Back in September 2010, JB raised the question of possible extensions to the Bakerloo line south from Elephant and Castle to Hayes, as in Hayes but not as in Hayes and Harlington. The former being in Kent and the latter, for those who still think in “old money” terms of Shires and sex-pence, in Middlesex.
Adding their voice to both Lewisham Council’s Sustainable Development Select Committee and TfL’s and the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, Network Rail, in the latest iteration of the London and South Eastern RUS, published in July 2011, has also come down in favour of the Bakerloo Line extension.
8.6 Gap N – Bakerloo Line
8.6.1 The established Kent RUS identified that a potential scheme to convert the Hayes branch for use by London Underground services could alleviate main line and suburban routes via London Bridge, with services on this line rerouted via a southern extension to the London Underground Bakerloo Line. Such a line would also provide additional capacity in inner South London, greatly improving travel opportunities for areas such as Denmark Hill and Camberwell. There may also be capacity relief to the Elephant & Castle corridor to Blackfriars, depending on the specific route chosen.
8.6.2 Further detailed analysis has since been undertaken, led by Transport for London (TfL).Figure 8.3 illustrates the potential future Bakerloo Line southern extension.
The Lewisham to Hayes line is a suburban branch with City services to and from Cannon Street which run all stations via Lewisham and West End services to Charing Cross and non-stop to London Bridge from Ladywell. The original aspirations of the promoters encompassed something more strategic, and hence profitable, as can be seen from the RCH pre grouping junction diagram. Their main line diverged at Elmers End to link up with the East Croydon to Oxted line at Selsdon just north of Sandersted. A spur to Addiscombe diverged just after Woodside and South Norwood.
Leaving the debate as to the route of the Bakerloo line from the Elephant to Lewisham to one side we will now take a brief illustrated if somewhat moist tour of the proposed route south.
The good news is that Lewisham is a major interchange between the Docklands Light Railway and national rail services. The bad news is that two major service streams come in from the city centre and the West End and three from Kent. Each Kent service supports both City and West End destinations and vice versa resulting in a very complex service pattern across a very complex flat junction at the west end of Lewisham Station. Trains arrive from Victoria via Nunhead and from Cannon Street and Charing Cross via New Cross, whilst in-bound country services come in from the from Hayes, Hither Green and Black Heath corridors. A flavour of the existing complexity can be seen beyond the starting signal on Lewisham’s platform one.
Relieving pressure on this pinch point is critical to Network Rail’s plans to improve service levels and reliability.
I regret to say that at this point the weather and the light declined to such an extent that I was not able to capture the yellow brick station buildings at Ladywell and Catford Bridge, the latter being on the day but a small gondola’s charter from Catford, Catford’s other station. I also chickened out of a dunking at Lower Sydenham and it was not until New Beckenham that Jupiter Pluvius relented. The station has widely separated tracks with a distinct kink at the northern end because of a long lifted central passing line.
To the south the line to Beckenham Junction diverges to the left as a Hayes bound train heads under the bridge that carries the Chatham Main Line from Beckenham to Kent House. The spur will be used by Bakerloo Trains to access Beckenham Junction which will be used as a short working turn round point allowing higher frequency services to operate along the centre of the Bakerloo line.
This picture taken from the city end of platform 2 at Beckenham Junction shows the New Beckenham line emerging on the right. At the moment trains terminating from New Beckenham arriving at Beckenham Junction do so in the bay platform, although some continue through to destinations further east. Whether one platform will be sufficient for the Bakerloo service will be an issue. A large (dry and warm) Waitrose Store now occupies the land to the north of the station previously occupied by the goods yard. It may be necessary to institute a process of stepping back drivers to ensure rapid turn rounds, together with a redoubling of the chord, the former down line now being used as a stabling siding whose buffer stop is seen next to the service platform.
On the south side of Beckenham Junction, Croydon Tramlink services terminate in the station car park. They occupy the former up line of the Beckenham Junction to Bromley Down Junction just north of Norwood Junction Services, whilst services to both Victoria and London Bridge via Birkbeck operate on the now bi-directional former down line – now known as the Crystal palace single. The Tram from Beckenham Junction skirts the north and west sides of Beckenham Cemetery, the last resting place of W G Grace.
To the south the Hayes line runs from New Beckenham via Clock House to Elmers End, just to the south of the cemetery. Elmers End is the former junction of the routes to Addiscombe, Selsdon and Sanderstead. Looking south these lines used to continue straight ahead to Woodside. Platform extensions now cover that alignment.
This former alignment has been taken over by another Tramlink Branch running from its junction at Arena with the Beckenham Junction Service. The following pictures show the old route obscured by the platform extensions and the Croydon bound tram service awaiting departure in the bay platform 1.
The footbridge at Elmers End is about the only feature of architectural significance at the station which had been badly damaged during the war by Luftwaffe bombing raids.
Following Eden Park (where through the rain dashed windows I thought I saw locals up to their shins in muddy water putting in their second crop of rice in the paddy fields they call back-gardens) I arrived at West Wickham, a composite jumble of styles, colours and structures.
Hayes has a single two faced island platform. Platform two, on the north side of the station, originally had an engine release run round loop whilst south of platform one there was a small goods yard. The land on both sides of the tracks has now been developed as car parks.
The difference in rolling stock floor and platform height at Hayes can be clearly seen above. Tube tubes have a lower floor and this barrier to disabled passengers will to some extent be mitigated. At the moment Network Rail and the TOCs operate under Grandfather’ rights with regard to disability discrimination legislation. Whether these can or should be rolled over as and when tube gauge stock is introduced is a question that must be considered, together with lifts for those stations with only one ticket office. I do, however, hope that this would not mean an end to the photographer friendly footbridges that abound on this line.
Architecturally, Hayes Station itself is yet another non-descript rebuild after war time fire bomb damage. But like the rest of the village t is in scale. As the sun finally appeared, it looked not so much a village station as a model village station.
The most striking gap in looking at the Hayes branch as a Bakerloo line is the lack of stabling. Is there space to cope with not only positioning of stock overnight but also the ability to respond to perturbation in the system? In the days of Herbert Walker’s all conquering Southern Electric the local depot was at Addiscombe but this closed, according to Joe Brown’s essential “London Rail Atlas”, in 1992. The need for station car parks and the land fever of supermarket chains has put many former railway-owned sites next to the line beyond reclamation.
Finally what is, as Shakespeare, so pithily, put it, in a name? The title of this piece is intended as Mwmbwlian flim-flam to keep JB’s inner historian on tenterhooks – it is not intended as a serious or even flippant alternative to, another champion of the pseudonym, Quex’s superb 1906 creation – the “Bakerloo”.