East London Line Debate

Jim Dowd has been making the case for the tube and rail network in our bit of the world:

The tube system in south London, and certainly in south-east London, has been a joke for many years—largely because it does not exist. In the latter days of the 19th century, the system was run by a cartel. The Southern Electric Company and the Metropolitan Railway, as they then were, decided that they would not encroach on each other’s territory, which is one reason why the tube system never came very far south of the Thames. Elaborate hoaxes were devised. Reference was made to saturated sand that made tunnelling impossible, and God knows what else, but it was the commercial interests of the railway companies that largely dictated the layout of the London underground as it exists today. Fortunately, in more enlightened times we have adopted a more progressive view of improving transport in and around the capital.

When I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, there was a scheme to extend the Bakerloo line from the Elephant and Castle through Walworth, Camberwell, Peckham and Forest Hill and on to Catford and Bromley, but it was never more than a pipe-dream. The costs were always prohibitive, even then, and although the scheme existed on paper, it never existed in fact.

The extension of the East London line therefore became a much more realistic proposition, particularly in my part of south-east London. Only relatively minor engineering work at New Cross Gate is required to allow it to share the infrastructure with Network Rail that is necessary to produce a service that—when I started campaigning for such an extension in the early ’70s, on being elected to Lewisham council—was designed to go to East Croydon. As the proposed extension of the East London line both north and south was discussed—the House will understand if I do not go into detail about the northern extension, important though that is—the ideas were refined. The decision was taken that it would be better to extend the line to West Croydon, which serves the centre of Croydon more readily than does East Croydon. Extending to East Croydon would have had the advantage of a link with Gatwick airport, but such a service would have been of limited value to commuters…

The London borough of Lewisham has the highest proportion of residents who work outside the borough, so its public transport links are crucial to the well-being of the area and its citizens. We have seen many improvements in recent years. The Docklands light railway extension was eventually continued across the river, from a rather strange terminus at Mudchute on the Isle of Dogs, largely because of the innovative and imaginative approach of the London borough of Lewisham. Modesty almost forbids me from saying that I was the chair of finance at the time. We identified a capital investment that we could make in concert with the Docklands light railway to bring it, via Greenwich and Deptford, to Lewisham. That was achieved a few years ago, improving the transport links considerably.

Jim goes on to talk about the importance of services to London Bridge for many of us who use public transport to get to work and argues against any reduction in the number of trains going through our area to the centre of London.


About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Lewisham. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to East London Line Debate

  1. Hi Andrew

    At the end of your piece on the Eats London Line, you say “and argues against any reduction in the number of trains going through our area to the centre of London”

    Is there a plan to reduce services that you know of?

    With the plans for residential housing that the council has for the centre of Lewisham (Gateway, Loampit Vale, Connington Road etc), the need for *expanding* the service has never been greater, and the Council has already predicted a “modal shift to public transport” to alleviate the inevitable road congestion (although they may have failed to realise that buses travel by road …).

  2. Pingback: Something weird going on with comments « Someday I Will Treat You Good

  3. Lone Ranger says:

    A transport update: I recently mentioned I’d noticed an apparent increase of vandalism on buses…..

    In the House of Commons Stephen Pound MP a former bus conductor, spoke of young people being terrified of gangs on London buses. That sitting at the back of a bus was like entering a “piranha pool”.

    He stated gangs are treating buses as “street corners on wheels”.

    Mr Pound identified 3 areas in the capital, the ‘south-east quadrant’ being, Croydon, Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich. He went on to say gangs were making their mark by scratching gang names onto bus windows.

    Figures given show there were 4,000 offences in March last year but had risen by 13 per cent in January. 75% of suspects were under 25 and a third under 16.

    Robert Neill MP said “Of the 2,390 – odd passes confiscated from under-18s for bad behaviour, only 108 were permanently withdrawn.”

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