Superloop bus SL3 from Thamesmead to Bromley starts Sat 24 February

Transport for London have confirmed that the next Superloop bus route between Thamesmead and Bromley will launch on Saturday 24th February.

The start date has been pretty much known for some time though TfL have now updated their forthcoming bus change page to confirm.

Superloop SL3 route

Upon commencing services the line will link various lines and stations with new (or faster) connections to Abbey Wood station with Elizabeth line services to Canary Wharf in nine minutes, The City in 15 plus various other areas of the capital and beyond to Heathrow and Reading.

Stagecoach will operate the route using “New Routemasters” cascaded from other parts of London with a 12 minute frequency during weekdays and Saturdays. Evening and weekend are every 15 minutes.

Route and stop (show me what you got)

SL3 will run from North Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station with just the one stop at Carlyle Road in central Thamesmead.

North Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station will take just six minutes even during peak periods. Central Thamesmead will take around three minutes. Few here would use the proposed DLR extension even if ever built.

North Thamesmead to Abbey Wood in six minutes

After Abbey Wood it runs fast to Bexleyheath station with no stops. Handy for people using the Bexleyheath line to reach Abbey Wood quicker than using the Southeastern loop line.

There are three stops in total across Bexleyheath town centre before again running non-stop to Sidcup station. This ensures all three Dartford railway lines are linked and brings many existing and forthcoming residents at new developments closer to the Elizabeth line.

New build beside SL3 route in Sidcup beside station set to complete in coming months

After that the next stop is Queen Mary’s Hospital. SL3 will speed up journeys to the site from many areas.

Next up up Chislehurst War Memorial before Chislehurst station. That’s the fourth rail line ticked off along the route with a new speedy connection to various other Southeastern line, Thameslink and the Elizabeth line.

Then SL3 stops at Bickley station before reaching Bromley town centre.

Express bus will terminate beside Bromley North station (New homes have just been approved here)

Finally the route makes it to Bromley where three stops will exist:

  • Bus Stop R – Bromley / Widmore Road located at Widmore Road
  • Bus Stop Q beside Bromley Town Hall
  • Outside Bromley North Station

On a personal level I can think of dozens and dozens of journeys I’ve taken which will now be so much easier. That trip to Chislehurst caves (well worth a visit) that took an age? Now it’s a doddle.

Trips to Sidcup for a drink? So much quicker. Shopping in Bromley? No changes now needed on dawdling, slow buses. Straight there.

SL3 passes here

It also opens up job opportunities for so many and will make life easier for existing workers.

Then there’s the healthcare benefits of fast buses to Queen Mary’s as well as journey improvements whether routine or when engineering work closes one line.

In Bromley onward Superloop travel is possible on SL5 which begun earlier this month to Croydon.

Superloop routes. No link between Thamesmead to Woolwich (or beyond) which should come soon

At the north end there’s no link at Thamesmead. Funding of £23 million has also been earmarked for a Bus Rapid Transit which would run from North Thamesmead to Woolwich.

In coming weeks a new Superloop route SL2 will commence from North Woolwich to Walthamstow.


There’s some scepticism that the Superloop network will be a success and is a hastily drawn up policy drawn up at speed for the Mayor at short notice. The speed element has a ring of truth (see old single-deckers running on a short one year contract on SL5) and that may be the case in some parts of London, but SL3 looks a winner.

It connects many people quickly and regularly to the extremely popular Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood. We already know that bus use in Abbey Wood went up 100 per cent since services begun.

SL3 also serves many growth areas though it should be more. Ideally Peabody would already be drawing up plans for the first new homes in north Thamesmead to capitalise on both this and the forthcoming £23m route to Woolwich town centre.

Peabody land lying vacant after homes demolished a short walk from Abbey Wood station.

As yet there’s nothing from them in terms of consultation or any sort of masterplan let alone actual building, which is little surprise as after 10 years now of controlling various sites in South Thamesmead and Abbey Wood close to the Elizabeth line they’ve done very little.

They seem more concerned with lobbying for the DLR that is 10-15 years off at best rather than capitalising on what exists now.

But regardless of 10 years of many Peabody failings, other areas are seeing many new homes and thus SL3 should both help existing residents and those set to move in. Bring it on.

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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.

    7 thoughts on “Superloop bus SL3 from Thamesmead to Bromley starts Sat 24 February

    • It’s all very well having a bus that doesn’t call at a stop every few hundred yards, but it still has to negotiate regular traffic. I wish I had a quid for every time I’ve been caught for 20 minutes in traffic between Sidcup station and the traffic lights at the old police station. This is going to happen every day on the SL3.

      Additionally, while a bus that only calls at a few stops might well make for a fast journey, if it doesn’t call anywhere near a place where you might want to get on or off, it’s not going to be a great deal of use.

      • Bexley has one of the highest car ownership rates of London borough’s, it’s estimated that 80% of journeys are under 2 miles, these stats’s have to change for the benefit of bus users, it’s the reason for the traffic jams.
        This new route links all of Dartford rail links and will appeal to those looking to make these links quickly. I think it’s something to be applauded rather than find fault in.

    • I agree Tim I would rather have seen more investment inproving local bus services simproving frequencies and introducing new local bus routes so more people can take more local journeys by bus. I can see the SL3 getting delayed on some of the roads around Abbey Wood etc. As the New Routemaster buses are longer than conventional double deckers have to negotiate passing park cars and buses traveling in the opposite direction on some narrow roads.

      • The SL3 will be a huge success, particularly the section from Thamesmead to Sidcup.
        People in Bexleyheath have been complaining that they don’t have a fast link to the Elizabeth line and now they’ll have a bus where it’s just one stop from Bexleyheath Station to Abbey Wood Station. This means cheaper fares for many!
        A fast bus from Thamesmead to Bexleyheath is perfect for shoppers especially even better for those people who want to go from Thamesmead to Queen Mary’s hospital at Sidcup as the 229 takes the scenic route to get there.
        Yes, improving local stopping routes might seem like a good idea but these routes are already in place and this opens up more options for cheaper and faster bus travel with new links. Potentially, you can travel from Thamesmead to Croydon in just over an hour which would only be marginally quicker on a train having to go in and back out of central London.
        The success of the SL5 has shown that these buses do work and like the SL5 the SL3 will be massively popular with commuters and shoppers wanting to shave time off their journeys.
        Remember, that buses that are limited stop can use alternative roads to get their next stop if this an option for example on the section between Abbey Wood and Bexleyheath stations.
        I predict that when the renewal for the contract comes up next year for both the SL3 and SL5 that on of the requirements will be an increase to the PVR.

    • I would have like to have seen an X122 bus route introduced around the South Circular via Plumstead Woolwich, Westhorne Avenue, Yorkshire Grey, Lee Green, Lewisham, Ladywell, Brockley, Forest Hill, Sydenham and Crystal Palace. Route X122 could be extended to serve Belmarsh and Thamesmead.

      • I agree Graham. The 122 is nearly full by the time it leaves the bus stop by the Woolwich Covered Matket bound for Crystal Palace. This route is well used by passengers using the Woolwich Elizabeth Station.

    • I’m more than sure this route will be a success, getting to Abbey Wood from Bexleyheath has not been ideal. This will half the time of this journey . Currently buses from 6.30am are packed going to Woolwich to pick up Elizabeth line services. A direct route like this will take the pressure off other routes I’m sure.
      Well done TFL I think this is an excellent idea.


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