One of the most headline-grabbing commitments in Sadiq Khan's manifesto is that he plans to rename the Overground lines. He could have done this at any point in his 5-year mayoralty, as could Boris before him, but instead it's been thrown into the brantub of election goodies.
When the London Overground was first introduced in 2007 it made some sense to brand the whole thing under one name. A single orange loop with tentacles flailing out towards Watford, Richmond, Croydon, Stratford and Barking was visually comprehensible, if much less so when service updates needed to be communicated. What really broke things was the takeover of lines out of Liverpool Street, making northeast London a mess of tangled spaghetti and piling on the confusion over what 'minor delays' might actually mean. Splitting up the six lines makes enormously good sense.
But what to call them?
They do already have official names (based on their termini) but they're a bit of a mouthful. They're listed in TfL's Editorial style guide, both what they used to be and what they are now (although I note the list hasn't been updated since Chingford & Co arrived in 2015).
• North London line is now Overground Richmond/Clapham Junction - Stratford
• West London line is now Overground Willesden Junction - Clapham Junction
• DC line/Watford Euston DC is now Overground Watford Junction - Euston
• Gospel Oak to Barking (GOB) is now Overground Gospel Oak - Barking
• East London line is now Overground Dalston/Highbury & Islington - West Croydon/Crystal Palace/New Cross
That last one in particular is an abhorrence.
Going back to North London line and East London line sounds like a good idea (with 'West London line' redundant now that trains from Clapham Junction continue to Stratford). DC line is too much of a geeky throwback, so not that. After many unofficial years it'd be great to officially name the Gospel Oak to Barking line the Goblin. Lea Valley would work for the lines out of Liverpool Street. And nobody really cares what we call the runty shuttle from Romford to Upminster unless they live in intermediate Emerson Park.
The geographical idea starts off well but gets ambiguously complex. Combining termini ends up sounding contrived (and doesn't work on lines that branch). Letters and numbers work perfectly well in Paris but might be too bland for London. This isn't as easy as it sounds.
Also, it's important to read what Sadiq actually said rather than relying on tweeted summaries.
This isn't TfL coming up with a list of names and imposing them, this is some kind of consultation or public outreach within a specific remit. Given how well 'Elizabeth' went down for Crossrail, the opportunities for disappointment, anger and fury are great.
We could be asked to come up with a theme, like animals, birds, colours or fruit.
But my suspicion is that Sadiq may use this to further his diversity agenda, specifically his Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. This intends to focus on "increasing representation among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, women, the LGBTQ+ community and disability groups", so imagine the cultural uptick if you could pick six names that cover the entire spectrum.