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Thamesmead, Transport

DLR to Thamesmead to see £1 million for study. Abbey Wood interchange scrapped

TfL have issued a press release this morning on a DLR extension to Thamesmead.

I can see politicians getting very excited but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Just £1 million is to be spent which is chicken feed in terms of overall funding needed to progress this project.



The extension would unlock land at Tripcock Ness for up to 15,000 homes though a map in the press release shows the DLR heading no further into Thamesmead. The plan follows a consultation I covered in January 2020.

No rail link to Abbey Wood

It would not reach Abbey Wood station to offer residents a connection with Crossrail and Southeastern services and be of limited use to many existing residents.

DLR would terminate around top roundabout

For most current residents it’ll be no quicker to reach major areas of employment if a DLR link is constructed only as far as Tripcock Ness. A bus to Abbey Wood then Crossrail or Southeastern would still trump a DLR in terms of timing and destination choice.

The press release states:

  • £1m joint funding package, fully funded by external partners, agreed for the next stage of technical work on proposed extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Beckton Riverside and Thamesmead
  • Work will help refine route options, environmental impacts and transport benefits of potential extension
  • Announcement comes as Mayor confirms creation of the new Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area Planning Framework, which will help deliver more than 15,000 new homes
  • A DLR extension could also support up to 15,000 new homes in the Beckton Riverside area

However let’s not forget TfL are in severe financial difficulties and central Government show very little willingness to fund infrastructure projects. The Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham has no confirmed funding.

Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe stated:

 “We’ve been making the case for improved public transport for residents in the east of our borough for many years and we’re happy that TfL and the Mayor of London are taking this seriously. With thousands more homes planned for Thamesmead, the DLR extension in particular is an option we really want to see made a reality. 

“It’s been more than 50 years since the first homes in Thamesmead were built, and thousands more will be built over the coming years. We’re serious about improving air quality and tackling the climate emergency so enabling new and existing residents to walk, cycle and use public transport is crucial.” 

TfL state this move is a result of the adoption of the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood Opportunity Area Planning Framework. I will cover that in a future post – though during consultation it almost entirely ignored Abbey Wood with arbitrary boundaries slicing Abbey Wood in two – and Greenwich Council failed to raise this oversight. A quick look into the December 2020 draft shows mistakes within opening paragraphs.

Bus transit

The press release also states “support work on other transport options within the OAPF will also be carried out including options for a rapid bus corridor”. Yet in just the past two months major developments on the proposed Bus Transit route failed to allocate any income from S106 income to the project. Those being 6,000 homes at Greenwich Peninsula and 1,750 at West Thamesmead gateway. There was no mention of the project in regards to Community Infrastructure Levy income either.

Click to enlarge. 1960s plan for major Thamesmead town centre, a proposed railway station, tunnel and Jubilee Line were never built

What seems to be the plan now is – at best – a bus transit that mirrors the 472 bus route. No more than that. That’s similar to the original plan from the 2000s which started as a tram, then trolley bus then eventually a rebranded 472 bus. The history of that project can be seen here.

Courtesy TfL. Trolley bus plans in early 2000s scheme.

In coming days we may see lots of happy statements from local authorities and politicians. In reality I wouldn’t expect much to happen anytime soon and if/when it does, a limited crossing will not impact the rest of Thamesmead to any great degree if it doesn’t link to Abbey Wood station. A bus – no matter what it’s branded – is not the DLR or London Overground. The 472 already exists as do other routes. It’s a lack of ambition and funding which denies what is really needed, and has been for 50 years, in a high quality link that benefits the majority of Thamesmead and offers interchange potential.

On the plus side it does open up undeveloped land for many much needed new homes.

A follow up post will look at the long term plans for Abbey Wood and Thamesmead. A consultation earlier this year on the key document guiding change and investment up to 2041 apparently saw no response form Greenwich council or local cllrs Denise Hyland and Clive Mardner. Bexley Council did respond alongside local Cllr Ann Marie Cousins and MP Abena Oppong-Asare. 

Respondents

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5 Comments

  1. BG

    Hahaha as if this will happen. It’s a sop to point at as Silvertown is built. As you state for people in most of Thamesmead it offers nothing that isn’t already there with a bus towards Abbey Wood being the only real option for trains if it barely reaches into north Thamesmead.

    Had to laugh at Thorpe’s comment. He is silent on Silvertown alongside utter nonsense about being serious about walking and cycling as you highlight regularly.

    Same old tosh from the town hall. Actions not words.

  2. Roy

    I still remember Crossrail was going to bypass Woolwich until Berkeley Homes got involved

    Useless Council….nothing ever changes…poor Leaders…poor staff and implementation

  3. Harry

    Was clear DLR will not get to Abbey Wood since they said it would cost too much as a lot of demolishing would be needed, hence why they study further to connect to NR at Belvedere. Probably 2030-2040 and after Crossrail will be extended too.

    If there’s ever going to be that Overground extension south of the river from Barking Riverside, it will need to be all underground till Abbey Wood. But that’s a very expensive project for the foreseeable future.

  4. Chris Nash

    It’s strange how married to this idea the various councils (and TfL) seem to be. It’ll be obsolete before it’s even opened – by then we’ll have had the Elizabeth Line for several years, with a 10 minute journey to Canary Wharf becoming the norm. Who wants to trundle through Tower Hamlets for half an hour? The number of people it would benefit would be tiny; it would help people who work in Beckton or students studying at UEL, and very few others.

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