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30 November 2014

TfL’s Consultation to close on 7th December 2014 for Proposed Bakerloo Line Extension

For many years, the Forest Hill Society has advocated an extension to the Bakerloo line into South East London; and, in autumn 2014, Transport for London opened a consultation to get opinions about possible extensions.

TfL are essentially consulting on two routes, both of which go through New Cross Gate and Lewisham. The first route goes from the Elephant and Castle, down the Old Kent Road to New Cross Gate, and continues to Lewisham. The second route goes underground from the Elephant and Castle to Camberwell and then on to Peckham Rye, before heading up to New Cross Gate and Lewisham. Both of these routes would go underground rather than making use of existing, above-ground railway lines.

Beyond Lewisham there is the possibility of joining up with the existing Catford Bridge line and taking over the tracks that run to Hayes and Beckenham Junction. There is also an additional option to tunnel from Beckenham to Bromley’s town centre.

But don’t get too excited yet. Any extension would take years to build and would be unlikely to start before 2023. Consequently, the new line would not be expected to be operational until some time in the 2030s. This may seem like an awfully long time away but at least the ideas are being discussed, and this makes an extension more likely than it has been at any time since the 1930s or 1940s, when it was first proposed!

So what’s in it for Forest Hill?
Clearly, the proposed routes do not come to Forest Hill. However, a route between Catford and Lower Sydenham is just on the edge of SE23 and if it was chosen we would lobby for a new station at Bell Green, which is a more suitable transport hub than Lower Sydenham. Peckham Rye is also not particularly far from the edge of SE23. Importantly, we would also have the option to change at New Cross Gate for faster routes to Waterloo, Charing Cross, and Paddington. This would be in addition to our links to London Bridge, Victoria, Canada Water, and the new Crossrail interchange at Whitechapel (which would probably provide a faster interchange to the West End, Paddington, and Heathrow).

Most importantly, a Bakerloo line extension should provide additional capacity to South East London’s over-stretched services, which are expected to be even busier in 2030.

Haven’t we heard all of this before?
There were plans for a southern extension to the Bakerloo line in 1931, 1947, the 1950s, and the 1970s but in the last 10 years the wisdom of the Bakerloo line extension has been gaining traction with transport planners across London. The introduction of the Old Kent Road as an area that could see massive regeneration, and funding from such a project at least partially funding the extension (as with the Battersea extension of the Northern line), makes this proposal even more cost effective than had already been recognised.

In addition, the Bakerloo line, just like the East London line 10 years ago, is the tube line that is most in need of modernisation, with very old rolling stock needing to be replaced in the next decade or two. Building an extension line and completely revamping the signalling and rolling stock as part of the same project makes sense, so there is a window of opportunity that has been recognised.

Alternative proposals
What has not been considered in the current consultation are other possible routes including a much longer tunnel that could take the tube further into South East London. Every area of South London thinks that the Bakerloo line should run close to them: proposals have been made to take the line to Streatham, Camberwell/Herne Hill, Greenwich, Honor Oak Park or even through Forest Hill.

The idea of tunnelling further out (for example, under Honor Oak), rather than taking over existing train lines, is a good idea but is likely to lead to a further delay in the programme while funding is fought over.

Unfortunately, none of these proposals are likely to be able to compete for the funding that will result from the regeneration of the Old Kent Road. For this reason, most people in South East London (including the Forest Hill Society) are now getting behind the proposed Lewisham extension; and there is a growing feeling that this part of the project should be pushed forward as soon as possible, with any further extensions to Catford and Hayes coming as a second phase, if necessary.

TfL’s Consultation closes on 7th December, so we would urge you to respond quickly and make your views known!

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