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Getting round London just got easier

NEWS UPDATE (23 May 2010): The ELL is now also running at weekends and has been extended all the way round from Dalston in north-east London to West Croydon in the south of the city.

Yesterday, it finally opened. Not a hot new bar. Not a glamorous hotel. Oh no. What I’m talking about is the superbly useful, if boringly named East London Line.

It’s the newest part of the Overground, which - as I mentioned on my How to get around London page - is eventually going to throw a loop all the way round central London. Assuming you’re not all that interested in the complexities of London transport policy, I’ll focus on the important bit: what this means you can do.

Like most cities, in London a lot of cool stuff happens near where the residents live. Since few Londoners are blessed with the earning power to settle in the more famous areas of town, cheaper, more down-at-heel areas (Dalston in the north-east, New Cross in the south-east) often have the craziest new clubs, hippest art galleries and best cheap restaurants.

Guess what? The East London Line runs from New Cross Gate in the south-east, through bar-heavy Shoreditch to the hip clubs clustered near Dalston Junction. Even better, there are easy interchanges with the Underground and DLR from central London.

You’ve been sightseeing on the South Bank and want to check out a gig at the Amersham Arms (www.amersham-arms.co.uk)? Jubilee line from Waterloo to Canada Water, get the East London Line south to New Cross Gate.

Curious about a party in Dalston (see my London nightlife page) after a day exploring the historic City? DLR from Bank to Shadwell, East London Line north to Dalston Junction.

Could hardly be simpler.

Of course, if you are a secret transport nerd, you'll also love the brand-new stations, Brunel’s historic Thames tunnel, the special walk-through carriages, even the natty new Overground signs in their fetching shade of orange (see below).

The new Overground signs

The bad news? For an initial trial period, trains only run until 8pm. But then if you get stuck into Dalston, you might well keep dancing long enough to get first train back to your hotel at 7am.