Bakerloo brush-off for Catford: Tube to Lewisham ‘set for 2030’

Waterloo Tube station
This has been kicking around for a few days, but as this website’s gong through a bit of an infrastructure phase, it’d be daft to ignore it – Transport for London’s commissioner has said the Bakerloo Line could be extended to Lewisham by 2030, running via the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate. (See original London SE1 story and page 38 of the TfL commissioner’s report.)

But Mike Brown’s preferred plan is to build only a first phase to Lewisham – instead of extending the route over National Rail lines through Catford to Hayes.

Bakerloo Line proposals/ TfLIt’s mixed news for Lewisham Council’s campaign to bring the Tube to the borough, as while Lewisham itself – undergoing rapid redevelopment – would get a much-needed Underground link, its southern neighbour faces being stuck with inferior overground services, despite also being home to big regeneration schemes.

On first sight, it appears a remarkably short-sighted proposal. If you consider how congested North Greenwich is now, a Bakerloo terminal at Lewisham – attracting passengers from all points south and east – could make that look calm and peaceful.

Furthermore, the really big costs would be in tunnelling to Lewisham – converting the old Mid-Kent rail route through Ladywell, Catford Bridge, Lower Sydenham and out to Hayes would be relatively cheap.

(Readers with very long memories will remember we’ve been here before – the original 1965 Jubilee Line (then Fleet Line) proposals would have seen the line extended in phases to run to Hayes by 1980.)

But as mentioned last year, Bromley Council has long been unhappy about losing direct trains to the City from Hayes – even though the Bakerloo can shift far more people, and is likely to be at least as quick for suburban travellers than existing services.

If Bromley’s rather inexplicable opposition continues, it’ll also remove one of the key benefits of the scheme – freeing up extra National Rail routes through Lewisham after the Hayes line is transferred to the Underground.

Of course, this does open up the opportunity for others to belatedly come in – last year the Eltham Labour Party agreed a motion backing a Bakerloo extension along the Bexleyheath line, a slightly more sensible proposal than the DLR on stilts on top of the A2.

Lewisham Council studied a variety of different options in a report five years ago, but its findings were largely ignored this side of the border. More recently, Greenwich Council has lent its backing to a Lewisham extension. Local Tories are also supporting the idea.

Bakerloo campaigners will now look at persuading London’s next mayor to look afresh at the scheme so he/she opts to implement the whole extension, rather than just a link to Lewisham. But with TfL losing all its government grant from 2019, the future of the whole scheme isn’t fully guaranteed yet.

17 December update: TfL has now published its full report into the Bakerloo line extension, confirming the above – and indicating that a route through Catford has not so much been kicked into the long grass, but booted into the pond, but also opens up the possibility of a route through Eltham and Bexleyheath to Slade Green. “Planning and engineering work for options to Lewisham will be undertaken on the basis of avoiding preclusion of a future onwards extension including to Hayes and potential other locations such as towards Bexleyheath. This will include working with stakeholders to safeguard necessary delivery of the infrastructure that may be required.”

7 comments

  1. fromthemurkydepths

    It raises many questions. Stopping an extension at Lewisham will hamper all SE routes as London Bridge rebuilding now ongoing produces no extra services or frequency increases after 2018. Cannon Street and Charing Cross can not take any more services so a Bakerloo takeover is needed to additional services on Dartford lines. Thameslink sees all the benefits of extra services from London Bridge rebuilding and that mainly benefits South London and Southern services.

    The Hayes line will see a lot of housing built over the coming 10-20 years and without the Bakerloo it’s stuck at 4 trains an hour. With Bakerloo it’s up to 20+ an hour, and if people want the City they can change en route. Higher frequencies should make up for changing.

  2. Darryl

    Indeed – I know there are other places bigging this up as GREAT NEWS, but as you say, it raises more questions than answers. It’s very hard to see how National Rail could be boosted if the line only goes to Lewisham – even the promise of a station at Camberwell to make up for the Tube not running there rings hollow as that Thameslink line’s a crappy two trains per hour.

  3. fromthemurkydepths

    Passenger figures out today show that 4 trains per hour wont be enough for the Hayes line. Ladywell is up 7%, Catford Bridge 9% and Lower Sydenham 8%. much development coming to all those station area, particularly Lower Sydenham (industrial to residential recently approved) and Catford Bridge (tower beside and retail park over the road)

  4. Darian Thomson

    If Camberwell got a Thameslink station it could be more frequent that 2x trains per hour because the Sutton trains pass through too.

    I hope they build the line all the way to Hayes but the LB of Bromley are pain in the a*se when it comes to improvements in SE London. Maybe better to get to Lewisham (Catford if possible) for the time so that inner SE Londoners don’t have to cram onto already packed trains.

  5. fromthemurkydepths

    Bromley are trying to hold back housing development but failing at appeal on a regular basis. There’s 223 homes coming by Lower Sydenham station. Was refused then developers won on appeal (earlier in 2015 I believe). They sold to Crest Nicholson in October who are due to start early 2016. That’s phase 1. Phase 2 is for 297 homes and again was refused by Bromley over the summer. Now appealing and likely to win.

    So probably 520 homes beside Lower Sydenham station alone in Bromley borough. They’re failing to halt housing developments yet persist in trying to halt improvements on the Hayes line.

  6. Oz

    At the very least it will be good for the old Kent road and Lewisham. It is great news for residents in these areas and will eventually make them much more desirable then Bromley, which will suffer for their short sightedness. The connectivity of inner London will be complete once the overground completes its southern spur from the proposed barking riverside extention to New cross via blackheath kidbrooke & Charlton. (Dreams of a Kidbrooke resident)

  7. Darryl

    TfL has now published its full report into the Bakerloo line extension, confirming the above – and indicating that a route through Catford has not so much been kicked into the long grass, but booted into the pond, but also opens up the possibility of a route through Eltham and Bexleyheath to Slade Green. “Planning and engineering work for options to Lewisham will be undertaken on the basis of avoiding preclusion of a future onwards extension including to Hayes and potential other locations such as towards Bexleyheath. This will include working with stakeholders to safeguard necessary delivery of the infrastructure that may be required.”

    It all looks horrendously short-sighted, but shows how focused City Hall is on redeveloping the Old Kent Road. But if anyone wants to campaign for a Tube to Eltham, now’s your chance…

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