East London Line Briefing

If, like me, you use the East London Line to get around you may have seen the posters at stations pointing out the line will close on 22 December this year to re-open in June 2010.

Last week those of us on the Lewisham Deptford Labour Party’s General Committee had a briefing from Len Duval on what’s going on that I thought might be of wider interest.

Len said that as well as the line being extended (through Brockley and Forest Hill to Croydon) TfL are replacing all the track and signalling.  Apparently TfL did look at closing the existing line in sections but that would have taken longer and cost considerably more.

Replacement buses

As the line goes over the river TfL are proposing three different bus replacement services – one for the stations south of the river, one for those north and a shuttle between Rotherhithe and Canada Water.

The shuttle option does pose difficulties, there’s a width restriction on the size of the bus which will only allow 12 seaters to get through the tunnel.  This means it’s unlikely to run during the peak periods – too many buses required.

My guess is that for those using the service there will be a greater need to take people towards DLR/Jubilee and mainline services than buses acting as a reasonable substitute to the East London Line itself.

TfL have told Len that they’ll also be looking at the capacity of other bus services into London regularly.

Mainline Services

Len told us that TfL are engaged with South Eastern and Southern as well as the DLR to ensure there is sufficient capacity for us to take other routes into London.

However, while New Cross Gate will remain open for Southern operated rail services despite lobbying (by Len amongst others) it doesn’t look like they are able to add additional services to help with the increased demand.


Len did press to see if London Bridge could be made a Zone 2 station for the period of the closure, and TfL did look at the proposal.  But it isn’t going to happen.  Southern would apparently have lost £110 million in revenue over the closure had the proposal gone ahead.

Post 2010 London Bridge Services

As we’ve seen elsewhere there’s concern about Forest Hill and Sydenham services to London Bridge going from 8 to 6 an hour at peak times.  The current argument about that seems to be that this needs to happen to accommodate 8 trains a hour on the East London Line.  Similarly New Cross services into and out of London Bridge could fall to 6 an hour.

For those who use Honor Oak Park there may be some good news as they could get an extra train an hour.

Len said:

Although I welcome the new investment going into the East London Line, providing a much needed link to east and north east London as well as direct connections to other tube lines, I regret that the opening of such a major new line for Londoners, might lead to a small reduction in services to London Bridge…

If in the event it should prove impossible to maintain the London Bridge peak time service of 8 trains an hour, then I want additional coaches, longer trains to be provided and then to seriously investigate accommodating a further train at peak times.

I believe that the East London Line will bring improvements as it will mean better safety and security, more staff at stations, Oyster ticketing at all stations and an alternative journey route – with trains every 8 minutes.  However, I recognise that we need to closely monitor how it will affect current train services.


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, South East London. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to East London Line Briefing

  1. Carly Morris says:

    It’s a shame about the closure of the East London line – I am a London student thinking of living in New Cross from this summer onwards, and it would have been very very useful. However, the links around the area are still very good, with regular, fast overground trains from New Cross to Charing Cross. Also I actually come from Croydon, so in the long run these works will be good for me!

  2. andrewkbrown says:

    You’re right Carly, in the medium term these changes should be good for us. We’ll just have to find other ways into London while they’re being done.

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