Woolwich to Thamesmead £23m Bus Rapid Transit funds must be spent by 2026

Plans for an express bus between north Thamesmead and Woolwich must be spent by 2026 according to a new Transport for London report.

Transport for London’s Bus Action Plan states that £23 million announced in the 2023 budget needs to be spent within the next two years.

What the route will entail remains unknown. Superloop route SL3 started last week and runs in part from Abbey Wood station to north Thamesmead.

SL3 at Abbey Wood having arrived from Thamesmead

The next express Superloop route SL2 starts this weekend from North Woolwich to Walthamstow, though there’s no express superloop route between the two linking north Thamesmead and Woolwich.

Whether the £23 million scheme is part of, or branded as Superloop, remains to be seen.

Proposed express bus long been planned

It will link north Thamesmead to Woolwich town centre to connect with the Elizabeth line, DLR, Southeastern and Thameslink in around 5-10 minutes end to end.

Calling it “Bus Rapid Transit” brings to mind schemes that run on tracks such as seen on the Cambridge Guided Busway and Bristol’s BRT scheme.

Bus Rapid Transit in Cambridge

However there’s little need for such an expensively engineered project on guided tracks between north Thamesmead and Woolwich – at at least with a bus.

Wide roads exist along the entire route with ample scope for dedicated bus lanes.

BRT also allows higher speed running, but TfL are hardly likely to encourage that in built up areas when they’re pushing for 20 mph speed limits.

Road between Thamesmead and Plumstead en route to Woolwich

Though higher speeds limits already exist which buses can use.

An express bus will also likely call at one stop – at most – near Plumstead station so no need for many stops such as these seen at Cambridge.

BRT stops in Cambridge

That stop will allow those in north Thamesmead to access Plumstead station plus provide a link for almost 2,000 homes now rising in the area.

The total amount at this site was recently increased and work on a couple more blocks has started.

Plumstead gyratory runs past many new homes now under construction

Given the £23 million appears to be for capital spend and not operational costs, where will it go?

New high capacity electric buses? Either triple axel double-deckers or the return of bendy buses?

Could it also fund bigger changes to the Plumstead gyratory?

Plumstead gyratory and station area. Work on 2,600 homes underway in the area across three sites

Before work begun on many new homes it was mentioned that reworking the gyratory could be an option. When it came time to approve plans, ambitious plans had been ditched.

Pedestrian improvements

We also know that Greenwich Council recently consulted on changes to the area where the one-way system reaches Plumstead station. Could it be part funded by this cash?

Proposed changes

Lots of questions, and Transport for London have been contacted for comment.

It’s also evident that a separate project also recently consulted upon covering Woolwich town centre didn’t mention the £23million bus project at all.

TfL plan for Woolwich recently shown. No mention of express BRT route

Nor do renders suggest any expensive, highly engineered Bus Rapid Transit route.

It’s likely some form of consultation will emerge soon or news in council reports. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more.



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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.

5 thoughts on “Woolwich to Thamesmead £23m Bus Rapid Transit funds must be spent by 2026

  • Let’s hope that TFL introduce the new bus toute by 2026. I still think normal high frequency bus route between North Thamesmead and Woolwich using single or double deckers would be sufficient as the route will be relative short. This would also reduce the need for expensive guided bus ways.. Bus lanes could be introduced on wider roads where space allows with out disrupting or delaying other traffic.

  • Any more updates on the proposals for a new bus route between Thamesmead North and Woolwich?
    I agree that a high frequency bus service using conventional electric or hybrid buses and existing roads serving all bus stops. Would be more beneficial to residents. It would also be the most cost effective way to introduce this new bus route.

    • I would terminate the new proposed bus route North Thamesmead to Woolwich at Woolwich Common (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) due to limited bus stand space at Woolwich. So the new route would serve the hospital as well as both Abbey Wood and Elizabeth Line Stations.
      I also agree it should be a high frequency stopping bus service serving more bus stops.

  • Superloop Route SL3 is currently not showing up on the London bus Route tendering pages for2024-2025 or 2025-26. The current contract for the SL3 was awarded for 1 year 2 months from February 2024 meaning the route should be re-tenderd for a new contract from the end of April 2025.
    With the tender process currently taking place with the tender award being announced later this year.
    This could mean the current contract could be extended for a few more yesrs or route SL3 being axed at the end of the current contract in April 2025.
    I still have an uneasy feeling that if Sadiq Khan wins another term as Mayor of London we will see more cuts to bus services. Despite the need for more bus services to meet the demand of a growing population and more people now reliant on local bus services to get around has cannot afford the daily ULEZ charges to drive their cars.

  • Thank you for the update John. Now the new tender has been confirmed for route SL3 for another 7 years from January 2025 with new electric double deckers. Replacing the existing new bus for London buses known as Routemasters.
    Perhaps the new oroposed bus routeif and when it happens from North Thamesmead to Woolwich could be extended to go through the Silvertown Tunnel giving residents of Thamesmead Abbey Wood plumstead Woolwich Charlton a bus service through the tunnel.
    Five bus routes were proposed to use the Silvertown Tunnel when Sadiq Khan was pushing to get the approval for the tunnel to go ahead. This was quickly cut back to two bus routes axing the proposed bus route to Eltham via Woolwich and Charlton along with two other routes which would have terminated on the Greenwich side of the Tunnel one at North Greenwich Station I believe. Now both the Silvertown Tunnel and Blackwall Tunnel are both to be tolled (pay to use) so we urgently need more bus routes to serve the Silvertown Tunnel from South East London areas to improve cross river bus services.


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