Highbury-bound trains disrupted every day for Overground commuters

Queues build up as another train terminates at Dalston Junction instead of Highbury and Islington (P

Queues build up as another train terminates at Dalston Junction instead of Highbury and Islington (Photo: Emma Bartholomew) - Credit: Archant

Thousands of frustrated commuters in Hackney are having their journeys disrupted every single day as Overground trains bound for Highbury and Islington terminate early without warning.

Operator Transport for London (TfL) is blaming under-fire Southern Rail for the problems, which have spiked in the last month with 392 of the 11,806 trains affected - or 3.5 per cent.

The problem occurs when Overground trains get stuck behind Southern Rail services further down the track near West Croydon.

It means some delayed north-bound trains are cut short at Dalston Junction so they can make the return journey back south on schedule.

But commuters are only told after boarding the train at Haggerston it will terminate at the next stop. They then face a wait of as long as 20 minutes for the next train to Highbury.

Others are bypassing four stops on the Overground line - Hoxton, Haggerston, Dalston Junction and Canonbury – so they can make it to Highbury and Islington faster. Trains only need to be three minutes late for rescheduling to take place.

This week an Overground worker at Dalston Junction confirmed it’s a daily occurrence and said Southern services were blocking the trains.

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“Our trains are stuck behind them,” he said. “It means our trains are running later and later. If it’s late more than three minutes they say the train’s going to run fast from Shoreditch all the way to Highbury so it’s back on time for passengers there to get their connecting train. We have no other choice. I know it’s a bit of a headache for you as a passenger because you need to get to work.”

One angry passenger said: “It sounds as though this is all about massaging the figures and it’s the passengers in the middle who are suffering.”

Duncan Cross, the Overground’s deputy director, apologised for the disruption, which has been going on for months. He said: “Our services share track with national rail services and the disruption to our customers has been primarily caused by our trains being held behind delayed Southern and GTR services.

A spokesman for Southern agreed that “passengers deserve better” and said the strike by Aslef and RMT was having a huge impact.

“We are truly sorry that our performance has not been good of late and that delays on our network can at times affect other train operators such as London Overground,” he added.