Since opening in 2007, London Overground (LO) has increased ridership by over 500% and achieved high customer satisfaction scores. Responding to this growth, LO looked to increase capacity through extending their trains from four carriages to five, and undertake a variety of infrastructure works to match the extended trains.

Arup’s risk specialists were engaged on this £321 million project, initiated by Transport for London, named London Overground Capacity Improvement Programme (LOCIP). Working as the system safety advisors, Arup was there to not only advise on the safety risks to the public, passengers and workforce, but to perform bespoke risk assessments, undertake the development of risk registers and coordinate with the various stakeholders, to ensure that all risks identified were managed to As Low as Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). 

As a result of our work including embedding and implementing safety documentation carried out by others, all external safety approvals were in place to allow for the new trains to commence operations in line with the challenging programme. Five car trains are now in operation across both the North and East London Lines, delivering a further 25% capacity to travellers. The Overground continues to shape the landscape of London travel and be one of the most dependable services in the country. 

Working as a trusted advisor with the London Overground, we embedded ourselves in the project team. Positioning ourselves early on in the project meant we could identify and mitigate risks swiftly.

Ensuring compliance with new legislation

One challenge was the new risk management legislation that had recently come into force – the Common Safety Method for Risk Evaluation and Assessment (CSM REA); the LOCIP project was the first one to be implemented under such regulations.

The legislation was novel to many of the project team, so we demonstrated that we understood the implications and how to apply it. Rather than ensuring this project only was compliant, we took a holistic view and rewrote internal procedures to ensure that all significantly assessed projects going forward at LO will be compliant with the new legislation. As a result of this we improved the risk maturity of the LO organisation.

Managing risk 

Due to the complexity of the project, which included nineteen stations requiring platform extensions, our approach was to manage and assess the risk by dividing the risk programme accordingly. This allowed different elements of the project to be considered separately, but in parallel in order to save time and allow for the delivery programme to be met. We ensured that the risk management process was scalable and fit for purpose, keeping it simple where required and allowing the process to work effectively.

The project was recognised at the MCA Awards 2017.