Express buses from Lewisham to Elephant & Castle proposed by Mayor

Sadiq Khan has raised the prospect of express buses along the Old Kent Road between Lewisham and Elephant & Castle if re-elected.

Buses would run along the proposed Bakerloo line extension  route which shows little sign of funding approval anytime soon.

An express route would be along the lines of recently introduced Superloop services around London and serve areas of major housing growth.

Superloop route SL3 picks up at Abbey Wood station before non-stop run to Bexleyheath station

New buses on the route will have a colour scheme adorned in brown in reference to the Bakerloo line.

While the announcement may have the whiff of a dejected game show contestant being told “here’s what you could have won”, but then again will serve as a constant reminder that the Bakerloo line extension – long planned but never funded – should one day, perhaps, be running too if central government assists.

While the Bakerloo line extension has gone nowhere for many years, housebuilding has proceeded quickly in Lewisham, along the Old Kent Road and around the Elephant and Castle.

Southern end of the Old Kent Road

One particular hotspot has been around the southern end of the Old Kent Road around the Ilderton Road junction.

This photo taken in recent days shows a tower on Ilderton Road.

Tower glimpsed from passing train

This area will place enormous strain on the somewhat isolated South Bermondsey station without any transport improvements.

Nearby are a number of student housing schemes.

Almost complete near junction with Old Kent Road

A former KFC also now sees a new student housing block on site.

Completing soon at former KFC site

Other sites in the area on the Old Kent Road itself include a new mixed-use scheme where the Aldi retail shed formerly stood. A new Aldi will be located below housing.

A nearby Lidl – formerly a Toys ‘R Us – is supposed to be a future station site.

Bakerloo line extension plan

Over recent months two other major schemes have also seen things step up a gear. Firstly, Ledbury estate redevelopment begun in February 2024.

Shortly after that funding was announced to speed up building on the Malt Street site beside Asda where 1,300 homes are approved.

A further student development is underway beside Malt Street.

Old Kent Road’s Ledbury estate replacement buildings

Many further sites have plans such as 700 homes on gasholders and a large plot demolished near the KFC student block.

That’s known as the Ruby Street triangle where almost 1,200 homes are proposed.


Lewisham Gateway

Lewisham is a hotbed of activity with one new tower now complete beside the station as part of a wider project. An express bus would attract new residents towards Lewisham with its many shops, DLR and National Rail links.

The Bakerloo line extension is due to have a station at what is currently used as a bus stand beside the station’s Platform 1.

Bakerloo line station planned beside tower on left

Other sites in Lewisham include the shopping centre redevelopment and Lewisham Gateway which is due to complete this year.

Tesco is due to redeveloped with a new supermarket as part of a mixed-use scheme.

At the other end of an express bus route sits the major Elephant and Castle development where towers are now rising on the former 1960s shopping centre.

Now underway at Elephant and Castle

Regardless of the Bakerloo line extension something needed to be done to accommodate the thousands of people moving to the area in the near future.

The express bus however is no substitute for the Bakerloo, and without action on that housing totals will be limited while South Bermondsey station looks set for a wave of added custom, which right now it would struggle to cope with.

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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.

10 thoughts on “Express buses from Lewisham to Elephant & Castle proposed by Mayor

  • I’d love someone to ask the Tory candidate Susan Hall what she plans for transport improvements in the area. I doubt she’s ever been there. Probably mumble about losing her purse and run away into waiting car.

    In all seriousness this is why the Tories are doing so badly. In decades past they would still have plans and goals for London that extended beyond zone 6.

    Going back to the early 20th century they had plans. Completely devoid of ideas now for inner London.

    • Funny you should say that as just seen a tweet from Tory GLA candidate stating express bus is a failure of policy.

      So presumably Hall will now announce support for the Bakerloo line extension and the Conservative govt will approve/support…

  • It’s a bit of a canny publicity move by Khan as extra bus capacity would be needed soon anyway due to housing totals covered in this article. There’s also a student development of around 700 homes nearing completion for September 2024 occupation visible from Asda car park beside the Malt Street site.

    Surrey Canal Road station can help a bit on Ilderton Road though Old Kent Road buses and South Bermondsey station is a bit closer – and the proposed station doesn’t even have a start date.

  • I thought old Kent road was already full of buses and that the point of the Bakerloo extension was to relieve congestion from all the buses!

  • DJL – It may have buses but they won’t be enough. With thousands more homes it will need more. They’re not supposed to be a replacement for an extension but more of a short term fix to highlight what is ultimately needed.

    • I agree with Jeff. We need more buses to serve new developments all over South East London. These new bus routes need to be normal bus routes stopping at all bus stops along the route to serve as many people (new residents) as possible.
      That said so far Sadiq Khan current Mayor For London, Geoff Hiobbs London Bus Network Developments Mansger and Louise Cheeseman Operations Director of London Buses have rejected all proposal for new bus routes or extensions of existing bus routes to serve new developments including Woolwich Kidbrooke Charlton Greenwich Peninsula and Lewisham for several years. Although they are connected on regularly basisc with new bus service proposals to serve new developments and an ever increasing local population.
      So sadly think this is a last ditch attempt to win votes at the May Mayoral Elections. Sadiq Khan and TFL are still cutting bus services by reducing frequencies on several routes a cross Greater London.

  • Take this proposal from Sadiq Khan with a pinch of salt. He has already cut the proposed bus services through the Silvertown Tunnel from 5 bus routes to two bus routes route 129 and X239 nothing from Eltham Wolwuch Chsrlton or Thamesmead and Abbey Wood through the Silvertown Tunnel.

  • He has already cut the proposed bus services through the Silvertown Tunnel from 5 bus routes to two routes. Routes 129 and X239.Despite pledging to make the Silvertown Tunnel public transport friendly. With no proposed bus service through the Silvertown Tunnel from Thamesmead Abbey Wood Plumstead Woolwich Eltham Kidbrooke or Charlton areas.

  • He has already cut the proposed bus services through the Silvertown Tunnel from 5 bus toites to two routes. Despite pledging to make the Silvertown Tunnel public transport friendly. With no proposed bus service through the Silvertown Tunnel from Thamesmead Abbey Wood Plumstead Woolwich Eltham Kidbrooke or Charlton areas.

  • It is election time so there will be a lot of promises made which will be shelved and forgotten once re-elected.
    It is time for real change in London. If London is to be a thriving and vibrant capital City attracting businesses and visitors to London or businesses will move head offices to other European cities.


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