The Bakerloo line extension inched forwards yesterday. It may even be ready by 2029. Go on, take your age, add twelve and imagine how old you're going to be by the time it might possibly be finished. This isn't happening any time soon.
Last time round, which was September 2014, TfL's consultation asked which route should be taken. Would trains reach New Cross Gate via Camberwell and Peckham, or would a more direct line be taken down the Old Kent Road? And would trains terminate at Lewisham, or would they continue down to Hayes, or Beckenham, or even Bromley?
In the end, money talked. There wasn't enough cash to spend on a lengthy extension, so Lewisham would be the end of the line. And the Old Kent Road route got the nod over Camberwell because more houses could be built in the surrounding Opportunity Area, and developers would be crucial in helping to part-fund the project.
Just released, TfL's latest consultation is asking the question "What shall we knock down in order to build this?" They're not being quite that brazen, instead they're asking where the station buildings and ventilation shafts on the new extension should be, but it boils down to the same thing. And this is really important, not just for anyone who might lose their business or local amenity, but also because the precise location of two of the stations is still up for grabs.
Elephant & Castle → Old Kent Road 1 → Old Kent Road 2 → New Cross Gate → Lewisham
There is a heck of a lot of information on the TfL consultation page, because TfL planners have been doing a heck of a lot of planning since the last consultation sewed up the general route. You can't simply dig tunnels 20m below the ground without knowing what you've got to avoid and where you're going to link to the surface. Longlists for possible shafts and stations were drawn up, and analysed, and all the pros and cons totted up. [detailed report]
As many as fourteen different potential locations were considered for the two new Old Kent Road stations, most of which were too near things or too far away from things or caused too much hassle. We're left with two possible locations for what's currently called Old Kent Road 1, and two possible locations for Old Kent Road 2. And at the heart of the consultation is narrowing each of these pairs down to a single spot.
The vast majority of the maps in the consultation package are close-ups, and the two overview maps are a little vague. So I thought I'd have a go at knocking up my own overview Google map to show how all the bits of the extension might fit together. Please note that this isn't accurate, not least because nobody knows quite where the tunnels are going to go yet. But it does show where the stations might go, that's the brown blobs, and there are blue rectangles if you zoom in to give a better idea of the orientation of the station box. The three orange crosses are ventilation shafts, with a choice of two at the northern end, one of which will end up fixing the route trains take to the first extension station.
Elephant & Castle station will be getting a major upgrade. It's currently essentially two stations linked, somewhat awkwardly, and much better infrastructure is required to help passengers interchange and exit smoothly. It may be that the existing overshoot tunnels are used, or it may be that a new tunnel veers off earlier on a fresh alignment, which would require a new set of platforms. Because there's so much uncertainty, TfL have simply coloured in a large area of land around the Elephant & Castle road junction and are asking "where would it be best to locate a station?" It might be that the shopping centre gets replaced with a new station underneath, or any one of a huge number of other possible options, hence this consultation is highly significant. [factsheet]
Old Kent Road 1 station, as it's still being called, will be located near the eastern tip of Burgess Park, somewhere near the big Tesco. In one of the two options it will actually replace Tesco, with the entire supermarket and its carpark swallowed up as a worksite during the construction period. Similar games are currently being played with Sainsbury's at Whitechapel and Nine Elms, so presumably a rejigged Tesco will open later on the remainder of the site. Option two would be a location on the other side of Dunton Way, causing less damage to shopping facilities but not quite so well connected. But whichever option is chosen, the location is pretty much the same. [factsheet]
Old Kent Road 2 station remains a geographical uncertainty, with the two potential locations approximately 500 metres apart. One would be opposite B&Q, at the bottom of St James's Road, requiring the demolition of PC World. This one's close to a major new development hub, which would be good, but also unnecessarily close to Old Kent Road 1, which would be inefficient. Option two would instead cover Toys R Us and its car park, at the top of Asylum Road. This location better balances the gap between adjacent stations, but isn't as close to the aforementioned development area and would connect with fewer buses. Deciding which of these two locations wins out is key, hence this consultation is locally really important. [factsheet]
New Cross Gate is already a station, so the only question is where the Bakerloo bit goes. TfL are already convinced it needs to slot into Sainsbury's car park, sort of diagonally, and they'll need to demolish the supermarket when work gets underway. Once completed, wahey, we'll have a fresh interchange between Bakerloo, Overground and National Rail, making this the Willesden Junction of the southeast. [factsheet]
Lewisham will be the end of the line, and again there's only one location under consideration for the terminating platforms. This'll be immediately to the southwest of the existing station, where the line branches off to Hayes, pretty much on top of Thurston Road. TfL already own some of the land here and use it as a bus stand, which makes life a lot simpler (apart from the problem of where to park those buses). I note that the alignment of the platforms also allows for a further extension of the Bakerloo line towards Hayes, although that'd be extremely expensive to achieve and we'll all likely be dead before that happens. [factsheet]
A series of consultation events are taking place, starting in Elephant & Castle this Saturday, and you have until April 21st to make your thoughts heard. What gets decided will make an enormous difference to the economic geography of the Old Kent Road, in particular two as-yet-to-be-decided locations. Choose wisely.
And while you're here, let's have a prediction contest. TfL can't keep calling their two new stations Old Kent Road 1 and Old Kent Road 2, they'll eventually have to give them real names. What do you think those names are going to be? Might be the name of a road, might be the name of a place, might be the name of a housing development, who knows. A look at the map around each potential station location might help, as might this Gizmodo post with a selection of streetview images, or of course there's the TfL consultation.
Old Kent Road 1
Old Kent Road 2
Old Kent Road (Andrew)
Burgess Park (Malcolm)
Bricklayers Arms (Still anon)
Walworth East (Jack)
East Walworth (Mikey)
Old Kent Road Tesco (Alfie)
Tesco Southwark Superstore (Geofftech)
Mandela Way (Alan)
East Street Market (lockedintheattic)
Dunton Road (Patrickov)
Albany Road (Madison)
Old Kent Road West (Adrian)
Old Kent Road (solar penguin)
North Peckham (Kevin)
Peckham North (Mike H)
Peckham Gateway (Dominic H)
Peckham Park (Edward)
Peckham Park Road (Adam S)
Surrey Canal (Jo W)
Canal Bridge (Rotherhithe)
Asylum Road (Uncle Audrey)
Commercial Way (Darren S)
Old Kent Road East (Adrian)
Give us your best sensible suggestion in the comments above, either for station 1 or for station 2, and I'll add it to this table. And then we'll come back in two, five, maybe even twelve years time and see who was right.