of prolonged commuter use. The tracks it travels along are fresh–underpinned by sack-fresh gravel. The walls which line the occasional cuttings look like they’ve only just been carved out of the rock.
That brand new joy won’t last. By the time the Olympics starts the line will have been bedded in, it will no longer be referred to accidentally as the East London Line or indeed the ‘old-East London Line’. It will have settled into its vital role, linking up the south of the London to the north, bypassing the choked centre of the city.
But before 2012, it and Londoners perception of it will have to change. They’ll become accustomed to – perhaps even grow to love – its hybrid identity. Is it a train? Is it part of the Underground rolling stock the dirtier trains from below ground sneer upon? Is it more the grown up sibling of the cuter, perkier Docklands Light Railway. Will the seemingly strange inclusion of departure and arrival times on display boards become nothing more than ‘London Overground’s way’?
Most important of all, will air conditioned carriages on commuter trains come as standard by 2012?