Woolwich Elizabeth line is now too popular: TfL to trial queuing system

Well, we all saw this coming didn’t we?

Woolwich Elizabeth line station is already proving too popular to cope with just one entrance and exit and so Transport for London are to trial new access measures.

Woolwich station

*sigh*

For years before opening I would bang on (here’s a post from 2015) about how a single entrance and exit at Abbey Wood and Woolwich was short-sighted. Now shortly after the line has opened we see Woolwich as a victim of its own success. And that’s with many, many housing developments nearby not even finished yet.

For those unaware the line – after decades of being rejigged this way and that in the classic UK approach to infrastructure of lengthy prevarication – was to finally to head to Abbey Wood in the 2000s. But without a station at Woolwich.

Woolwich station late at night. Rather busier at peak time

Thus begun a campaign for one.

That battle was won but at a price. Greenwich Council would have to foot a sizable bill and they’d be just one entrance and exit to the west of the station. The authority then proceeded to Royally screw up paying that bill to the detriment of the whole borough (they still havn’t paid it off years late after setting an ultra-low levy on private developers) but that’s another story.

Now the station is open and extremely popular (no shit) and so there’s congestion. From this Monday (15th January) a new queuing system will be in place for escalators.

Just the beginning

If things are bad now, well, in the words of The Carpenters we’ve only just begun.

Directly above the eastern end of Woolwich station plans are approved for residential towers. No plan is included for another station entrance and exit here to alleviate crowding.

Approved over eastern end of station

Head a short distance east of the station and three separate developments are now underway totalling 2,500 homes.

In the past week I’ve been taking photos and planning to put posts up about them soon.

Homes rising

These aren’t plans being drawn up; they’re underway.

To the south and west of Woolwich station also there’s a mass amount of developments from the Brookhill estate rebuild to Berkeley’s towers beside the Thames.

Brookhill estate rebuild will see hundreds of new homes

Again, I’ve been to see recently and am planning posts covering them.

Towers beside the Thames are well on the way.

Towers underway ahead and new builds will line road on right

Other plans come thick and fast. Last month Berkeley consulted on a further 660 homes at the Arsenal site along Beresford Street.

The old Catholic Club next door is also set to become student blocks.

Approved in 2022

Over the road and the former Woolwich Polytechnic school site will see further plans emerge at the junction with MacBean Street.

Initial plans were rejected but something will be built here and it wont be low density.

Currently on hold but many homes will eventually be built at MacBean Street site

There’s nearly 500 homes also approved behind the new town centre leisure centre.

A further smaller block is completing a short distance away from Meridian Home Start.

Almost 500 homes approved

Hundreds more homes are also approved around Tesco in Woolwich.

Here’s the block approved in front of the superstore when viewed from General Gordon Square.

Approved block facing General Gordon Square

Many more homes will be built to the rear.

And let’s not forget the Island Site.

Revised plans for the island site awaited. General Gordon Square at bottom right

Head west and there’s also new homes now rising at the old Morris Walk estate. Many of them.

New homes seen on right

Simply put, the issue of crowding is not going away.

It’s one of London’s major growth areas. The line has many existing and new transport links feeding into it including relatively recent new bus routes like the 301 from Bexleyheath.

Morris Walk site now being built in Woolwich

In the future an express bus will also link thousands of new homes in Thamesmead to Woolwich and Abbey Wood stations.

The Charlton Riverside masterplan will also see up to 8,000 homes.

North Woolwich station development approved

There’s even many developments in north Woolwich and it’s not that far a walk via the foot tunnel.

The line is acting as a magnet not only locally but from further afield.

If it’s struggling now then it has no chance in a decade of coping. It would help mind if Southeastern didn’t enact service reductions along the Woolwich line to London Bridge under government orders to cut, in turn pushing more to the Elizabeth line.

Area in foreground to see 660 homes

How long until serious action and need for a second entrance? And will that only happen when blocks are built above the eastern entrance of the station? It looks almost certain. It’ll cost more in the long term.

And Abbey Wood will be next. With Thamesmead in line for thousands of new homes alongside nearby Belvedere and Erith similar will happen there.

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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    18 thoughts on “Woolwich Elizabeth line is now too popular: TfL to trial queuing system

    • You can’t just dig another 30-metre-deep entrance to a station. That’s a massive infrastructure project. Yes, bad planning from the beginning. But probably too late to fix now.

      Reply
      • Well quite. It’s very expensive to do it later which is why I’d long argued for passive provision.

        But at what stage does it make sense? 5k new homes in the near radius? 10k? 15k.

        Woolwich is set to see vast amounts of residential development as are nearby towns. If it can barely cope now it doesn’t bode well.

        Reply
    • This shows the scale of housing coming down the pipeline but you’ve missed some out. Mast Quay is still empty while the wrangling over its future continues. In the end that will see many residents one way or another whether rebuilt or not.

      Waterfront will be closed in 2025 and developed.

      And the MOD are planning to sell much of the barracks. That’s got to be many many thousands of homes.

      And don’t the council want to build on the car parks and estates nearby? In 20 years Woolwich station won’t cope – if not long before.

      Reply
      • Just remembered the DLR sites! Maybe in 20 years…

        Woolwich does have a quite ridiculous amount of sites either being developed, with plans to develop or likely to be developed.

        Reply
      • The amount of high-rises coming to Woolwich is simply overwhelming. I reckon Woolwich Elizabeth Line station will indeed be in trouble before long with overcrowding. Something will have to be done; a new station entrance would help. However, what about platform length? That’s certainly even less feasible. Too good isn’t good too!

        Reply
    • You’ve also forgotten Woolwich Exchange over the road from the station with the old covered market. Isn’t that around a thousand new homes, shops and a cinema with it starting this year?

      Reply
    • Hong Kong mtr stations can have as many as eight entry/exit points from memory. Was always complete madness to only have one at Woolwich. Much of SE London wants to use it… and there are thousands of locals who will have moved in precisely to use that line.

      Reply
    • With public funding so scarce surely another entrance in Woolwich would be a better use of funding than a DLR station in Thamesmead? That’s costed at £1.5 bn and most people in north Thamesmead (like me) would rather go to Woolwich for the Elizabeth line anyway given how quick it is. I fear politicians and decision-makers don’t really understand what people in the area want and will want once again.

      Reply
      • I live in Thamesmead and use the Elizabeth line often however i disagree with you, Thamesmead needs its own station either london overground or DLR

        Reply
    • Ade – knowing the area well I agree. If the proposed DLR extension *did* connect to the Elizabeth line it’d be worth it but the cost doesn’t even give us that. It’s one stop from Beckton over to Thamesmead for £1.4 billion that requires a slow journey to Canning Town which is slower than heading to Abbey Wood/Woolwich on a bus (and soon to be an express bus) and connecting to the Elizabeth line.

      Thamesmead DLR as it stands is a pipedream from Peabody who cannot even build near their many existing plots around Abbey Wood station.

      Reply
      • Forgot to add that of course a single DLR has more capacity than a bus but the Thamesmead extension has a pretty low projected trains per hour. Either build the DLR connecting to the Elizabeth line or don’t bother.

        If instead we could have high frequency, high capacity and high speed transport option from north Thamesmead to Abbey Wood and Woolwich DLR stations using some of that £1.4bn DLR cost…

        Reply
    • Not to mention Dock 28 just 15 minutes walk from Woolwich Elizabeth Line, and the new Belmarsh Towers that Berkeley are popping up a little further over in Plumstead, all of which are being sold with the idea that residents can commute on the Elizabeth Line. Some of these homes are also going to increase demand on the nearby Plumstead station as well, but overall it’s hard to see how public transport in the area is going to keep up.

      Reply
    • Are they singling out Woolwich? The problem is just as acute, if not more so, at other stations. At Liverpool St peak time, if two trains arrive at the same time (both travelling in opposite directions), then the escalators get very crowded. If one of the two up escalators is out-of-order, then it can take 5-10 minutes to reach the one working. Liverpool St also has two exits.

      Reply
    • Agree that the scale of new housing may cause problems but what’s the big ‘problem’ currently? I travel regularly at peak times and unless there is disruption on the line there is never a queuing issue in the mornings, and of an evening it’s at absolute worst less than a minute of shuffling to to get to walk up the escalator…

      Reply
    • Abbey Wood is becoming a nightmare also, 1 lift from the platform to ticket hall, otherwise just stairs. The amount of people, using the lift means it can take ages to exit. Then you have the stairs down to Wilton Road. We need escalators there

      Reply
    • North Greenwich will eventually suffer the same fate I feel.

      Reply
    • Is the crowding only at the upper levels, or can we have more trains?

      We need to get the promised 10 trains an hour off peak and a clockwork like peak service without delays

      Reply
    • The 2nd entrance really should be considered as presumably the outbuilding on the far end is already needed for ventilation and possibly power. Atleast a
      feasibility report should be considered. TFL has done something similar with Battersea, an additional entrance about as deep as Woolwich is being introduced.

      It would be useful to revive a taxi rank as well. There’s an absurd number of bags now on the trains, where people tended not to bring so many bags on the piccadilly, on elizabeth they have no such reservations. A taxi rank away from the town centre would help keep people from walking the 300m to the other currently-odd national rail taxi rank, and hopefully incentivises keeping those enormous bags off the local buses.

      Reply

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