Tube to Lewisham? TfL now state 2040 at the earliest

The prospects of a Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road appear ever more remote as a new date of 2040 has been given – at best.

And alongside delays to any possible opening date comes a hefty price increase owing to high inflation. Delays end up costing more in the long run.

The latest plan was to see two new stations before terminating in Lewisham, though has gone nowhere despite new housing now increasing along the Old Kent Road.

Plans for an extension past Elephant and Castle are not new. Ideas of extending to the south and east have been around for almost a century.

Extension to Camberwell was featured on London transport maps almost a century ago

A proposed extension to Camberwell never happened due to World War II.

Since then plans have come and gone but no funding has ever been on the table.

Bakerloo extension plan

The latest being two stops on the Old Kent Road, one at New Cross Gate and then ending at Lewisham. Possible extensions beyond are mentioned but given the past of progress that could be even more of a pipe dream.

New housing

Remember those days in 2020 when some mistakenly said everyone was leaving London and it was in for long term decline? Yep. Not happening. The population is rising sharply again.

And while housebuilding still lags far, far behind need, a fair few projects are underway on the Old Kent Road.

Just last week central government – who have thus far refused to help fund a Bakerloo line extension to accommodate population growth – approved a loan to enable a major development to proceed near the Asda superstore.

Loan announced this month for work to resume

Berkeley Homes are calling the site Bermondsey Place. Beside that work is also underway on 676 student rooms.

Bermondsey Place was formerly know as the Malt Street development and include s1,300 homes including towers up to 44-floors in height. That level of density requires a serious improvement in transport links.

New homes now underway at Ledbury estate site

Also in the past month work has begun on new housing at the Ledbury estate with 340 homes planned.

A cluster of developments are also rising both close to and on Ilderton Road.

Completing soon at former KFC site

These include student housing on a former KFC now nearing completion.

Over the road there’s a mixed-use block at the former Aldi retail shed. That’s now well underway with 168 homes coming on site.

Old Kent Road and Ilderton Road developments with stalled Bakerloo line extension in brown. Site in red approved but not started

Another site in the area which is increasingly prominent is Bermondsey Heights.

When on a train to London Bridge take a look to the left on the final approach and you’ll see it whether on Southern or Southeastern.

Bermondsey Heights

It’ll top out at 28 storeys.

This area isn’t too far from South Bermondsey station – which is hardly the most appealing station as things stand with it’s somewhat dingy entrance.

Phase 1 towers approved near South Bermondsey station

That station alone will serve thousands of homes next door as part of the New Bermondsey project around Millwall’s ground. Adding in thousands more residents from the Old Kent Road will test its ability to cope.

A new London Overground station will hopefully be built here to help relieve the situation – but isn’t confirmed.

Closer to the junction of Ilderton Road and the Old Kent Road sits further new student blocks. Again, it’s nearing completion.

Almost complete

The closest station here is Queen’s Road Peckham served by London Overground and Southern.

Overcrowding is pretty bad now during and TfL are looking at running trains into London Bridge after Southern cut services after being ordered to make cuts by the Department for Transport and Treasury.

Dozens of Southern trains were hastily scrapped with no replacement. We’ve seen the DfT and Treasury ordering cuts to existing rail services under their control and failing to help fund new lines.

A total of 46 former Southern Metro Class 455 trains recently scrapped without replacement. Courtesy Hugh Llewelyn under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Additional Class 313s also scrapped

Those developments listed above developments are just those underway now or that appear certain to start with funding announcements.

If we step back and look at plans approved yet not yet underway the list grows rather longer. Yet as many as there are, plenty more could be built if the Bakerloo line extension was given the green light.

596-608 Old Kent Road plan approved 2019

In the recent past consultation has also been held on new housing at the gasholder site. That’ll see around 700 homes.


Tower beside Lewisham station

A planned terminus for the Bakerloo line is at Lewisham, which is also a hotbed of development. However at least there some respite will occur with new DLR trains and improved frequencies in years to come.

One tower has even been built with passive provision for a new entrance to the station.

Provision for future station entrance included in recently built Vita tower

As yet its not been opened for rail let alone any tube entrance in a far off future.

Southeastern also saw rail cuts including through Lewisham due to demands from the Department for Transport and Treasury – though there is scope to restore some axed services in future.

Taken December 2023. New build beside Lewisham station

But for much of the Old Kent Road improved transport seems a long way off. Nothing appears likely anytime soon – yet developments continue to rise.





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J Smith

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.

    3 thoughts on “Tube to Lewisham? TfL now state 2040 at the earliest

    • South Bermondsey is AWFUL. Agreed.

    • I’ve lived in Lewisham since 1989. Transport has generally improved on that time, with more frequent trains (for example 4 rather than 2 trains an hour on the Hayes line). It has to be said that suburban trains run largely empty much of the time.

      One can pretty well always argue for more and better transport infrastructure. The problem is however the enormous – both capital and running costs of railways and Underground lines. You could buy a heck of a lot of tram line (rather scandalously not expanded since 2000 in London!) bus priory schemes etc for that sort of money.

      Camberwell has not had its own station since I believe 1915 – a 1st world war closure measure) despite various proposals. Thameslink runs straight past without a stop. No train, Underground or indeed tram. It is entirely dependent on buses. The density of development on the Walworth Road corridor is greater than along the Old Kent Road and more justifies a tube extension. But people still live in Camberwell anyway and perhaps TfL and the DfT can get more money from developers on the OKR alignment. The extension of the Northern line to Battersea was ridiculous in transport terms – just glance at a map of inner South London and was essentially built to serve one posh housing development!

      We have to get better and more reliable funding, more raised locally, longer term planning focussed on existing need and not just the interests of housing developers. And somehow cut those excessive costs! Let’s remember, taxpayers largely pay for this stuff, whether or not they live anywhere near the areas concerned – or even in places the majority of which have no rail network at all!

    • @Andrew Fisher: hear, hear. Re-open the Old Kent Road, Camberwell and Walworth stations. It is beyond tedious getting to Camberwell and Walworth since I moved from zone 2 (Lewisham) 10 minutes up the road to zone 3. I would like to see the greater use of trams in London proper, but that’s another project that would be years in the making, by which time I would be too old to bother.


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