'Scrooge' Boris's festive charges on Overground

BORIS JOHNSON has been labelled Scrooge because of his decision to charge revellers who use the London Overground on New Year s Eve. From 11.45pm on New Year s Eve until 4.30am on New Year s Day, partygoers will be able to travel for free

Charlotte Newton

BORIS JOHNSON has been labelled Scrooge because of his decision to charge revellers who use the London Overground on New Year's Eve.

From 11.45pm on New Year's Eve until 4.30am on New Year's Day, partygoers will be able to travel for free on buses and Tubes in London.

But users of the Overground, which runs from Gospel Oak to Barking and through Crouch Hill and Harringay Green Lanes, will have to pay. Rail users on the First Capital Connect service, which runs from Alexandra Palace to King's Cross, will also have to pay.

The mayor's decision not to offer free travel on the Overground has prompted Joanne McCartney, Labour London Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey, to compare him to the miserly Dickens's character Scrooge.

She said: "While some of my constituents will still be able to use the Tube or the buses to get home this New Years Eve, a large number would normally use the rail services.

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"I am very disappointed, given that times are tough for a lot of people, that "Scrooge" Boris has decided to take away some of the Christmas spirit and force people to pay for their transport home."

The Overground services in Haringey also stop just before midnight, with the last train departing from Gospel Oak at 11.08pm, while the last Barking to Gospel Oak service is at 11.25pm.

The First Capital Connect service from King's Cross to Alexandra Palace run until 2.25am, leaving every 15 minutes.

Lib Dem councillor Nigel Scott, who lives near Alexandra Palace station, said: "I don't understand it. How can TfL justify not providing free travel on the Overground when they are providing it on the underground?

"It's meant to all be one system and Oyster cards are supposedly valid throughout the whole network. It's the one day of the year when lots of people are going to be using the Overground and we should be providing an enhanced service so that people aren't tempted to drink and drive."

But Kit Greveson of Stapleton Hall Road, Stroud Green, was more sympathetic to the Mayor's cause. She said: "The train drivers want to have a New Year's Eve as well. If people want to go into town for the fireworks it will be more difficult for them to get back.

"But even if someone offered me double pay to drive a train on New Year's Eve, I don't think I'd want to because I want to be with my friends and family.

"Also, in order to operate the trains, you need conductors and people to operate the signals. There's a whole team of people to employ and pay."

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies also defended the train companies' decision to charge rail users. He said: "The money raised through fares is ploughed back into providing an ever better service for passengers. Train companies have helped to achieve record levels of punctuality and customer satisfaction, with four out of five passengers saying that they are happy with the service that they receive."

A TfL spokesman said: "Travel on Tubes, trams, DLR and buses will, as usual, be free this New Year's Eve from 11.45pm.

"London Overground is not running trains throughout the night on New Year's Eve because TfL is providing an extensive range of free travel on its other services - Tubes, trams, DLR and buses. This has been our practice since taking over the network from the former owner, Silverlink, two years ago.