A new £50 million rail link that connects north London, the City and south London has been hailed by the Mayor of London as the “rail version of the M25”.
The 2.1 kilometre track links between Highbury & Islington station in the north and Dalston Junction in the east, allowing passengers travelling to Highbury & Islington via the Victoria line tube or National Rail to use high-speed London Overground services to reach the north, east or south of the capital.
The route, opened by Mayor of London Boris Johnson three months ahead of schedule on Monday, will also be useful for visitors to the London 2012 games as it opens up another access route to the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.
Mayor Johnson said: “We are piecing together a rail version of the M25 in the capital, an orbital rail link that is making it vastly easier for millions of Londoners to whizz from one side of the city to another.
“This relatively short stretch of track will link three sides of the city and mean people can scoot around the edges of the Capital on fast, reliable rail connections without needing to head into central London.
“Our engineers have performed marvels to complete their work three months early and it will provide a crucial connection for people heading to the Olympic Park next year.”
Around 33 million passengers this year (approximately 100,000 per day) are expected to use the rail link and the recently-opened London Overground East London route. Demand is forecast to increase to 40 million in 2016, or 120,000 per day.
The route will be served by a fleet of 20 air-conditioned and walk-through Electrostar trains.
Mike Brown, managing director of London Rail, said: “The London Overground network continues to grow and offer Londoners real alternatives to journeys requiring a trip through central London.
“This link will be a huge help to passengers based on London's outer fringes, and for those who travel into the capital on the Victoria or Piccadilly tube lines.
“London Overground's network is setting the standard for the future of urban rail travel.”