Murky Depths

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Greenwich, Kidbrooke

Riding London’s newest bus route: the 335 from Kidbrooke to Greenwich

Today I did what I’ve been meaning to all week long; head to Kidbrooke then jump on the 335 and ride the whole five mile route to the o2 in Greenwich.

And to do so I would use London’s newest bus route, the glorious 335.

The routes primary reason for being

Well, glorious in that I was the only one up top for a while. No annoying fellow passengers. No need to have Spotify turned up (though I did anyway). We left Kidbrooke with a very light load.

No one upstairs

Before anyone starts on about the route being a waste of time it was 1) late morning which is always quiet and 2) the first week. Even the most busy current forms of transport were dead initially. I recall taking the new London Overground from New Cross around 2010. Barely a soul on it. Fast forward and it needed extending to four carriages, then five and people still can’t board it.

Progress on site

Kidbrooke’s sprouting blocks have seen a fair bit of progress since I was last here having a wander six weeks ago.

This block has risen a few floors in recent weeks

Since then the final tower facing a new square beside the new Kidbrooke station has risen a good few floors. The new station building is also moving towards completion and opening in 2020.

New station

Upon leaving Kidbrooke we hit some traffic at midday near the A2 junction. Last week I pondered how this area will cope with 30 per cent more traffic heading to it once Silvertown Tunnel opens. A flyover coming?

This pinchpoint over the railway sees the bus lane disappear along with a cycle lane.

Past here we head alongside a new Aldi supermarket. It opens early in 2020 and promises to be a lifeline for Kidbrooke Village residents currently lacking options beyond a small Sainsbury’s.

New Aldi

The 335 had two possible routes when in consultation. One down the A2 and another slower route alongside via Blackheath Standard that could call at more stops. The latter was chosen.

Running alongside the A2

It’s all very pleasant in the autumn light with barely any other vehicles to speak of. The bus may be eight years old but it’s a hybrid with the engine cutting out each time we stop. Many don’t board; still unaware of this new route it would seem.

Not bad

With very light traffic we moved along but not particularly quickly. And there’s the rub; if this bus is supposed to entice many to head to North Greenwich to take the tube to reach major areas of employment then I’m not sure how many of Kidbrooke’s forthcoming residents will do it.

Slow going around Blackheath

They could jump on a train two minutes from their door and head towards central London or wait for a bus (with real time information much more flaky than trains), ride it for half an hour (or more at peak times) then head to the incredibly busy North Greenwich Jubilee Line station.

Sun in the Sands

For those who are only heading to a destination served by Southeastern such as Victoria, London Bridge, the City or West End (plus others via Thameslink if changing at London Bridge) it’s not too enticing. Nor is it compared to a train to Lewisham then a DLR to Canary Wharf.

Through Blackheath Standard – flowers, greenery and generally a nice place to visit

We passed through Blackheath Standard. You know you’re away from the neglected east of the borough here and some of the worst estates. Some care actually goes into public spaces.

Anyway, we reach Sun in the Sands. Another place that will see far more traffic if Silvertown goes ahead according to TfL.

The chosen route avoiding the A2 seems a bit of a perk when looking at traffic trying to exit:

A2 traffic on right.

Now we’re at one of the bleakest parts not only in Greenwich but all of London. The A2 flyover.

At peak times traffic jams here can add a fair bit of time, and again it’ll only get worse according to TfL’s figures negating benefits of taking buses through this area.

The public transport spiel of Silvertown Tunnel backers falls apart if bus routes are meeting even more congestion at junctions post completion. And with the traffic uplift they will.

A walk later on foot. A place to avoid

Then it’s on past Ikea, others retail barns and onto the final stretch.

Past the giant retail sheds in Zone 2. No mixed-use here. 1980s design rules

What this bus will do is benefit those working on the Peninsula or shops in Charlton.

Though it should be noted the 335 doesn’t serve Bugsbys Way. It was an option on the consultation but dropped.

The route is an odd one really. It’s neither an express which may tempt people from Kidbrooke to north Greenwich nor an all-stopper that could go via Charlton. It already stops at enough places to not be central-London commuter friendly so why not just be a completely local meandering route?

Busway

After the retail stores we head onto the no-longer-a-pilot-busway. A standard dual carriageway it is. We pass the new St Mary Magdalene school which will reach over 1,600 pupils in coming years. A sixth form is imminent.

New school on left. Towers planned on vacant plot

Around here are more Greenwich Millennium (ha!) Village (double ha!) blocks.

New flats moving south towards Ikea. 20 years and counting for this development

And finally just before we terminate at North Greenwich bus station we pass the Design District. It’s come a long way since August when I last covered progress.

They’ll be a market, artist studios, gallery space and restaurants when it opens next year.

Overview of site

Finally we park up and jump off at Greenwich bus station. A tad more sedate at midday than rush hour.

Bus station. 20 years old. Won’t make 30.

Not that it has much life left. A showpiece design by world-renowned Santiago Calatrava may have been scrapped in August but something will eventually see the bulldozers move in.

Bus stand space

After half a dozen people get off the 335 parks up using stand space helpfully freed up by chipping away at the frequency of many other routes that serve North Greenwich.

Buses at North Greenwich

It probably means no net increase in buses serving this area but is a decent link to Kidbrooke’s 5,200 (and counting) homes.

A Southeastern rail killer though that’ll see commuters switch in spades? Nah. That line needs extra capacity, and soon.

Click to enlarge

Network Rail’s plan for just four additional carriages and a five per cent capacity boost by 2024 on the Bexleyheath, Kidbrooke line is not enough.

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. Charles Calthrop

    I welcome it for one specific and very narrow reason: it relieves the pressure on the 108 at rush hour. Anyone who has had to make the journey from Standard to North Greenwich (or vice versa) can take a chance on the 422 or pray there’s room on a 108. Granted there are easier ways to address this but given the dire, traffic-filled series of cut-throughs that pass for the walking route to North Greenwich, any relief is welcome.

  2. CDT

    Once new route 335 Kidbrooke Village to North Greenwich Station is established the route will get busier. More homes are under construction on the Kidbrooke Village development along with the nearby Aldi store. I think this route has the scope to be extended out towards New Eltham along Footscray Road and possibly in to Sidcup.

    This would not affect the journey times on journeys between Kidbrooke Village and North Greenwich Station.

    This would allow route 335 to start and finiish nearer to Dartford Bus Garage which route 335 currently operates out of by Arriva,

  3. Dylan George

    Extending the route to Bromley via Horn Park, Mottingham, & Chislehurst was an idea I was discussing with friends on a Discord server. Would finally bring a direct link to Bromley from North Greenwich

  4. Graham

    As a lot of people travel to North Greenwich Station for the Jubilee Line but also for the 02 Arena, Cineworld and now the new Magazine Music Venue, So believe either of the extension ideas for route 335 would be very poplular by passengers using the 335.

    It would be good to have a direct bus link from the Borough of Greenwich to Bromley.

  5. CDT

    Dylan route 161 links Chislehurst and Mottingham with North Greenwich Station but runs via Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich and Lower Charlton. I do not think residents would like to see this route altered.

    However it may be possible to extend route 126 Bromley South Station to Eltham iigh Street to North Greenwich Station by re-routing the route at Eltham via Eltham Station, Well Hall Road, Shooters Hill Road, Sun In The Sands, The A102,, Commerical Way (IKEA) then as route 472 to North Greenwich Station. If this was to happen route 126 may need to be converted to Double Decker buses and or have a frequncy increase if the current single deckers continued to be used on the route.

    This would also provide the section of Shooters Hill Road between The juction with Academy Road and Well Hall Road and Sun in the Sands Roundabout with a bus service to North Greenwich Station. Which is really does need to reduce heavy traffic congestion in the area,

  6. Graham

    I still think there is scope for route 335 Kidbrooke Village to North Greenwich Station to be re-routed at Blackheath Royal Standard via Charlton Road, Charlton Church Lane, Anchor & Hope Lane and Bugbsy Way to serve the Superstores and retail Parks along Bugsby way.

    I am also convinced the route would be well use by residents on Kidbrooke Village Kidbrooke Park Road and Blackheath Royal Standard areas who wish to shop at the Charlton Retail Parks.

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