In Part 1 of this series we saw how and why the Tanners Hill Flydown came into existence. We also reported on the apparent need to double it in advance of enhanced Thameslink services, and the desire to do the work before major Thameslink construction at London Bridge commenced, during which fewer platforms would be in use at London Bridge.

In July 2011 Balfour Beatty was awarded the contract to carry out the work. Work at the site started in earnest during Easter 2012, which included replacing the existing track on the flydown and installing the necessary extra point on the up Nunhead line. This will enable a connection to the future up line on the flydown.

Christmas is a time for Engineering Work

With a major project like this there was a limit to how much work could be done in advance of the main work. Even so the advance work was reported as being enormously disruptive for the residents. The only realistic time to do the main work was between Christmas and the New Year, as this was the only time South Eastern services can cope with all commuter traffic through this area only being able to use two tracks. This resulted in a preferred completion date of May 2013, when Thameslink work would start to affect London Bridge.

There was an awful lot of project planning to be done. Applications to Lewisham council included an incredible level of detail of the works involved and what steps would be carried out to minimise noise. This included the hydraulic bursting of a bridge abutment to be demolished, rather than the traditional noisy “pecking” of the structure with a jackhammer. For this purpose holes had been drilled into the structure the previous Easter.

Clearly the residents had concerns. The website mentioned gives more details.

Lewisham Council were heavily involved as their approval was needed. In reality though, all they could do was oversee and ensure that Network Rail had done everything reasonable that they could do to minimise disruption and complied with all the statutory procedures. Inevitably the work would involve a lot of noise due to the amount of concrete breaking required and one can understand the frustration of the residents in being subjected to this over Christmas.

Advance Works

Although the real work started in earnest just before Christmas 2012 quite a lot of advanced work was carried out. The following photos show the work done which had to be done during the limited possessions available.

This picture shows the base for the new abutment behind the signal. Once in place the metal span can be supported and the remainder of the bridge demolished.

The steel support is now in place.

The sides of the bridge now need to be strengthened at the point where they are above the steel support.

It is now clear exactly where the second track will go

The Christmas Blockade

By Christmas Day a new temporary point had been installed leading to an extremely short temporary siding which improved rail access to the bridge span due to be demolished. The next few days saw the existing masonry span demolished and the abutments removed. The bulk of this work was in fact done with a jackhammer and was very noisy. Although the level of noise dropped dramatically as one went further from the site, it could be heard within quite a large residential area.

On Boxing Day everything was ready for demolition to start

By the 28th December the concrete abutments had still not been completely demolished and removed, and it looked like work was well behind schedule. Breaking concrete is an engineer’s nightmare when on a tight schedule as it can give unexpected problems. When installing the famous “umbrella” at Oxford Circus, for example, during construction of the Victoria line the most difficult and problematic part of this complex job turned out to be removing the cobblestones, which were set in very hard concrete and were completely resistant to pneumatic drills.

Finally the abutments are removed and there is room for a second track

It appears from a reader’s comment on Part 1 of this article that there was indeed a problem and as a result the mobile crane that was on site for many days (no doubt at great expense) was of very limited, if any, use. The setback would have almost certainly have been due to the unexpected hardness of the concrete and must have had a considerable impact on length of time residents were subject to extreme noise levels, which would have undoubtedly have been higher than predicted.

It is believed that this temporary footbridge always was part of the plan, but it was also part of the plan that below it would be the extended bridge but awaiting utilities and resurfacing work.

The extension to the bridge. We will have to wait and see when this will be installed.

There are lots more (over 200) pictures available in Unravelled’s St Johns set in the LR Photo Pool, for those who are interested in seeing more. There are also a few “propaganda pictures” taken by the residents including this mildly amusing one.

The future

One would hope the setback with this aspect of the Thameslink Programme can be recovered from quite quickly so that it does not impact on later work. It is a very small part of the Thameslink Programme and it is not immediately clear from the works documents whether it is a critical part or not. We will look into this and any consequential revised timescales. In the future we look forward to reporting on the bigger works involving the Bermondsey Diveunder and of course the massive changes at London Bridge. On top of that we will of course do articles on the historical background so that one can understand why we are where we are.

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There are 136 comments on this article
  1. Greg Tingey says:

    So, they now need (As well as completing the “hanging-in-the-air” bridge) to … lay a full second track down the slow, forming the new down line up the slope (ahem) & connect it to the new point ahown in the oictures … and signal all of that & presumably remove the “splitting” line shown in the Boxing Day photograph, for track simplification ….
    Anything else?

  2. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Reinstate all the utilities that have been severed by the bridge and landscape the flat area to the side of the flydown for starters. Before they can lay the second track they will need to remove the passenger overbridge support that is in the way. And there is site clean up of course.

    It is a lot of work. When people suggest we need a flying junction here and a new underpass there I often wonder if they have any comprehension of the amount of work involved starting with the Transport and Works Order Application. And then there is all the planning and the mountain of paperwork before anything actually takes place on the ground.

  3. Jeanpierre says:

    Excellent pt1 and pt2 articles and photography.

    I can remember the area in the late 1950’s, when I was growing up in New Eltham, especially when my father was on the Holborn Viaduct-Dartford train that was due to cross the ex-SER mainline before the bridge was downed by the Lewisham crash in 1957.

    While I sympathise with the St John’s area residents, the work being carried out will no doubt ultimately improve their train service: you can’t make an omelette, etc. I remember reading of people living next to the West London Line complaining when the Clapham Junction-Kensington Olympia shuttle was expanded in the late 1980’s/early ’90’s into a regular interval service between CJ and Willesden Junction. The answer to their complaints was along the lines of, “You live next to a railway line, whether there is one train a day or one every five minutes”.

    The current Tanners Hill works could, with a bit of imagination, open the door to extension of the London Overground ELL New Cross branch.

  4. ngh says:

    PoP @ 02:07pm

    Some of us do, the worst for planning at the moment is wind farms with circa a third of the total man hours* on an onshore project involving planning.
    (*inc. turbine parts manufacture in factories).

    Thinking (very) long term the new (still to be fitted) bridge deck over the twin track fly down looks to have insufficient clearance for OHLE. Lowering the track would make the gradient even worse so is raising the deck in the future the only real option when they want to get rid of the 3rd rail? Another failure to future proof this bridge?
    Or were they going to jack the existing deck up slightly further when the new concrete buttress is there?

    An interesting observation looking at the photos: The existing steel bridge has been shorten by ~18″ and the new concrete buttress will support the existing deck with the new section of the bridge bolted to the old and not directly supported from below. The new section appears to be manufactured to slope upwards to the west at a steeper angle more than the existing one. The additional platework welded on will largely be there so the new part can be bolted to the old.

    One of Unravelled’s later photos (2 Jan 2013) shows the new supports for the footbridge in place so that removal of the existing support is relatively quick and easy (if all the 16 nuts will loosen).

  5. jn says:

    @jeanpierre finally someone sees that new cross is crying out for expansion into the south east, although let’s not get into pathing issues into London Bridge! I think more likely is the southeastern franchise coming under Boris control and then placing some Hayes services onto the ell at new cross and running them through to dalston… It could provide 4tph via catfotd into Canada water and would just require some cannon street via hither green to not stop at Lewisham and that should avoid any conflicts at Lewisham junction 🙂

  6. stimarco says:

    Boris can’t take over the Southeastern franchise as most of it is well outside the GLA’s remit.

    Boris could, potentially, ask for the franchise to be split into “metro” and “long-distance” divisions and bid for the metro part, but the problem is that the metro services aren’t segregated from the long distance trains the way the Tube and mainline networks are north of the river, so long-term solutions would be needed to deal with that over the medium term. (E.g. “fast” tunnels taking the fast services off the metro lines as they approach London – but this requires building at least 2-3 more “Thameslink”-type tunnels beneath London in order to give all the local services somewhere to go.

    London is going to have to grab this nettle at some point, but I doubt now is the time.

    As for running the ELL down to Hayes: you’d need to extend the platforms on the Thames Tunnel section for that to be even remotely viable as Hayes services are currently up to 10 cars in length and are rammed during the peaks.

    On top of which, you’ll probably have to run the ELL in tunnel under Lewisham Junction as Network Rail would expect any such extension to remove the Hayes branch from the complex junctions around Lewisham, freeing up capacity. That means an underground station at Lewisham and, ideally, one in the vicinity of St. Johns to allow the latter to close. There’s a long run from Lewisham to Nunhead, and some suitably wide cuttings near Tressillian Road, which would provide an ideal site for an interchange station, with the ELL platforms below. (There’s no need for the ELL to have a station at New Cross too given the existing branch via New Cross Gate, but passive provision for one could be provided.)

  7. ChrisMitch says:

    I think you are gold-plating the requirements for an ELL extension to Hayes somewhat.
    I don’t see why a new station at Lewisham would be required – the new southern section of the Overground shares track and platforms with Southern and Southeastern trains at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill.

    And presumably increased train frequency could compensate somewhat for the necessarily shorter trains on the Hayes branch…

  8. mdb says:

    Increased frequency on the Hayes branch to cope with sorter trains; but where would those trains go? The ELL is now at 16tph and I don’t think there is all that much space for more?

  9. Jeanpierre says:

    Thank you jn!

    I was thinking more along the lines of extending the Overground to Bromley North (and on to Bromley South in tunnel), seeing that the Hayes branch seems to be earmarked for incorporation into the Bakerloo Line at some point.

  10. Anonymous says:


    Tfl/Boris have already submitted a request to take over parts of the Southeastern rail network. Lines starting from Dartford, Sevenoaks and Hayes are what they’ve asked for, the news came out over the summer if I remember. The fact some stations lie outside London doesn’t seem to matter, not that it should imo.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It would seem during my visit yesterday that most of the services appear to be intact over the bridge. There is a steel frame holding them in place parallel to the temporary footbridge, the latter, I was told was a contingency in the event of the bridge not being completed using the steel fabrications in one of the pictures seen above.

  12. mr_jrt says:

    If you take the SSL as a guide, then in theory 32tph are possible, even with the flat junctions all over the SSL network.

    Realistically though without ATO everywhere, and to borrow the phrase, London will have to grasp the nettle at some point and build more tunnels. In my comment on part 1 I mentioned the long-lost opportunity to cheaply give the NLR a second tunnel due to the cost-cutting that led to the DLR (though, realistically it could only serve destinations west of Peckham without some tunnelled chords), but it’s all still possible – it just gets much more expensive when you have to tunnel everything for most of the distance and demolish things people have gotten used to being there.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I actually enjoyed the fact that locals were being inconvenienced in this article. Nimbys get their way so often it fun to see them getting their just deserts. If only it would happen more often.

  14. Mack says:

    I wish people would stop wanting to expand the limited LO services. If you wanted Hayes trains to go to ELL you’d need to run every train to Hayes to give them the same capacity.

    Forcing 4 (or even 5) car trains onto Lobdon is stupid as more places require 10-12 cars so 4 car railway is a bad idea. There’s a reason why the ELL is so busy, it’s got the shortest train for a mainline service.

    TfL have not tried to take over Southeastern services. They have proposed to take over certain metro services only but require the DfT to spilt the franchise in half. However what they’ve failed to look at is what else is running as they want the Catford Loop yet only the 2tph of the expected 6-8tph around the Loop will be TfL (all others Thameslink). They may just take over stations instead in some areas.

    Also they propose more trains yet Boris or TfL haven’t tried to explain where this money will come from.

  15. Greg Tingey says:

    The current “thinking” is more along the lines of extending DLR Lewisham – Grove Park – Bromley N.

    Alternatively, tram from Addington Village – Hayes – Bromley S – Bromley N Grove Park ….
    The latter is really blue-sky, though.

    The Bromley N branch is ripe for tram conversion or DLR conversion or tram conversion – the reason the latter is a good idea is trams down the centre of the large & long Bromley town/shopping centre.

  16. stimarco says:


    “I think you are gold-plating the requirements for an ELL extension to Hayes somewhat.”

    Not even slightly. If anything, I’m being very conservative.

    “I don’t see why a new station at Lewisham would be required – the new southern section of the Overground shares track and platforms with Southern and Southeastern trains at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill.”

    The route via Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill is four tracks wide. Lewisham station has four platforms, but they’re on separate routes, converging at a complex flat junction. The pair serving the Hayes, Sidcup and Grove Park routes have just two tracks, are sharply curved, have a 20 mph permanent speed restriction and complex (flat) junctions at both ends. There’s a reason why you hear “This service is fast to Ladywell” so often at London Bridge: many trains have to use the four-track bypass viaduct that doesn’t serve Lewisham at all.

    Any extension of the ELL through Lewisham to either Hayes or Grove Park must have its own tracks as the trains will be too short for just 4-6 tph. to be sufficient to provide sufficient passenger capacity. Even Bromley North gets quite a lot of use during the peaks.

    Re. Bromley North: I agree with Greg Tingey on making this a Tramlink extension. Extending the DLR to Bromley North would be much more expensive – you’d have to replace the existing DLR station at Lewisham completely, for a start. (An underground station would be less visually intrusive than a viaduct soaring way above the mainline station, but either would be a major civil engineering job.)

    I have suggested extending Tramlink to Bromley via Hayes in the past, though I can’t remember if I did so here.

  17. Pedantic of Purley says:

    you hear “This service is fast to Ladywell”
    Is this correct? I thought modern announcements only told you at which stations the train did call at.

    Re: Lewisham DLR extension
    (An underground station … would be a major civil engineering job.)
    Not least because it would have to go under the River Quaggy.

  18. timbeau says:

    Stimarco – if you dedicated the flydown to them, trains to and from the Hayes line can reach the south side of the main line formation via the existing platforms at Lewisham without interfering with anything other than the few services using the Nunhead spur. The problem is that once they reach the bottom of the flydown they would have to mix it with the fast lines as far as New Cross (where you could reinstate the connection to the ELL). Unless widening the No need for platforms on this connection at NX, as passengers from SE destinations could change at Lewisham to connect with the ELL, (although it would mean going one stop in the wrong direction from St Johns).
    The problem is that once they reach the bottom of the flydown they would have to mix it with the fast lines as far as New Cross (where you could reinstate the connection to the ELL on that side of the formation). Widening the formation may be possible between NX and St Johns – it would certainly be cheaper than a new station at Lewisham.

    The other problem is that if 4tph, and 4- or 5-car trains, is all that can be fitted on the NX branch of the ELL, this is a significant reduction in capacity compared with the existing servivce on the Hayes branch service. It would either have to be augmented with some services from Charing Cross, or take services from some other branch of the ELL – perhaps only 4tph via NXG, (serving only one of Crystal palace and West Croydon, with Southern taking the other one back?

    ELL extension to Bromley North seems a better option for the capacity available, but the sticking point again is capacity between New Cross and Llewisham

  19. Anonymous says:

    With an extension of ELL to Bromley North via Lewisham wouldn’t there also be more conflicting moves on flat junctions at Hither Grove and Grove Park which would reduce capacity for other services to operate?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Think it’s more likely that Southern services through Queens Road could be taken over by LO.

    Looking at what Southern services Southern run through there now, mostly LBG to West Croydon via Norbury. And LBG to Beckenham Junction via Crystal Palace.
    With the odd service to Epsom and Wimbledon mostly during peak.

    The fact that LO operate at stations at either end of these services could be seen as a them having a claim to taking them over. Which would see LO gain the prize of running into a major London Terminus, London Bridge.

    Also don’t think it helped when the Southern franchise (not sure if it was the current or previous TOC) moaned about having to run short ‘Metro’ services and wanted more money from the Dft to run them as they believed there main business to be moving long distance commuters.

    Are they still moaning now that a credible alternative TOC has appeared who would gladly run them instead?

    *although lately I have had occasion to use Catford Station. And to only have 2tph in either direction is a criminal waste.

  21. Anonymous Duck says:

    Here is a link to a video showing cross rail bridge demolition

  22. Mwmbwls says:

    Unravelled strikes again – Tanners Hill makes it on to the TV

  23. Anonymous says:

    I’d love to see London Overground extended into south-east London but there has to be at least a 15-minute service off-peak from every station on the line as a minimum. If it can’t provide this then you risk diluting the LO brand.

    The Orpington-Victoria line has this most of the time Mon-Sat except early morning and after 8:30ish in the evening when I assume capacity is spare and in theory trains could run at 15-minute intervals. However some morning peak trains run as semi-fasts and others start from Bromley South and Beckenham Junction which goes against the metro idea.

    I think some years ago the government-owned Southeastern franchise proposed a service every 15 minutes on the Hayes line with all trains running to Cannon Street but I believe this was pulled due to public opinion. I think a lot of commuters living in south-east London will object to a service which doesn’t go direct to Charing Cross/London Bridge/Cannon Street (take your pick) which is why sadly any proposal to extend the Bakerloo to Hayes faces a rebellion despite the obvious benefits of a very frequent service into the heart of the West End including Charing Cross.

    Is Boris looking to take over all Southeastern Metro routes or just cherry pick those that can be run separately and have room for capacity increases?

    If London Overground were to take over key Southeastern routes would it get dedicated platforms at the relavent termini? This is something that would again set it apart from longer distance and other metro services.

  24. Benedict says:

    I have in my posession a video by British Rail entitled ‘Operation London Bridge’ which explains the last major project of the 70’s at the time. Its in .mp4 format, 16 mins long, 252mb, and has some **extremely** good footage of the rail scene at the time.

    I have no way of posting it online for people to view (no youtube account, no flikr, etc), however if one of the LR admins can offer a way around this please drop me an email and I’ll send it on.

    Thanks very much.

  25. stimarco says:

    @Pedantic of Purley:
    They were still making those announcements at London Bridge and Waterloo East when I was living in the area and using the route regularly, but I moved out in late 2008 and it’s possible things have changed. (I can also remember the “Not calling at St. Johns” announcements, but those seemed to have been replaced by the “Fast to Ladywell” ones before I left London.)

    Also, Lewisham station sits right on top of the confluence of two rivers: the Ravensbourne and the Quaggy. The resulting river becomes Deptford Creek as it approaches the Thames. The main civils issues would be either waterproofing an underground station – the ground here is sand and loam, which aren’t ideal for building underground structures in, although it is technically possible to do so – or building massive concrete piers for a very high viaduct over the top of the present station. Neither option is going to be cheap.


    The problem with using Lewisham’s Sidcup platforms is that the trains approaching from the ‘country’ end have to start crawling into them from a bloody long way out. The junctions to the south are tight, curved, and very slow. Trains crawl into the station, and they’re already crawling long before they’re in sight of the passengers waiting on the platform. Even at the ‘London’ end, the trains are creeping along at just 20 mph.

    It’s these speed restrictions, and the sharp curves that require them, that create the main capacity problem. Lewisham simply cannot handle any more trains because there are only so many you can pump along these slow tracks.

    That’s why, when the powers that be decided to quadruple the main line through Lewisham and Chislehurst, they didn’t simply widen Lewisham’s Sidcup platforms: they literally built a bloody great four-track bypass on a brand new viaduct! (It’s the London end of this viaduct that the Tanners Hill Flydown “flies” over.) This was a classic engineering kludge that was built because it was much cheaper than trying to fix the main cause: the poor siting and alignment of the present station.

    Lewisham station, for all its pretensions of being a major hub interchange, is nothing of the sort: many services use that bypass viaduct instead and do not call there.

  26. @stimarco

    “Not calling at St Johns” implied calling at New Cross and Lewisham unless otherwise stated. “Fast to Ladywell” implied not stopping between London Bridge and Ladywell. But with the automated announcements you don’t hear those anymore.

    I based my comment on the Quaggy on the fact that the information board on platform 3 (from where you can clearly see the river that is the issue) refers only to the Quaggy. On Streetmap the Quaggy joins the Ravensbourne just to the north of the station. Again, according to Streetmap (and my understanding) it is still the Ravensbourne at that point. It only becomes Deptford Creek when it becomes tidal because that is what a creek is. Because it is tidal that is why you really do not want to be up the creek without a paddle.

    I am going to briefly mention the issues of extending the DLR from Lewisham in another article. I cannot visualise how you could achieve the necessary height or depth as appropriate after leaving Elverson Road so any solution along these lines will not only be not cheap – it will be mindbogglingly expensive.

    I never understood just why Lewisham was such a bottleneck and a constraint on capacity. Thanks for enlightening me.

  27. Mack says:

    Building an underground station at Lewisham is do-able. I’ve got some plans from the 1970s for the Fleet line station there including an underground station as well as the surface options. With modern technology there’s no issue in building it, especially after the JLE was built through sands.

    Note that post Thameslink Programme (hopefully 2018) Lewisham will be at capacity and unable to take anything else. That may include train lengths as extended dwell times and clearing junctions could unduly affect timetable and wreck the peaks.

  28. Greg Tingey says:

    There are several “imaginative” proposals around for a much-needed, but automatically going-to-be-very-expensive complete rebuild & usually re-site of Lewisham station …..
    The “Fast to Ladywell” announcements were still occasionally audible at London Bridge as recently as November …..

  29. JamesC says:

    @PoP – surely simplifing the planning process is what needs to happen first. Thsse large scLe projects almost always go ahead eventually (usually pushed through by the goverment over the objection of local people I may add), and dragging these things out for years only wastes money that could be better spent elsewhere. The simple answer is if you chkose to live within the M25 you are going to have to expect some construction work from time to time (again I must admit that some people don t ‘choose’ to live there

    Moving on….. ELL to Hayes is just never goj g to happen as it would create 5 termini at the south and only two at the north. It would never cope, with increased frequency or train length. The other facfor to add in is that ELL runs heavy trains whilst the tube and dlr run light rail, which are inherently cheeper to build bridges and to a lesser degree tunnels for, making it much more of a financilly viable option.

    As for LO taking over more services – is this not going to lead to a lot of confussion on the tube maps??? They would eneveatably end up o thd tube/tfl map without the other parallel lines for non tfl services. Also having them all orange is just going to be even more confusing – maybe some more colours need to be added???

    Oh and I hope everybidy had a happy christmas and new year……

  30. Stu says:

    It’s a bit pointless to talk of resiting and developing Lewisham station now. Virtually the entire block of land between the existing station and loop line (a misnomer for the bypass) has been redeveloped in the last 3 or so years, and this would be the obvious site for a major surface line redevelopment, so is now unavailable ! Another opportunity for joined-up planning lost

  31. mr_jrt says:

    The tube *is* heavy rail…just say’in

    Not much use for the good burghers of Lewisham, but I think building a proper interchange (a-la Clapham Junction, Stratford/OOC) on the incinerator site by Surrey Quays should be seriously considered. You’d be able to interchange between all the Southern and South Eastern lines as well as LO – This would dramatically relieve London Bridge as well as Lewisham as there’s room there to do things properly, and it’s perfectly sited to have underground platforms on any future Crossrail tunnels heading northwards.

  32. stimarco says:

    @Pedantic of Purley:

    The Quaggy is mostly in culvert through Lewisham’s town centre and is the river that runs in front of the new police station, under the wide footpath. (If you follow it on Google Maps, you’ll see it resurface to the east , following Lee High Road at the back of the properties on its eastern side.)

    If you look closely at Google Maps and zoom in, you can see it joining the Ravensbourne (which is the river that roughly follows the Hayes tracks) right alongside the ‘Up’ platform from the Blackheath route, and immediately to the right of the DLR station. The Quaggy is in the open only for about a dozen metres or so before the confluence, and it’s rather overgrown here, but it is there if you look closely, heading off to the east, following the edge of Station Road, before it enters the culvert.

    I agree that the time to re-site Lewisham has passed for the time being, but its core shopping centre and ex-Citibank structures date to the late ’70s and early ’80s and are not architecturally of any great merit. While it won’t happen today, it may be feasible in a generation or so. (That said, considering how long Crossrail took to happen, I think even twenty years is probably optimistic.)

    A Bermondsey Junction station does make some sense. I’m not sure how easy it would be to construct given the need to keep the lines open, but it does look doable in principle. And it could do wonders for regeneration of the area too.

  33. Point conceded stimarco but even if you could avoid the Quaggy you probably have the same issue with the Ravensbourne. And I take Mack’s point that engineers are perfectly capable of dealing with water – after all the French effectively went under the Seine a number of times early in the 20th century using what was basically a cut and cover technique. The point I was trying to make is that you would have to go quite a few feet more down to get under whichever river got in your way and I think you would have an insuperable problem with alignments.

  34. Something I have only just realised …

    If you look at the second photo in part 1 you can see behind the booking office (which is no longer there) there are some Victorian terraced houses. If you then look for those houses in the last but one picture in this article you will see that they are much more modern – late 70s in fact. The original ones had to be demolished to get the vehicles down to track level behind the new retaining wall being built which was then backfilled and the new houses built on the site.

  35. StephenC says:

    Obligatory link to where I think an above ground Lewisham Junction can be sited and why it should be there and not some other site.

  36. SamB says:


    “That’s why, when the powers that be decided to quadruple the main line through Lewisham and Chislehurst, they didn’t simply widen Lewisham’s Sidcup platforms: they literally built a bloody great four-track bypass on a brand new viaduct! (It’s the London end of this viaduct that the Tanners Hill Flydown “flies” over.) This was a classic engineering kludge that was built because it was much cheaper than trying to fix the main cause: the poor siting and alignment of the present station.”

    I’m curious – when was this bypass viaduct built? I live right next to it further down the line and would be interested to learn about the history. Is there anything online?

  37. Greg Tingey says:

    Because that repeated statement, about “4-track bypass” does not contain one single true statement, that’s why!

    Looking at my copy of “Cobb”, the actual opening dates are:
    Lewisham station: 1849 – line to Blackheath & Woolwich
    Lewisham – New Beckenham – towards Hayes …1857
    New direct main line, to cut [HUGE] corner off between Redhill & Tonbridge, 1865 ( & Parks Bridge Jn spur)
    Lewisham S Jn – main line spur 1929
    The new main line was, of course, originally double track, & was widened to 4 in the early 20th C. – ah here we are,,,
    According to Dendy Marshall: “…part of the widened lines betwen St Johns & Orpingon, which were completed in 1905.”

    So there.

  38. Alan Griffiths says:

    You’ve raised “Lewisham Junction” before, Stephen C, to limited response from some of the experts here (among whom I do not count myself).

    How many platforms?
    What options do you think there are for services stopping and not stopping?
    What train paths might it release at Lewisham Station or elsewhere?

  39. timbeau says:

    Greg – that chronology is interesting: does it mean that the Sidcup line (and indeed the “new” line to Chislehurst) could not be reached from Lewisham until 1929?

    The fact that the Hayes line supports many services that call at lewisham, and many that run fast to central London omitting lewisham, suggests that any join the dots proposal that doesn’t provide Hayes with direct services to both lewisham and central London will not satisfy the travel patterns of the existing customer base. (A bakerloo extension, for example, would not satisfy the demand for the City via Cannon Street

  40. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    So… why was it decided to build the “New direct main line” from St. Johns to Orpington by having the new line describe an arc around what was, at the time, a popular market town that already had a junction station barely a few hundred yards away? Why didn’t they just widen the Hayes ‘arm’ of the station to allow for two new through lines to pass through? Ladywell junction would have been much simpler for a start: instead of building a brand new viaduct, you could have followed the present route via Lewisham and along the current chord to what is now the four-track route. And they could have modified the line to relieve the sharp curvature too.

    I ask because, if your answer is “speed”, I should point out that, even on the four-track viaduct, the trains barely manage more than the 20 mph. they’d be stuck with through Lewisham station itself.

    To put this into context: until the very late 1800s, New Cross was still known locally as “Hatcham” and was mostly open countryside. In any case, railway companies had no qualms about demolishing great lumps of housing if they felt like it: planning laws were quite different then and NIMBYs tended to be ignored as a matter of routine.

    Even Catford to Bromley was open countryside right up to the 1920s. There was no shortage of options.

    Lewisham was an interchange station from 1857. Why would you literally make trains go out of their way to avoid it, if not because it was cheaper than fixing the problems of the station itself?

    I stand by my assertion: the present four-track viaduct is an engineering kludge, not an elegant piece of engineering.

  41. Stu says:

    Isn’t the curve of the Hayes/Sidcup platforms at Lewisham too tight for two further lines inside it. Judging by the huge noise that trains make inside Lewisham station, you can’t make additional lines much tighter

  42. Greg Tingey says:

    Please wake up – try drawing the layout, step-by-step as it was constructed, in your head, if not on paper…..
    The original lines were LB-Croydon-Redhill (diverge)-Tonbridge
    LB-Greenwigh (terminate)
    N Kent Jn- New Cross (SEC)-Lewisham-Blackheath-Woolwich (the line via Kidbrooke came much later)
    AND Lewisham – Ladywell – New Beckenham ( extensions to Hayes, Addiscombe & Selsdon/Sanderstead came later)
    THEN the new direct line
    St Johns’-Chislehurst-Orpington-Tonbridge, for faster, direct trains to Dover.

    And no, excuse the personal language but you can point it out as much as you like, but you are still WRONG & worse, not actually thinking – the answer was & is speed. WIth steam-traction, which had low acceleration rates, but could maintain a steady 40-55 mph, even at that point.
    [ My copy of Foxwell & Farrar notes that the average speeds of the better SER trains to Dover was 44 mph, back in 1888 …]
    Trains do regularly go at a mere 40 mph (& sometimes even touch 50!) past those junctions, & when opened, they would have gone faster than that, because of not having nose-to-tail-trains running under constant “yellows” in modern parlance..
    Whereas the stoppers via Lewisham would have been travelling even slower than today, going round those sharp curves & all stoppping @ Lewisham – which a train for Tonbridge would not have done.,
    I could quote from my 1922 Bradsaw as well, but I don’t think I need to bother.
    If you can’t see that, then well….
    And NO, wrong again: “Lewisham was an interchange station from 1857”
    No, it wasn’t – it was a junction, of two branches, both coming in to London.
    You also have to remember that the Hither Green – Lee – Bexley loop was not opened for another 9 years, until 1866, a year after the new main line, & that the Blackheath – Kidbrooke-Bexleyheath loop wasn’t opened until 1895 ….
    So, no engineering kludge, but a properly-built main lne, engineered for the then reasonable maximum speeds ( 60 mph) of the time.


  43. Greg Tingey says:

    You’re probably correct, about the curvature(s)
    But, if you are going to rebuild the whole site, anyway, you will have to re-construct the viaduct & its’ alignment, as well, so it probably wouldn’t matter.
    Expensive, but we knew that anyway, didn’t we?

  44. Paul says:

    The first paragraph of this article doesn’t seem quite right to me.

    As it is currently punctuated, that second comma makes the sentence read as though the current works at Tanners Hill are the reason for the eventual reduction in platforms at London Bridge.

    Is that really what was meant? Would it not be better to say it is being done now to make sure it is completed and available well before the opportunity to cross at Spa Rd junction is removed as part of the works to the London Bridge approaches?

  45. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Stimarco (or sitmarco as Greg calls you)

    If you could be patient, Swirlythingy has done a set of diagrams for me tracing the development of these lines which will hopefully make it clearer. It is easy to get confused as Swirlythingy will testify by the number of times I went back to him and said “Err, I got that wrong”. I will eventually get all the pieces together and work out how to present it in order to explain all the complexity of what has gone on in this area. One of the problems is that there is so much to tell that I have realised that it would make a very long article indeed. Just the Tanners Hill Flydown bit on its own turned out to justify a two part article and that is just a small part of the story. And even in this two part piece I have deliberately missed out bits of the story because they fit in better in an overall narrative.

    I for one appreciate just how confusing this can all be and how it is so easy to make false assumptions and convince oneself one is correct.

    The intention was to publish when the final track layout at St Johns was complete. I do not know if we will stick to this.

  46. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Does it make more sense now ? At least syntactically. I am not convinced it makes complete sense as a statement even now because I do not understand why it was felt that this work had to be done before the main work at London Bridge. I can only think it is because they did not want passengers to be subjected to more engineering disruption on top of that which was already happening at London Bridge.

  47. timbeau says:

    Stimarco’s scheme for how he would have arranged the tie in of the new main line to the existing layout at Lewisham had he been available to consult 150 years ago might have made life easier now, but the layout that was built had a number of advantages.

    Firstly, it avoided the cost of rebuilding Lewisham station, and realigning the Hayes line.

    It also avoided conflicts with the local services to destinations on both routes diverging at Lewisham, despite the fact they were on opposite sides of the new line (the Woolwich and Hayes routes), as fast trains could use the southernmost SER tracks through New Cross.

    Remember that the new line was built specifically to speed up long distance traffic. A modern analogy would be proposing that HS1 should call at Barking, or HS2 at Aylesbury.

  48. Stu says:

    A lot or arguments on Lewisham evolution …

    Surprising that there was no rival station for Lewisham on the generally higher speed loop line then. Which would, I guess, naturally have been where a Lewisham Junction could be. I guess Hither Green would partly have fulfilled the role

  49. timbeau says:


    The area through which the new line ran was fairly sparsely populated: relatively speaking it still is: a lot of green space remains around Chislehurst and Orpington. There would have been little traffic on offer at Lewisham for Orpington and Sevenoaks to justify a station on the avoiding line – and the 1929 connection to Hither Green eventually met that need. The situation is similar to that at Frome or Westbury.

    And since the SER owned all lines in the area, there was no particular commercial incentive to open a “rival” station on the main line – it would have been competing with itself

  50. Stephen C says:

    The Lewisham area is certainly one of the more intractable problems in London’s rail geography. I went with Lewisham Junction because its on the mainline, the site is available, it has development potential, and it is a suitable nucleus for future growth. The last point is important. Stratford and Clapham Junction have aggregated more services over time by being in a good location with enough room to expand.

    For example, it is conceivable that there might be a fast North-South line through the Wharf at some stage, this might connect up to Stansted (say if that were to become a 4 runway hub airport). A line running from Stansted to Stratford could then have next stop Canary Wharf, then Lewisham Junction, before potentially heading south to relieve the Brighton main line. (This scheme would justify the 4 platforms on the fast lines I think make sense to build from the start – Tunbridge Wells to Canary Wharf, change at Lewisham Junction)

    We might also see one of the Bakerloo, Metropolitan, a Fleet line or Crossrail at some point serving the SE lines (5 metro branches and a fast main line feeding into 4 tracks really is too much of a squash. Thus, Lewisham Junction as a proposal is less about the immediate junction created, and more about the potential for the future.

  51. Paul says:


    Yes that does read better I think.

    I have no real details of dates, but I suspect it is mainly to do with it being a pre-requisite to taking out the existing crossovers at Spa Road Junction. This will probably have to happen as and when they start doing the major alterations to make space for the main dive-under at Bermondsey. As far as I can work out from then on trains will no longer be able to switch easily between the Cannon St lines (ie the platform side through New Cross), and the Charing Cross lines – so the ‘Tanners Hill/St Johns’ area will be the last opportunity.

    However, the track layouts in the NR document you linked to earlier will be showing the final steady state, and there may be crossover routes in those drawings that aren’t yet available (or possible) during various interim stages of the eastern approaches area.

    (Maybe we should think of it as similar to one of those major motorway rebuilding jobs where you have to get in lane some miles before the junction you need, because some of the normal lanes are running contra-flo and not accessible?)

  52. James GB says:

    Regarding the difficulties of sinking / raising a new DLR through station at Lewisham, there does seem to be an assumption that there will be a direct continuation of the current line in from Elverson Road. Personally, I would not be surprised if, to save money, the new DLR station was on a new tunnel that starts back at Greenwich, with the existing CGL link relegated to the status of a branch and terminating at the 1999 station. This would mean step-plating the tunnels just south of Cutty Sark then running two deep bores almost exactly Southwards to a deep level tube-style station at Lewisham, then carrying on in tunnel to the first convenient tunnel mouth site. Not ideal, but it potentially avoids many of the issues of rebuilding Lewisham station.

    From Lewisham, the tunnel could turn eastwards and surface in the triangle of land between the two lines at Hither Green. A couple of short bridges would take it into the marginal strip alongside the mainline to Grove Park from where it could take over the Bromley North Branch. I note that Boris has expressed a preference for the the DLR to go to Bromley North “via Catford”, which I am not taking literally: a Catford Centre loop would require a lot more tunnelling and at least one more deep level station. Hither Green is arguably part of Catford.

    One potential advantage of extending the DLR from Lewisham to Hither Green is that *potentially* you could stop running main line trains between the two points, making passengers change at HG instead. That could lead to some speeding up of the South Eastern Services. I now expect somebody to tell me that Hither Green to Charing X trains go through Lewisham and Tanners Hill to switch to the other side of the formation, so maybe a flyover could be provided around the New Cross area.

  53. timbeau says:

    A thought on the Lewisham Junction proposal. The plan seems to have the Hayes line still negotiating the sharp curves at Lewisham (North), and requiring a DLR extension to Lewisham Junction to be squeezed in.

    Why not have the Hayes trains join the main line at Parks Bridge, leaving the Blackheath line as the only one serving the existing North station, and the DLR take over the formation between Lewishams North and Junction. (Loampit Vale could be raised to the level of the existing NR formation to pass over the DLR line.

  54. Anonymous says:


    But the Sidcup and Orpington lines cross Lewisham High Street to the south, and are at that point as close to the Lewisham High Street/Lee Bridge junction (historical centre of Lewisham) as the current station is. Even when the loop and line to Orpington was built, I think this land was partly developed, as shown in the reproduced OS map of 1805-22. A two level junction station (Hayes line beneath) could have linked through to the High Street on the Orpington line axis and served Lewisham well even mid-19th century

    I defer to your better knowledge on the railway companies at the time of building, perhaps a commercial rivalry on the two lines would have yielded a Lewisham Junction station to the south. There may also have been traffic needs from Lewisham southwards since the old London to Sevenoaks and Hastings stage coaches stopped along today’s A21 at Lewisham, Bromley, Sevenoaks etc

    I am a resident in the Chislehurst/Orpington area, and can’t agree with your sparsely populated comment. There are a few parks along the route of the line, and the high embankments make it look quite leafy, but it is quite well populated and has been for over 100 years

    One question I have – to the South East of the current Lewisham south junction/flyover, to the West of Lewisham High Street, there is a large council vehicle/bus depot. What is the history of that land ? It is the sort of strip typical of railway ownership in the past

  55. Darian says:

    If trains can’t switch between Cannon Street and Charing Cross tracks between New Cross/Deptford and London Bridge then what happens in the late evenings and Sundays… does this mean Cannon Street will have to stay open as I can’t image 3 platforms at London Bridge being able to terminate most metro services?

  56. PC says:

    Lewisham DLR station counts as a surface station and DLR have wanted to retain this status – this was still protected when the platforms were extended to avoid the additional costs of running a sub surface station. This is the further complicated by the contractual PPP arrangements for the DLR Lewisham extention.

    The levels issue is further complicated by the highways. Loampit Vale goes over the Ravensbourne and then through the station viaduct having left the awful roundabout. It is also an area liable to flooding – the DLR is protected by concrete “dykes” before it takes the ramp up to Deptford Bridge. The cost of extending the DLR further south in a tunnel to somewhere already served by rail would be difficult to justify.

    The Council depot to the south has always been owned by LB Lewisham and its predecessors. (I use to be responsible for Lewisham’s property records!)

  57. StephenC says:

    @timbeau Your plan (DLR takes over the existing formation between Lewisham North and Junction) is what I hoped to achieve initially, but I felt it required getting rid of the Hayes branch first. DLR extended to Catford Bridge, and the Hayes branch taken from there to London by some other means, eg Bakerloo is one option.

    However, you are correct that one solution to getting the scheme up and running would be to make all Hayes trains avoid Lewisham North, thus greatly simplifying the DLR extension by allowing it to reuse trackbed. I will note one problem with this however – there would be no connection from Lewisham Junction to Nunhead/Peckham/Victoria, which seems undesirable for a junction…

  58. Paul says:

    Darian @ 1019

    There’s very little explicit info on this, but the South London RUS (p112) did point out that “through services from the Greenwich line to Charing Cross would not be viable” following Thameslink completion, and this would mean more trains running into Cannon St. But that’s about all it states.

    Unfortunately, nearly all the RUS stuff concentrates on peak services, there seems to be an underlying tendency to gloss over stuff such as off peak and weekend services, presumably because if you can run the intended peak it must be possible to thin it out for other times of day or week…

  59. The Other Paul says:

    I think the Lewisham Junction proposal has merit.

    I would envision it being the last of four major junctions (Clapham, Stratford, Old Oak Common and Lewisham) which could ultimately be connected by genuinely high speed railways. Old Oak common to Stratford should be made to happen to provide regular fast connecting services instead of the poxy HS2-HS1 single bore connection. Stansted-Stratford-CanaryWharf-Lewisham-Croydon-Gatwick-Brighton also sounds sensible. Then you can add Ebbsfleet-Lewisham-Clapham-OldOakCommon. Suddenly you have a network of high speed lines with easy changes to get across town or to the part of town you’re heading for. And to go back to an earlier post, the dependencies on the core and the traditional termini are reduced as London grows.

  60. Greg Tingey says:

    Darian @ 22.19
    Same as they do now, sometimes …
    Terminate “Cannon Street” trains in Pfs 1/2/3 @ London Bridge.
    Pfs 2/3 are fuly reversible already, anyway.

    All this results form the complete failure of either imagination or fear of spending “too much” money so that Thameslink 3000 would never get built (Given that it took nearly 15 years longer to get started, because of guvmint’s hatred of rail …….)
    Another lost opportunity.
    What should have been done:
    Diverge @ Blackfriars Jn, but build a new pair of single viaducts at the same level as the ex-LCDR lines, with ramps [* note] coming up from the lines to/from Charing X, thus giving a 4 (or even 6) track crossing of Borough Market OVER the old market, so you would have only needed supports for the pillars, not a market-complete-rebuild.
    Those 4 extra tracks (+2 for CX, so avoiding the bottleneck, which will remain under existing plans, isanely enough & +2 for Thamselink 3000) would run to the immediate S of the present Pf6.
    SInce you are completely rebuilding L-B anyway, you put back the two Southernmost Pfs on the ex-LBSC side, thus keeping a sufficient number of platforms for true flexibilty.
    You’ll still need a separating flyover set near the old Bricklayers Arms/Corbets Lane Junctions to get ‘Slink trains on to the “Brighton” lines without conflicting moves.

    Too late now – what a waste!

    [* note: All-electric traction, so you can have a gradient as steep as that from City-Slink to Blackfriars, provided there are no signals that can go red on the bank! ]

  61. timbeau says:

    @Darian – isn’t that what the flydown is for? All trains via Lewisham will be able to get to/from the CX side of the formation between New Cross and Lewisham. Only the Greenwich line trains are stuck on the wrong side of the TL route.

  62. CM says:

    Can someone highlight what doubling this will actually enable in terms of service?

    Will it just be more flexibility/resilience and less delays – or can it actually expand anything?

    I guess it means that Lewisham gets to keep Charing Cross and Cannon Street services? By that, we can assume that anything stopping at St Johns will be Cannon Street only – and Greenwich will too?

    Therefore it’d be reasonable to assume after these works that Cannon Street will only offer local services along via Greenwich, Lewisham (Hayes, Bexleyhead, Sidcup, Chislehurst) – but will not have any longer distance services on the fast lins (or Lewisham avoiding locals to Hayes/Orp) ???

  63. MikeP says:

    @James GB – Hither Green – Charing X trains from the Dartford Loop that are non-stop to LBG (most of them in the current pattern) cross on the flat in the vicinity of the mooted “Lewisham Junc” station. Leads to a wait most every morning and evening, sometimes fairly extended if the path is missed or pre-empted by someone else late. Dunno if slow trains from Orpington do the same.

    This is clearly a further restriction on available paths, but whether it becomes a/the critical one once Thameslink “2000” is complete I have no idea.

  64. timbeau says:

    The layout for the whole Thameslink project is here

    I suspect not all crossing are shown, and crossing on the flat between Spa Road and London Bridge will still be possible. Looks like Greenwich could have access to the Thameslink tracks at least, sing he Bermondsey diveunder.

  65. Greg Tingey says:

    That diagram is horribly incomplete & underinformative (NOT your fault!)
    Remember that there are 4 “Brighton” tracks, so that makes 10 running lines +1 extra as far as parallel to Pf_6 @ LB making 11, & for a short distance, between Spa Rd & Thames Jn, there are, in fact 12 running lines (or so my old copy of “Quail” tells me!)
    I would imagine that some crossovers will be left in place, but that they will only be expected to be used out of the peak hours, or only at weekends, when simple regular-interval services are in operation.
    We shall see!
    Incidentally, somewhere someone will have a detailed proposed track-plan, but getting hold of a copy from Network Rail might be a little difficult….

  66. You could try the link in part 1 that states “in a document published by Network Rail ” and is referenced later in the comment “The trouble is that the document includes a diagram which seems to suggest …”

  67. Stu says:

    @ timbeau

    Not sure why there seems to be a connection from Lewisham station to the loop line on the wrong side of the bridge carrying the line over to Nunhead. But it’s an interesting start … 😉

  68. Greg Tingey says:

    Apart from the {cynicsm} that link, though difficult to read (ghastly type-face) shows that it WILL be possible to get to the “Charing X” platforms from Deptford, but it involves, as today, crossing a lot on the flat – so NOT during the rush-hours & probably not during Mon-Fri.
    I assume that this diagram is not finally “set in stone”, but will be broadly followed – I had not previously noted that the new layout will have 9, not 8 through Pf’s in the new L_B, which is definitely an improvement.

    Don’t understand you?

  69. Stu says:

    At the very very bottom right hand corner, the 4 tracks into Lewisham look wrong. Should there not be 2 tracks coming off the mainline from St Johns adding to 2 tracks coming down and across from Nunhead ? It may just be that the diagram has put it on the wrong side of the bridge, but I don’t think so

  70. Whiff says:

    Interesting pair of articles. When I used to live on the Hayes line St John’s always seemed to be one of those mysterious and slightly pointless inner-suburban stations which most trains thunder past and where few people ever seem to be waiting for a train. It’s good to know from the complaining locals that there are plenty of people living nearby but, given the proximity of Elverson Road and Lewisham , I do wonder if St John’s would be missed much if it ever was closed.

    Thinking about the wider area if sometime in the future it was possible to send more trains down the Hayes Line would there be any advantage in sending some of them down the under-used chord to Beckenham Junction.

  71. timbeau says:

    The arrangment at lewisham is shown in the same way in the “before” diagram, which is definitely wrong, so i guess there are actually no plans to change anything there other than Tanners Hill.

    Other errors include a wrong way arrow on the connection near Spa Road between the Cannon Street and TL routes in the “after” diagram. The more detailed diagram linked by Pedantic also shows the northernmost track in the diveunder to be bidirectional, allowing Greenwich line trains access both to and from CX lines without crossing the TL lines on the flat.

  72. Anonymous says:

    @James GB:
    “From Lewisham, the tunnel could turn eastwards and surface in the triangle of land between the two lines at Hither Green. A couple of short bridges would take it into the marginal strip alongside the mainline to Grove Park from where it could take over the Bromley North Branch. I note that Boris has expressed a preference for the the DLR to go to Bromley North “via Catford”, which I am not taking literally: a Catford Centre loop would require a lot more tunnelling and at least one more deep level station. Hither Green is arguably part of Catford.”

    I can’t visualise how that would work, by triangle of land I guess you mean the nature reserve? But at surface level I can’t visualise a way of doing it avoiding the existing lines? Almost immediately you plow into what I think is the GBRF Depot. Then if you can get between the mainline and Marlborough Crescent you’ve got to cross St Mildred’s Road. After that you’ll be going through Grove Park Depot and wiping out siding capacity. Then what do you do flatten most of Gables Close?

    If only BRB hadn’t sold off the land Cumberland Place is on now…

  73. Paul says:

    Timbeau @ 06:45pm

    The drawings in the 2008 LR article definitely were very much simplified, the author did explain this in his post. Both of the drawings were intentionally simplified to show only the main up/down flows from a far more complex article with a two page drawing in Modern Railways which had been published a few months previously, and the source drawings show many more tracks and running junctions (crossovers) including the bidirectional route that you mention above.

  74. C says:

    Might a LO branch from New Cross down to Beckenham Junction via Lewisham and Ladywell at 4tph in addition to existing Hayes services be a worthwhile extension?

    Could take over St Johns and close that down. Will be 5 or 6 cars by then anyway.

    Bakerloo I think should probably go elsewhere. Bromley North perhaps – and if LO went via Lewisham, the Bakerloo could probably skip it and go across Catford.

    Or along the Greenwich branch.

  75. Greg Tingey says:

    The Bakerloo should not go anywhere near Hayes, or Bromley – it’s just potty.
    DLR / Tram / Loo-Roll are all much more sensible suggestions for that area.
    What should be done, is implelment the 1931 (!) proposal of extending through Camberwell to Either LOugh boro’Jn or Peckham Rye (preferablty the former) & on to Herne Hill { where there would be an interchange with an extended Victorial line ….
    I’ve even seen a reference [ which I can’t presently find] suggesting that boring actually commenced, post WWII in the direction of Camberwell, but was stopped after only a few tens of metres had been dug.
    What a waste!

  76. Pedantic Of Purley says:

    The Bakerloo should not go anywhere near Hayes, or Bromley – it’s just potty.
    On this I couldn’t agreed more.

    I’ve even seen a reference [ which I can’t presently find] suggesting that boring actually commenced, post WWII in the direction of Camberwell, but was stopped after only a few tens of metres had been dug.

    Yes and no. The sidings were altered to point in a more suitable direction to serve Camberwell and at the same time I believe they were lengthened. Also unusually, as CartoMetro’s map clearly shows it has a crossover beyond the station. This must be of use as I am sure they would have taken it out otherwise. So I believe the new longer sidings enable trains to be stored there without compromising safety overlaps which means that trains can approach E&C without “Moorgate Control” to stop them overrunning.

    Other than that I don’t believe horizontal boring actually commenced but someone somewhere suggested this myth got propagated because there are pictures of sites where they dug out vertical shafts to establish the ground conditions. It would have been irresponsible to expect any underground project to apply for funding without having establish the exact nature of the terrain they are boring through. The Channel Tunnel is partially forgiveable in this respect as it is not easy to do test bores in the middle of the Channel.

    And, as I keep pointing out, the idea of the extension was not so much to serve the people of Camberwell but to build a three platform terminus underground in order increase capacity on the Bakerloo in days when it had two northern branches and the limiting factor to increased frequency was terminal capacity at Elephant and Castle.

  77. jn says:

    wow, if it wasnt for my 4000 word coursework i would of returned to this sooner…

    @stimarco i simply meant the current 4tph to New cross be extended to Hayes, not replace

    what this entire discussion shows is that the southeast is to reliant on NR and that alot more discussion, political will and imputus is needed for something to change. everyone will have there own grand scheme of things and prehaps it will take a grand scheme to revolutionise travel in SE London.

    DLR to Bromley North via Catford was asked for by Boris, regardless of what route it shall take. Lewisham is a huge sticking point, not to mention what sort of impact will occur during construction – the early terminus of dlr trains at greenwich maybe…

    Also, unfortunatly for Greg & Purley, It would appear bakerloo extension is again gaining ground, today mentioned in the NR plans as it would free up ‘6’ train paths.

    Either way, there are huge plans and big ideas certain to appear before us in the many years ahead…

    love this site =]

  78. stimarco says:

    Re. St. John’s inexplicable existence.

    St. Johns has the benefit of serving the nearby Lewisham College campus. (There’s another campus right next to Deptford Bridge station on the DLR, but that’s much more recent and nowhere near as big.)

    It’s also not clear from the photos, but the railway cutting is dug into the side of a valley and St. John’s Vale (the road that crosses that awkward Frankenstein bridge over the station) is actually quite a steep climb from the valley floor. The DLR station at Elverson Road only looks convenient on an aerial view because you can’t see the hills, but believe me, it’s not a fun walk up from that DLR station to the Hilly Fields end of Tressillian Road on a cold, wet, winter’s night.

    St. Johns station would also have provided an interchange (for what it was worth) with Lewisham Road station while the original Greenwich Park Branch was operational: the latter originally crossed above the former on a viaduct on its way to Blackheath Hill and no connection at all with Lewisham, so this would have been the only option for passengers wanting to get to Victoria without going through London.

    Re. The DLR’s “dykes”.

    The present route of the river through Brookmill Park is entirely artificial, despite it looking more ‘natural’. It was diverted during construction of the DLR branch to Lewisham as the river actually ran in the concrete trough the DLR uses today. This has nothing to do with flood control. Flood mitigation works were added further up the Quaggy and Ravensbourne, including breaking open culverts, removing the concrete channels, and deliberately providing ponds and similar areas for the rivers to flood into.

    Re. “Lewisham Junction station”.

    I can understand why many like this proposal, but it creates some user experience issues that I would find irritating. In effect, the DLR would become a people mover between the new and old stations, which should be warning enough that this is a flawed design. It’s also a symptom of an approach to design and planning that focuses too much on symptoms and individual flaws, rather than causes and the big picture.

    I prefer holistic solutions. A single, underground, integrated interchange station with realigned tracks via New Cross Gate instead of New Cross (eliminating a lot of pointless duplication while also greatly strengthening the network effect) would also solve a number of other problems currently affecting Lewisham and its neighbouring boroughs. Particularly the terrible orbital connections and awful roads.

    Although this would be more expensive up-front, you’d be getting a hell of a lot more bang for your buck, and you’d also be able to share the costs with other boroughs and TfL, instead of relying entirely on funding from Network Rail alone.

    But more about all that in an article I really need to get back to…

  79. Also, unfortunatly for Greg & Purley, It would appear bakerloo extension is again gaining ground, today mentioned in the NR plans as it would free up ’6′ train paths.

    I would argue the opposite. It only got a brief mention and only as a aspiration. Previously they made a big thing of it. I was a bit puzzled by the statement that “This aspiration is consistent with the London Mayor’s Transport Strategy.” as I cannot see how depriving thousands of people of their direct link to the city is part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

    Could I just make it clear that my concern is not that this will be built? After all this document more or less makes it clear that no start could be made before 2018 by which time I am pretty sure there will be extremely limited spare capacity on the Bakerloo. Proponents will then say future resignalling (when ?) of the Bakerloo will provide more capacity but that will just get eaten up too. My concern is that this is a distraction and it looks as if NR have hopes of magicing an extra 6 paths per hour by dreaming that they can some how lose the Hayes branch by this means and as a result they will not focus on what is really needed.

    I don’t know the solution but my personal feeling is that the Hayes branch today could easily fill 8 tph with 12-car trains due to suppressed demand/current overcrowding. If you extended platform 4 at Beckenham Junction or acquired a bit of Waitrose car park for platform 5 you could probably justify at least a further 4 tph that would use the New Beckenham – Beckenham Junction spur. So that is 12 tph at today’s traffic levels even before you look at a potential junction at Catford/Catford Bridge to concentrate services further. So in the long term the day must eventually come where one could justify an inner London portal to divert these trains elsewhere and relieve the south-eastern’s hopelessly overcrowded services.

    Normally I try not to have too much of an opinion on this website and try to stick mainly to facts but in this case I just have to say I think, as Greg says, it’s potty.

  80. Tangent says:

    I’ve also come fairly recently to the conclusion that tunnels carrying mainline services would be the best solution for south London. Over the past few weeks, I’ve drawn up a very rough super-expensive wishlist, which would involve tunnels dedicated tracks from the London terminii to hub stations outside London, such as Tonbridge, Woking, and Haywards Heath, with new underground low-level terminii at Victoria, Waterloo and Blackfriars/City Thameslink. Outside the inner area, the new tracks would use viaduct or embankment wherever feasible, but would be new and dedicated: there would also be specifc tracks for goods, and new lines duplicating the WLL and NLL eastwards of Old Oak Common. Existing track and stations can then be used for either a more intensive service or conversion to Underground lines.

    As far as this patch is concerned, I would like an underground line that took the Hayes branch, ran the way of the projected Fleet line (in tunnel to New Cross, duplicating the LO as far as Shadwell, Fenchurch Street, Aldwych, and thence to Charing X), and possibly an LO extension in tunnel, although that would be unrealistic. The starting point for the tracks around St. John’s, if my suggestions were brought to fruition, is that they would then be dedicated either to remaining Dartford Loop or Orpington/Sevenoaks slows and semi-fasts.

  81. Tangent says:

    I would like an underground line that took the Hayes branch, ran the way of the projected Fleet line (in tunnel to New Cross, duplicating the LO as far as Shadwell, Fenchurch Street, Aldwych, and thence to Charing X),

    (Although not strictly relevant to the thread, I ought to add that I would then see such a line continuing to Victoria, thence to Battersea Power Station and Clapham Junction, taking over Hounslow Loop and Shepperton Branch services). I think such a line would free up paths for both the South Easten and Windsor suburban lines, and provide a useful Central London addition without getting too overloaded in the suburban areas.

  82. StephenC says:

    @PoP, I think you’ve appreciated what I’ve come to appreciate, and that is just how few people a tube train carries relative to the main line! A comparison I did was an S8 Metropolitan line train vs a 12 car Networker type. The S8 is 133m long, while the Networker is about 240m long, virtually double. While the S8 is laid out more for standing than the Networker, it is certain that replacing the 12 car Networker with an S8 would require more tph to achieve the same overall capacity (similar cross-section of train, but half the length). Assuming new trains meant a growth boost as well, I don’t think its unrealistic to expect that the current 6tph Hayes service would need to be 16tph of S8.

    Now instead of an S8 apply the logic to the smaller Bakerloo trains, and consider that they are also expected to serve new places nearer to London (Peckham/Old Kent Road). The numbers simply don’t stack up for the Bakerloo IMO, you’d reach the 27-30tph limit.

    However the exercise does show that a Metropolitan line extension to Hayes might stack up, especially given that it could allow West End connections via a cross-platform link at Bermondsey and still effectively serve London Bridge (at City Hall). I’m still not convinced its the right choice though, as I had hoped to take two Southeastern branches, but that isn’t viable given the numbers.

    @Tangent, The cheapest most effective option is a fast tunnel from the outskirts to a location close to the centre and a tunnel for the metro services from there under the city. So, the long distance services still terminate in the termini, but the metro services get to re-use the current surface infrastructure while being cheaply converted to crossrails. (eg. tunnel Esher to Clapham for the long-distance services, and tunnel Clapham to CR2 for the Wimbledon slows)

  83. Tangent says:

    So, the long distance services still terminate in the termini, but the metro services get to re-use the current surface infrastructure while being cheaply converted to crossrails. (eg. tunnel Esher to Clapham for the long-distance services, and tunnel Clapham to CR2 for the Wimbledon slows)

    One major problem with this is the sheer number of South London overland routes. We are approaching the point where additional lines in the central area, or extending the Underground network, will either be disproportionate in cost or will not be efficient. One potential solution to this might be a model on S-Bahn lines, with many existing lines converted high-frequency branch lines feeding a smaller number of through routes. That might easily be the approach the Mayor and TfL eventually choose if they take over the suburban franchises, but it will be unpopular with many, and would still need stations like Lewisham to be thoroughly remodelled to allow for the optimised connections needed to make the system work.

    Failing that, then I see no alternative to the termini still having to shoulder the burden of some suburban routes.

  84. James GB says:

    @Anonymous at 21:28 yesterday:

    There is a marginal strip *most* of the way from HG depot to Grove Park on the east side of the formation. I can confirm this from looking from the train, nearby footpaths and Google’s satellite images. Some of the land is banked and would need retaining walls and a small amount of demolition would be required. It would be worth looking at the existing carriage sidings to see if they could be moved slightly to make it easier & cheaper.

    At the Hither Green station / tunnel mouth bit, I would utilise the fact that the existing railway is on embankments. The DLR station could be at ground level or in a cutting. I am proposing to locate it in the triangle between the line to Orpington, line to Sidcup and the freight depot. The DLR would then continue at ground level (i.e. below existing lines) through the depot site before rising to the level of the existing lines south of the freight chord and north of St Mildreds Road.

    I take the presence of the depot as a positive as in some ways it is easier to disturb this than to propose demolishing people’s houses. The whole depot site does not seem that well used but unfortunately the bit the DLR would pass through would be the current depot building. I would suggest that the obvious answer is to move the depot building to the other (east) end of the site so that the DLR could pass through on the west side. I would suggest that there would be enough room for a few carriage sidings for the DLR if needed: this could be covered over with a concrete apron, providing more siding space for the freight depot above and a carriage shed of sorts for the DLR beneath.

  85. The other Paul says:

    @Whiff – “I do wonder if St John’s would be missed much if it ever was closed.”

    According to the ORR usage stats 2010-11, St Johns had a total entry+exit of 661,116 in that financial year. This is more than Bromley North, Harlesden, Hackney Wick, Chorleywood, Penzance, Runcorn, Margate and many many others. In fact St John’s is 647th used out of 2531 total stations on the national rail network.

    Perhaps you don’t see many people waiting when you speed past because the frequency of stopping trains is sufficient that people don’t need to wait very long?

  86. Greg Tingey says:

    The other Paul
    One SLIGHT problem there.
    As far as I can see none of the ORR’s station-usage figures can be believed, at all.

  87. Karlos says:’s St Johns page has just been updated. It looks like there’s some new track diagrams 1895,1916 & 2010.

  88. unravelled says:

    Silly ideas regarding Lewisham. It looks just about possible to turn Loampit Vale South after the bridge and turn the DLR East after the station. This would probably allow the DLR to gain enough height to cross towards the railway formation, and the road to relink across the shopping centre end of the open space. The DLR could continue alongside the existing railway line one side or the other, (possibly stack the DLR lines in places?). It would have to cross the line at some point to gain the Hayes formation after the current junction.
    If an extra bridge under the platforms is made for loampit vale south of the current spans this should be easier.

    Secondly, is there room to build an overground platform or two on the North side of Lewisham Station? If the Overground can be wangled into the platform roads before New Cross, and just extended to Lewisham, it could make a lot of useful connections and reductions in changes.

    Btw, regarding capacity, (wikipaedia warning), a 3 unit dlr train is designed for about 852 riders, a 4 car ELL unit 700, (so 5 car 875ish), and a Croydon tram 208.

  89. Tangent says:

    If the Overground can be wangled into the platform roads before New Cross, and just extended to Lewisham, it could make a lot of useful connections and reductions in changes.

    It might – but where are the paths? The stretch from New Cross to Lewisham is already one of the busiest of the country, and creating paths for LO trains on existing tracks would have a serious impact on existing services, and possibly on freight too. At peak time, it would make a bad situation worse.

  90. Tom B says:

    From an historical perspective, when the Tonbridge (1866) and Dartford Loop (1866) lines opened, they were certainly seen as intended primarily for longer-distance traffic, with the first stations from New Cross at Chislehurst and Lee respectively. The aim of the Dartford Loop line (via Sidcup) was to take trains to Strood and Maidstone off the North Kent line, which was congested even then, It was actually used for that purpose for a few years, but then most of the faster trains went back to the North Kent line.
    Stations were added at Grove Park in 1871, St John’s in 1873 and Hither Green (in connection with housing developments in the area) not until 1895.
    As mentioned above, the connections from the main line to the Mid-Kent platforms at Lewisham and from the up end of Lewisham to join the line to Nunhead were opened in 1929, initially to divert cross-London freight trains away from London Bridge and Metropolitan Junction. The connections were not electrified and used not regularly by passenger trains until 1933.
    Incidentally, the route for freight trains through Lewisham station always strikes me as a very awkward one, steeply graded and sharply curved.

  91. Tangent says:

    The grade problems are one problem with my “mainline tunnel” wheeze if it includes goods lines: not only would you need to ensure freight locomotives could cope with the challenges of taking loads up and down steep gradients, but the tunnels near the mainline stations would need to be among the biggest bored tunnels in the world, especially if built to UC gauge.

  92. Anonymous says:

    Unravelled @16:00:

    I too have thought a lot about getting to Overground from New Cross to Lewisham but it looks almost impossible without tunnelling. I did conclude that Blackheath is a much more practical terminus than Lewisham due to a disused bay platform (it might even be possible to rebuild as a centre reversing platform with minimal demolition). Charlton might have enough room for a bay on the south, I can never quite tell if there is space or not.

    And now the radical idea: put the DLR into tunnel between Greenwich and Lewisham, get the Overground to pass through Deptford then, via a new curve, move on to a rebuilt DLR formation to Lewisham.

  93. Selwyn says:

    Brilliant article & info.
    I spent the first 26 years of my life living in the New Cross and Brockley areas.and remember seeing the last tram (aged 10, July 1952) at the Marquis of Granby and have sad recollections of the St Johns rail disaster.
    Being a train enthusiast, I remember using New X and St Johns many a time when they had 5 and 4 platforms.
    If I might follow on from the St Johns/Tanners Hill Flydown to the Bermondsey Diveunder for the CX trains and its construction. I have contacted network rail to ask whether, due to the reduction of the number of line into LB, would CX trains be diverted via Nunhead & terminate @ Waterloo (international) or Blackfriars or Victoria. Too far ahead to have planned/thought about that they replied. I think they said that to avoid answering the question since during this construction a lot of customers might be inconvenienced and it might be politically too early to spread doom & gloom.
    Anybody got any insight as to how thay are going to do it?

  94. Anonymous says:

    We seem to have an excess of underused but potentially useful links in SE London:

    New Beckenham-Beckenham Junction – a LOROL extension from New Cross to B Junc would provide most of the zone 1-4 stations on the Hayes line with 6tph, and give a link from the Chatham Main Line (for Bromley and its onward connections) and Lewisham to the Overground. However aside from the already congested junction at Lewisham there is the issue of how to get up trains back on to the ELL – at New Cross Gate a flyover was needed and aside from the cost is there any room for this at New Cross?

    Grove Park-Bromley North – the DLR extension sounds like a great idea as any heavy rail extension has to cross the fast lines to Tonbridge to reach it. A more solid connection between Lewisham and Bromley as well as an entry on the tube map for Bromley. Extending it all the way to Bromley South (with perhaps stops for the civic complex and the Glades shopping centre) give us more direct connections to the Chatham line. City trains are the poor relations to Victoria trains at Bromley South so it might also help to shift some traffic on to the DLR.

    Peckham Rye-Nunhead – surely keeps some traffic off the tube network by moving people along its route to Victoria without the need to pile on the District/Circle lines from Blackfriars-Embankment-Victoria? Especially now that the easy connection to Victoria from Peckham/Denmark Hill is only Mon-Sat until 7pm, surely a 4tph all day all week would be valuable.

    Crystal Palace-Beckenham Junction – on the face of it a useful South East to South Central network connection, but if no service is ever going to connect, say Orpington, with Clapham Junction (maybe akin to the South Croydon-Milton Keynes train), a Tramlink conversion seems ideal. How about a triangular service – the tram effectively turns back by running Croydon-Palace-Beckenham-Croydon? There are huge connection potential at all three locations, and then the L Bridge-Beckenham Junction service could be diverted down to East Croydon, restoring a valuable connection from Peckham, Dulwich and Crystal Palace lost when the Smitham train was withdrawn.

  95. C says:

    Anon right above, completely agreed on all comments.

    LOROL to Beckenham Junction (with no loss of NR Hayes services) seems a great idea to augment the line for local journeys (perhaps with some bus cuts?), and to provide good connections for the line as a whole.

    The links with Tramlink create a decent hub at Beckenham Junction too – perhaps some development or intensification could happen there.

    It’s also a decent diversion to London Bridge/Canary Wharf via Canada Water when a lot of Southeastern trains are messed up due to London Bridge works!

    Victoria to Lewisham via Nunhead should be 4tph and all week. There seems to be demand for an extra 2tph via Catford though as well.

    And the Crystal Palace triangular extension seems an obvious one for the flexibility it adds. I’d say the Norwood Junction platform 6/7 reinstatement for terminating Crystal Palace-originating local trains supports this being likely – and Southern ceasing to serve Birkbeck and Beckenham possibly. I think this would only affect Birkbeck residents negatively.

  96. unravelled says:

    I did say they were silly ideas. If the Hayes services are transferred, won’t that free up some paths, or are they already committed? Also, wouldn’t some paths to a new northern Lewisham bay be available when flydown/Nunhead to Blackheath moves occurred? I’m assuming that the points for a bay would be on the St Johns side of the current junction.
    Finally, won’t the flydown allow more services to lewisham avoiding New Cross/ St Johns, potentially allowing Overground paths via St Johns.

    I’ll shut up now….

  97. C says:

    How would a Surrey Quays-bound LO train from St Johns access the ELL northbound at New Cross though? Could there be a fly-under somewhere?

    Lewisham bay not a bad idea – but as mentioned above there is a disused bay at Blackheath which would add a little more to the extension and take it through the Lewisham tangle quicker.

  98. Tangent says:

    On a general point: the crucial thing enhanced connections have to do for South London travellers is increase the number of different routes available to a traveller for a journey. The crucial advantage someone journeying to Central London or other important destinations from Stanmore, Ealing or Leytonstone, compared to someone from Welling, Orpington or Streatham is the possibility of alternative routes that can be taken at short notice.

  99. Unravelled says:

    My silly idea for New Cross is to spread the tracks north of the station (down platform line on to the depot site?) and link the Overground single track into the bidirectional line by a flyup.

  100. MiaM says:

    If you look at google maps where the overground diverges from mainline north of New Cross it’s obvious that there used to be or atleast were planned a connection from the westernmost (norhbound) mainline track up to the northbound track of east London line.

    Re Hayes lines:
    How about a new link from east of Elmers End across South Norwood Country Park to Crystal Palace and a triangular junction at Crystal Palace? I.e. extend current Crystal Palace Overground to Hayes via Harrington Road and also run Hayes trains via Crystal Palace on the BML to London Bridge – Cannon Street and also via Crystal Palace to Victoria or Waterloo?
    Let Tramway take over both tracks Elmers End – Beckenham (diverted to Beckenham Junction).

    This would move traffic from the northern part of the Hayes line and also free up some traffic at Lewisham but increase traffic on BML which in turn would make a stronger business case for BML improvements.

    Re grand tunneling schemes e.t.c, IMHO a goal should be to get rid of all termini stations and replace them with “crossrail” links, both for long distans and commuter services.

  101. Greg Tingey says:

    Yes, so?
    If you look at old maps, including one that has appeared here befpre … THIS ONE, in fact you can see that there used to be an entirely different form of diveunder to the North of both NXG & NX.
    According to “Cobb” the NXG one (in red) closed in 1964, & the one to NX in 1966 – they were used for through freight workings using the Thames Tunnel.
    X-park link nr Elmers End … & what about the existing Tramlink route ot BEckenham Jn, that also crosses the park? How would you arrange their crossing over? And I think you mean to the WEST of EE, don’t you?

  102. Jeanpierre says:

    Yes, there used to be a spur from the up main north of New Cross to the ELL, used by freight traffic until that ceased in 1960-something.

    My idea for extending the New Cross branch of the ELL is to slew the up main to the west to facilitate a dive-under for tracks to/from the ELL, which would connect with the up/down main lines to the north of New Cross station. Overground services would run non-stop between Surrey Quays and Lewisham via this new link, accessing Lewisham via Tanners Hill flydown. The single line into New Cross platform 4 would be kept for use during weekend engineering works, etc., and could possibly see daily ‘parliamentary’ trains a la Battersea Park. Regarding ELL trains bypassing New Cross and St Johns, New Cross and NX Gate stations are a short walk apart, as has been pointed out elsewhere, and Passengers from/to St Johns could change at Lewisham, as could those arriving from other Southeastern stations.

    I expect there will be all sorts of reasons why non-stopping 378’s can’t clutter up the main line between New Cross and St johns……… 😉

  103. Bruce Deane says:


    What is the point in running short trains over the South Eastern Network ? As discussed earlier in this thread, only Four carriage trains can travel up the ELL to Dalston. Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water can only fit 4 cars and would be expensive to lengthen.

    The maximum TPH that ELL can accomodate has almost been reached.

    So what can LOROL do for South East London ? It has run out of underused radial routes to rebrand as London Overground. It has done a good job building an orbital route around London, but now its job is done. It has reached its optimum size.

    However like all new empires , think DLR and tramlink; it wants to keep growing.

    The only real option for LO is to be a competitor railway, taking routes from stations around the M25 into London Termini. So you have to ask yourself , what is South Eastern doing so badly, that LO could improve on ?

    The ideas floated here to replace heavy rail with trams sound like back to the 80s. Tramlink is bursting in its two car trams. Have you ever been on one when the schools empty in the afternoon, it is rammed.

  104. Jeanpierre says:

    Just lobbing my two penny’th in about extending the ELL beyond New Cross, as has been discussed earlier in this thread, as well as elsewhere on this website.

    Also discussed on this website:

    1. London Overground/TfL bidding for Southeastern Metro services;
    2. LO 378’s being extended to five cars, and possibly beyond.

  105. Lemmo says:

    The Lewisham conundrum is worthy of an article all of its own. It would be good to know if the rail planners have ever explored the option of a new station on the mainlines nearer Lewisham High St, so this is not just conjecture.

    Although there appears to be the space for a new station on the mainlines, the alignment here is on a curve, which is not ideal for platforms. You’d need at least six platforms on the mainline otherwise the new station would reduce capacity on the route overall. And it might be quite tight getting 12-car platforms in before the alignment narrows on the embankment and bridges around Ellerdale St.

    You’d also need to find a way to weave the Hayes branch in, and provide platforms. This would be no problem on the stopping route through to the existing Lewisham station, but would not be possible on the ‘Fast’ curve up to the mainlines.

    A major redesign at Lewisham would allow the existing tightly-curved alignment through the existing Lewisham station to be removed, and this could resolve the road problems on the A20 Loampit Vale outside the DLR station. This could then allow the DLR to be extended, rising sharply to cross the main road and join the existing rail alignment to the new Lewisham station.

    DLR becomes the link between the existing and new Lewisham stations ― not ideal, but how many passengers will need to change between the mainlines and the Blackheath line? Both routes converge at St Johns anyway.

    The simplification of the junctions at the existing Lewisham station might then open up the potential of a new Overground route via Nunhead. This route is currently under-used because of pathing and capacity issues at Lewisham, which a new station would resolve. The downside is that interchange from the mainlines to the Nunhead route would then involve an inconvenient hop on DLR for a few hundred yards.

    But what then do you do about the Hayes branch? It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that you’d have to create a new tunnelled route and sub-surface platforms at the new Lewisham station. The cost of this might make the ‘Haykerloo’ option more attractive.

    It’s also hard to see where the Hayes branch might rise to the surface, however tunnelling through to New Cross opens up new possibilities. This would relieve the critical four-track bottleneck through St Johns and New Cross, and north of New Cross the alignment widens to six tracks. It may be possible to design a tunnelled alignment that also takes the Blackheath branch, and weaves in the ELL.

    At the end of all this, what additional capacity have you provided on the South East Mainline, and what new routes have you opened up? You begin to see why Lewisham has remained ‘unresolved’ for so long…

  106. Greg Tingey says:

    Bruce Deane & Jeanpierre
    what is South Eastern doing so badly, that LO could improve on … Well run trains to time, for a start!
    I know the ex-SER lines ar a dreadful tangle, whilst the ex-LCDR ones are much simpler, but suffer from lack of track capacity between Shepherds Lane Jn & Shortlands, never mind the previously discussed Herne Hill dilemma….
    However, watching both the ex-SER & the ex-GER lines recovering from a hiccup is very illuminating – the speed with which the Northern routes get back to normal, compared to the South is very noticeable. As is the frequency with which such screw-ups occur.
    Everyone “says” theat extending platforms Canada Water Wapping & Shadwell can’t be done, which is more codswallop. It would be very expensive, but it is entirely do-able. “Is it worth it?” is another question, which I’m not even going to try to answer.
    Tramlink need both expansion & 3-car trams, or trams working in multiple …..
    But I think that might be another thread.

  107. James GB says:

    Lewisham is fascinating because, even with an infinite amount of money, it is hard to imagine a rebuilding scheme that fits the local geography and pleases all existing users.

    Personally, I think that the answer in much of South London has to be “disentangling”: forget running trains to both City & West End termini, install flyovers and plain line junctions, then have big increases in frequency on the lines that remain coupled with improvements to interchanges.

    When applied to Lewisham, the obvious first step is to eliminate that crossing north of the station. You would do this by raising the Blackheath-Nunhead line over the other line. All trains from the Blackheath direction would now have to go to either Victoria or Blackfriars, but eliminating the junction and it’s conflicting moves allows a big increase in frequency.

    Next, eliminate the slow tracks on the avoiding line (all slow line trains from Hither Green must pass through Lewisham and on to London Bridge) and eliminate the link from the Hayes branch to Lewisham station (all Hayes line trains take the fast line). This would allow the reverse curves through the Lewisham station area to be eased into a gentler sweeping curve (to increase line speed & capacity) and creates a sliver of land for grade separation of the Hayes branch (new junction where the current avoiding line is).

    Lastly, the vertical room created by raising the Blackheath line allows the DLR to pass under that and over Loampit Vale. The first bit of the Hayes line is also vacant to just south of the avoiding line, so the DLR can take that over. The DLR can continue parallel to the existing Hayes branch to a new interchange at Catford (much of the land is parkland or waste ground). This would create a new link from the Hayes to substitute for the loss of interchange at Lewisham.

    All of this would create short term discomfort for a lot of passengers but it would produce long-term capacity gains.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Today the engineers are removing part of the embankment that passes under the new bridge area they failed to complete. An engineer who lives locally suggested that trains would have stuck the bridge had they fitted it. Is this incompetence or really part of the original plan? Would be great if one of you guys could take a look and investigate.

  109. jamesup says:

    The relevent mayoral decision is here:

    The new alignment runs below Crossrail and the Bakerloo concourses, so an interchange from Bishops Road va the Bakerloo line would (I think) involve going down three times, then up again.

  110. Unravelled says:

    Some photos of the work so far including operations at St Johns earlier today are at
    (Todays pics at end)

    I don’t think that the new bridge is significantly lower than the old. Apart fron the need to relay anyway, perhaps the reason for the work today is to reduce the height difference between the two flydown tracks. The new track meets the main line significantly before the existing one, (to avoid an existing signal structure?). It looks as if the down (uphill) new line will have a pretty steep starting gradient.


  111. Stu says:

    @ James GB

    Whilst a lot of what you suggest sounds great, I don’t think much if any is workable

    Because of the short distance between Lewisham station and current junction to the North, the Blackheath platforms would need to be moved away from the other line or raised. That either breaks the interchange feasibility of the station or implies huge cost and disruption in building

    Not sure how the alignment of the Orpington platforms can be changed. Anything to reduce the curve requires land take from a brand new development. But for all stopping trains, I guess the current alignment can still function

    But 4-tracking the Hayes line from south of Lewisham to Beckenham, whilst possible on a few stretches, would simply not fit through Catford or on the Syndenham to Beckenham stretch

    I agree untangling routes would help, but the opportunity to build the infrastructure to make that work has passed

  112. Tangent says:

    When applied to Lewisham, the obvious first step is to eliminate that crossing north of the station. You would do this by raising the Blackheath-Nunhead line over the other line. All trains from the Blackheath direction would now have to go to either Victoria or Blackfriars, but eliminating the junction and it’s conflicting moves allows a big increase in frequency.

    Precisely because of the flydown, that wouldn’t be the case. Up trains on the flyover could still rejoin the South Eastern Main.

    One plan I did have would be to move the platforms closer to London, so that the station platforms would lie where the crossover is now, at Thurston Road, and the crossover would be cited at the country end, with all Hayes trains using the flyover: perhaps the DLR could then be extended to central Lewisham.

    But, in the main, I dislike the idea of extending the DLR or London Overground in isolation: without increasing the real choices for South Londoners to get to the central area, you only reduce the pressure on South London termini minimally, and cause further capacity problems at Whitechapel, Canary Wharf and Canada Water.

  113. Greg Tingey says:

    How much property demolition are you prepared to accept?
    How much property was demolished to make way for “Westway”?
    But for a RAILWAY – shock, horror!
    Looking at a close-up sideways arial view (Bing maps), a huge amount of the property very close to Lewisham station is low-grade commercial – so there IS space to the North – if you can afford it, so that you could, in theory, have 4 tracks pointing towards Blackheath, on 2 levels.
    But it would be complicated & very, very expensive ….
    Probably not as good value for money as 6/8-car extending the ELL short stations, in fact.

  114. Stu says:

    @ GT

    Since it’s Lewisham, I say demolish the lot 😉

    (That’s a joke for anyone offended – especially the good people of Lewisham)

    Agreed, some development to the north should be feasible. And there are some industrial units on the south side largely to the west of the current station site. But to the south, particularly on the main island of land between the station and the loop line which would be needed if alignments on the mainline and Hayes are required, some of the development is brand new, or actually still being constructed. I am just guessing the demolition of brand new property might cause a few additional issues … ?

  115. Tangent says:

    As with Stratford, the redevelopment of Lewisham is not worth doing as an isolated project, but it would be much more attractive as part of one or more grand projects to improve rail use in the region as a whole.

  116. Anonymous says:

    Lots of development in Lewisham, as someone mentioned here

    Will developments round the station screw future station expansion, I guess that’s what TWA etc does, it safeguards areas. Nothing to stop developers selling off land adjacent to the station otherwise.

  117. Gerard says:

    I think a extension of the ELL to Hither Green via St Johns and Lewisham will provide better connections for passengers on the southeastern mainline also at Hither Green trains could use the Sidings just beyond the station but this could only happen if the Hayes branch was transferred from National Rail to the recommended extension of the Bakerloo Line to Hayes and Beckenham Junction via Lewisham that would have underground stations in Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross and Lewisham then go overground between Lewisham and Ladywell which will increase service on the Hayes Branch by a signifiant amount and this would in turn free up train paths on the Southeastern mainline to increase frequency on the Dartford Loop Line which was the main issue to Thameslink services no longer able to operate to Dartford as there are limited train paths available at present also the idea of converting the Bromley North branch to Docklands Light Rail is a brilliant idea with a extension from Lewisham to Bromley North via Hither Green and Grove Park that would have a service to Bank/ Stratford every 5 minutes

  118. Greg Tingey says:

    ELL to Hither Green & terminate?
    Ummm ..I still think you might need at leastone extra track, if not 2 & the property-demolition here would have to be alongside St Johns station – which would not be so easy.

  119. Long Branch Mike says:


    Wow that was one long sentence. Hard to follow after awhile…

  120. Anonymous says:

    Extension to the bridge at St. John’s is now installed. Work going on today both on the extension and on the footbridge.

  121. Stu says:

    Shame that they didn’t pre-graffiti the new bridge section to match the old part !

  122. Sydney of Sidenham says:

    A very informative article, even if this comment is slightly out of date…

    I was looking at the structure from the train on the way home tonight. The steel support between the former Tanners Hill Reversible track and the Kent line Up Main has been now been replaced with a concrete support in the finished article or possibly left in situ and then encased in concrete. Current railway standards require any support structure within 4.5m of the nearest track (measured from the nearest rail) to be capable of withstanding imposed loads from a derailed train.

    The previous steel support structure was obviously capable of carrying the load from the modern deck spanning the four Kent line tracks (see photo) and possibly the new section of deck spanning the new double Tanners Hill tracks as well, but would be vunerable in the event of a derailment, hence the need for the more robust concrete support. A lesson from the derailment and resulting bridge collapse slightly further down the line, perhaps.

    The finished structure is a significant improvement on what was there previously, shown in the first photo above. The longer existing span over the four Kent line tracks has been retained and cleverly spliced to the new deck over the now two Tanners Hill tracks, with the concrete support offset from being directly under the ends of the separate spans as would be done as a more conventional solution.

    Obviously when the original single track flyover was designed and constructed, no provision was allowed for future doubling, meaning that any structure in the way had to be removed to create space for the second track.

    I understand, from someone involved with the Thameslink Project, that the delay on fully completing the works within the original possession was due to problems with the ‘fit’ between the existing and new decks.

    As the existing deck is relatively new, it may have been possible to review the original drawings. However it doesn’t necessarily follow that the as-constructed deck for the existing deck was exactly the same as the design, due to fabrication tolerances amongst other factors. I expect a detailed site survey was undertaken, but this is quite difficult to do 4-5m above ground level, with limited access to the outside faces. If both structures had been fabricated at the same time, then the fit would have been proven in the steel fabricator’s yard. But when one section is already in situ, this is not possible.

    Clearly the Thameslink Project had identified the risk and had a had temporary deck available until the problem could be resolved, as shown in a latter photo. Good engineering!

    My only gripe is that details of what was quite a clever project have to find the light of day via a third party website and not directly via the Thameslink Project’s own publicity. As with all engineering projects, a lot of clever things happen and a BIG opportunity is missed not to explain exactly what is happening to the general public (or at least those who are interested).

    I attended a lecture last night on the rebuilding of the sea wall at Dawlish, following last winter’s storms. The BBC apparently installed three cameras to record events at the ‘Hole’ where the track bed was washed away, so an embargo on continuous publicity was not an option. Everything that happened at that site was filmed continously throughout the 8 week closure period. The disruption and the efforts to rectify it was apparently the main news story in the south west every night during the entire closure period and it attracted interest world wide.

    So the ‘orange army’ as the reconstruction teams were labelled effectively became local heros and re-opened the railway two weeks early to boot. The attitude of the various parties involved was a major contribution to the success of the project and this was crucial given the number of stakeholders involved and their differing interests. The various engineering solutions used were relatively straightforward and simple to construct, once the weather had calmed down a bit.

    By contrast, the engineering on Thameslink is somewhat more innovative and complex. Many people will be affected to varying degrees during its construction, just as they were at Dawlish. But the relative lack of similar, proactive engagement with the public to explain the works, exactly what is happening and why, with a suitable level of detail will result in the project teams being seen more as a foe than a friend, which will be to everyone’s detriment. There is so much more to positive publicity than a succession of bland press releases, written in management speak, with the seemingly enforced requirement to use the words ‘working closely’ and ‘in partnership’ at least once!

    What a waste of an opportunity to showcase British railway engineering in a positive light.

    Rant over – and apologies for digressing off-message…


  123. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Sidney of Sidenham,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I cover why the support is encased in concrete in excruciating detail in this article here.

    We did not know why the bridge there was a problem installing the new bridge but it was the subject of much speculation at the time. The splicing problem certainly makes sense so thanks for the information.

    I share your frustration about the lack of coverage of the Thameslink Programme by Network Rail. I have raised the issue with their representatives on a number of occasions when I have had an opportunity to do so but, needless to say, got nowhere.

    The lack of publicity for Thameslink construction work is all in complete contrast to Crossrail which only slightly over twice as big a project, cost wise. Thameslink do not appear to even have a communications team or, if they do, they do not communicate.

    If nothing else, as taxpayers, a little time and effort should be made to explain how £6.5 billion of our money is being spent and would pay dividends in creating better relationship with the travelling public.

  124. Greg Tingey says:

    Thameslink do not appear to even have a communications team or, if they do, they do not communicate.
    Which is one of the reasons, presumably, why the wimbleloop trains will still be going through the middle?
    Oh dear.

  125. Anonymous says:

    “I share your frustration about the lack of coverage of the Thameslink Programme by Network Rail.”

    This may have something to do with the fact that many of those affected can still remember when it was called “Thameslink 2000″—named for the year all this work was supposed to have been completed.

    It’s already fourteen years late and still has a few more to go! Why would anyone want to draw attention to that?

  126. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon – the delay is not the fault of the current project team is it? It’s largely down to the actions (or lack thereof) of politicians and their policies. You can argue Crossrail is 40+ years late but that hasn’t stopped there being a professional approach to engagement with the public and being relatively open about project progress. Meeting the project people on site visits has been an universally positive experience (for me) with lots of info being shared and an evident enthusiasm for the work being done.

    I’m sure there is similar enthusiasm on the Thameslink project but we know relatively little about what is going on despite good articles being written on here. In comparison with Crossrail I am relatively clueless about Thameslink even though I think it is a good project. If you can’t be bothered to inform people who support what you’re doing how do you manage / engage with your detractors? The really really hard bits of the Thameslink project are still to come and there is already concern about how the disruption is to be handled. Part of dealing with that concern is in explaining how well things are going and the complexity of the work. It’s evident from TV that there is an interest in big infrastructure projects and how they’re run and what they achieve. You still have to do the hard bit of explaining all the alternative transport arrangements but it’s about balance.

  127. Sydney of Sidenham says:

    Without wishing to deliberately offend, it’s probably not too far off the mark to claim that most PR people on large railway projects have a certain amount in common with the fictional PR from ‘Perfect Curve’ on TV’s Twenty Twelve and W1A!

    The Dawlish Repair works mentioned in my original posting had the potential to become the ultimate master class in how to ‘get on the wrong side’ (stronger phrases could be inserted) of a vast and diverse number of stakeholders. World Class, even. But they came through as heros! If it can be done under those extreme circumstances, it really can’t be that difficult. But railway PRs tend to go off into a concrete bunker at the start of a project and stay there for its duration!

    Thameslink 2000 has had its difficulties certainly and with hindsight many things should have been done differently. But I challenge anyone to wander around Borough Market in 2014 and observe how the new section of viaduct has been fitted into a very constrained ‘eritage space and not be impressed. And as for how the new bridge over Borough High Street was assembled on site and then moved into place, with the close proximity to existing buildings… Railway engineering doesn’t become much more impressive than this!

    There is a very interesting tale to be told regarding Thameslink 2000, even if much of it could be badged a master class in ‘lessons learned’.

    The ongoing stageworks to re-build London Bridge station, coupled with other works between the New Crosses and Waterloo / Blackfriars (and it is all interlinked and will be done concurrently) really is a story that needs to be told. And preferably before the really difficult part, where the Charing Cross then Cannon Street trains cease to call at London Bridge alternately, commences later this year…

    In the absence of Thameslink publicity doing the job, I’m minded to put some words together over the next few months to reveal all…

    But first I’m planning to warm up with a feature on the engineering challenges that would need to be overcome in order to reconnect the TfL owned infrastructure with the NR infrastructure at New Cross. This will not be a practice session with a box of crayons, but an account based on what actually happened at New Cross Gate, suitable amended to cover some subtle differences that would exist at New Cross. There was certainly much more to it that many people would necessarily think. And it was all done on time and within budget (of sorts)…


  128. Mark Townend says:


    My crayons are ready and willing to assist in illustrating your thoughts if you can persuade JB to make an article out of this!

    I think grade separation as per New Cross Gate at New Cross would be a non starter for many reasons, but with three platforms at the planners disposal on the slow side, and some if not all of the non-stop movements removed to Tanners Hill fly-down, the middle platform (‘B’ I think) might form a kind of ‘centre turn lane’ for up trains crossing over to ELL infrastructure.

  129. Sydney of Sidenham (a relatively well informed source...) says:

    Thank you Mark. I may well take you up on your offer, as producing the diagrams, which would be essential (picture = 1000 words, etc.) may take me ages. Both line diagrams and mark ups with something like a Google Maps background are anticipated.

    The proposed New Cross connection article would be divided into three sections:

    1. The cases for and against, to discuss some of the issues that would need to be considered to develop the necessary business case and also to follow up on some of the comments in various threads on the LR website

    2. The engineering factors requiring consideration to actually do it, both to the Slow and Fast lines. This would be based factually on ‘the one that was done earlier’ at New Cross Gate and explore in appropriate detail the issues that would need to be considered for each of the principal engineering disciplines (track, civils, electricication, signals, etc.)

    I would probably break it down into smaller bites to add that extra element of suspense! It will be guaranteed to thrill!!

    I have tried the ‘write an article’ link, but it didn’t generate the expected email template, so not sure if it is working, at least at my end.

    Perhaps JB would like to contact me via my personal email supplied in the section under my post name?


  130. Chris L says:

    It would be easier to link the London bound SE services to a new junction with the ELL after New Cross.

  131. Fandroid says:

    @SoS. If you delve back a bit on LR Thameslink articles you will find that the contrast between Crossrail and Thameslink is discussed at some length. The lack of a proper PR strategy for Thameslink is probably due to the inadequate project management structure criticised by the NAO. While trying to manage it all on a shoestring, DfT probably regarded PR as a luxury, but I suspect that their closeness to politicians makes them immune to the notion that the great British public might be very interested in the project on its own merits, and that PR does not need to be point-scoring spin operation.

  132. Sydney of Sidenham (a relatively well informed source...) says:


    Will take a look.

    A point I meant to include in the previous post regarding publicity is that if Thameslink are deemed to be poor at blowing their own trumpet, then that of a certain mega project set up to reconnect London with the North is significantly worse. By a considerable factor! Whether you are for or against this project and whatever route is eventually selected and built, there is going to be disruption to someone. And if your kitchen / farm / business / golf club, etc. disappears under the alignment, then having a rational explanation as to why it’s your property, rather than someone else’s 20 miles up the road may help to soothe the pain! Even if only slightly. Dawlish is an excellent example of what can be achieved if the right mindset is applied…

    A very hard sell is required to fully justify why this project is required and why the route has to go where it eventually ends up. Winning over hearts and minds…

    The alternative will be years of legal wrangling over every single item affected, which will blow the programme, the budget, personal reputations, political institutions possibly, with the (considerable) risk that vast amounts of tax payers money will be spent and wasted for absolutely nothing in return, if the project is subsequently cancelled. Its not just the direct money used to fund the project, but funds required by every stakeholder spent during the process of opposition which will detract from their core activities, to the detriment of us all.

    A succession of the usual bland press releases is absolutely NOT sufficient. Time to shift up a gear, HS2…


  133. MikeP says:

    @SoS – years of legal wrangling, programme and budget and blown…

    You mean exactly as happened with Thameslink 2000 ?? I didn’t follow the Borough Market mess in detail (which seems to have been the major blockage), but I get the feeling that if the original proposals had been more sympathetic to the site, let alone the programe having decent PR, then things could have got going much sooner (and maybe have been completed in time for 2012 ??).

    Still, in true British style, it’s been all right on the night so far :-). Though the Wheatsheaf still looks odd with its top chopped off.

  134. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The failure of Thameslink 2000 to deliver was nothing to do with the way it was presented. It was initially delayed by privatisation of the railways. You could hardly privatise midway through a project like this. Part of the problem was that privatisation was done on the basis of a “managed decline” of the railways or, just possibly, on the basis that things to remain broadly the same as currently. The absurdity of not having any real mechanism for improving services when the beneficary is not the same as the part of the organisation providing the benefit – as highlighted by Graham H on a number of occasions – shows how bad the framework was for any serious railway improvement.

    It was part of the privatisation commitment that Railtrack would deliver Thameslink after privatisation. The trouble was Railtrack was only really concerned with generating a dividend for shareholders. It seemed to be run as a property company saddled with the burden of providing (reluctantly) track for trains to run on. The problem was that you can’t really spell out in legislation exactly what “delivering Thameslink” means. As Railtrack had no incentive to provide a good railway service the sensible option to them was to provide the least cost scheme that would be regarded as consistent with their obligations.

    As it turned out Railtrack then realised there was absolutely no incentive to get on with the scheme. We had years of soothing words and flashy plans but no sign that Railtrack actually intended to get on with it. In the event it took the demise of Railtrack and a totally different philosophy of a newly created Network Rail to bring the scheme back to life again.

    Chris Green (Network South East) pushed hard for the project and he was a master of getting the publicity right. But not even he, when up against politicians determined to kick it into the long grass so as not get in the way of the ideology-based privatisation, could stop a political wind of change preventing an obvious common-sense project going ahead.

    I hope now you have the gist of what happened. The question to ask yourself is why on earth Railtrack, who had responsibility for advancing the project, would actually do anything to make it happen. All the incentives were to prevent it and you don’t need a publicity campaign for that. You just do nothing.

  135. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – “seemed to be run like a property company”. I recall a conversation with a bright young Railtrack Account Manager who was clearly much more interested in generating rental payments than the health of the railway. He was very interested in getting a rent in return for allowing ticket gates to be installed on Railtrack property. He even mused about wanting a share of the fraud reduction on the top of that – all for doing precisely nothing! Oh and Railtrack had no company standards or processes for things like gating so that was another dark abyss that we faced plus the prospect of charges from every (unspecified) department we might have had to deal with. I suspect the TOCs faced far worse nonsense than my mini experience of Railtrack.

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