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The branch line from Grove Park to Bromley North is only one and a half miles long. It has but two stations (excluding Grove Park itself) and those two are ridiculously close to each other. Traffic by London standards is pretty minimal and indeed there is no service on Sundays. Despite this, the branch attracts attention like no other in London because of the conviction of many people from the Mayor downwards that this is really an under-utilised asset that could be used more effectively. Here we take a brief look at the history and the options that are talked about and see how realistic they are.

A sensible location for a station

Bromley North is a natural rail head. Next to the station is the bus station where many routes terminate. There is also quite a large potential catchment area with no obvious alternative station for passengers who want to go to the City rather than the West End. More to the point, Bromley is a large town that would naturally be expected to have a good rail service to London and, given that a station in the town centre would raise a number of problems, the logical place for a station is to the north of the town which is closer to London.

Nowadays A Quiet Branch Line

The branch is not especially busy. It is easy to quote figures for station usage but on their own these are fairly meaningless. To put the usage in context, Bromley South (a major station) is almost ten times busier than Bromley North. The nature the traffic at the two stations is completely different however as Bromley South is busy throughout the week whilst Bromley North is primarily a rush-hour station.

Elmstead Woods station is located in a rural setting about 2 km NE of Bromley North. Instinct would tell you that it would be much quieter than Bromley North but even that station manages almost double the passenger traffic. This is probably explained by the fact that, being on the main line, the service is much better.

The only other station on the branch is Sundridge Park. It is so close to Bromley North that the ‘home’ signal for Bromley North that tells the driver which platform he is entering is actually located on the down platform at Sundridge Park. Surprisingly, despite being so close to Bromley North, it has about half the number of passengers that Bromley North has. Like Bromley North the vast majority are classified as season ticket holders. Although busier than one might have expected, it is still a very quiet station outside peak hours. In the wider context of South London surburbia, Sundridge Park would probably be a strong candidate for one of the dozen least used stations.

A Very Short History

The line from Grove Park to Bromley North (then just called Bromley) opened in 1878. It was double track from the start suggesting that reasonable traffic levels were expected. Although gradients weren’t especially steep it was on a continually rising slope all the way to the Bromley terminus. This would not have been that much of a problem for the steam engines on passenger trains at least as they were unlikely to be hauling many carriages and the only intermediate station was initially just a private halt.

The original station

By all accounts the original station at Bromley was pretty awful

The diplomatically-written history of the station on the Kentrail website states that:

the SER had entered its ‘economical’ era of station construction, when buildings were erected at modest cost

The Railway Magazine for July 1929 is not so polite when referring to the rebuilding of Sundridge Park as a public station:

One might have thought that the opportunity would have been taken to reconstruct the Bromley terminus at the same time, for a more undignified and out of date station would be hard to find, consisting as it did of a wooden shed for the booking office and waiting room, and another for the goods office, with a disused railway carriage as extra office space.

Given that there would have been more competition from the recently rebuilt Bromley South station (now with four platforms) at the other side of town, it is strange that such a state of affairs was allowed to exist.

One possible explanation is that the South Eastern Railway wasn’t really interested in passenger numbers and built the branch line either for goods traffic or to establish territory in the way that railway companies did at the time. Another more intriguing one is that the company still had hopes of implementing an 1865 proposal to tunnel under part of Bromley and continue onward to Hayes. Given that Bromley North is located on considerably higher ground than Bromley South, this would have almost certainly necessitated complete abandonment of the existing terminus and possibly the station at Sundridge Park as well.

The Service in the early days

It appears that from the early days the railway company ran a decent-enough service. Some trains ran all the way to Charing Cross or Cannon Street, whilst others provided a shuttle “connecting (or otherwise)” at Grove Park. There appeared to be an intriguing third category and that was trains that were worked through as rear portions of slow main-line trains which divided at Grove Park.

Incredibly, a letter in the Railway Magazine in 1929 refers to the year 1905 and a description of an all stations to Hastings train detaching a rear portion of the train at Grove Park for Bromley North. This would appear to be a ridiculous imposition and delay to inflict on the Hastings passengers whose journey would have been quite long enough anyway. All this just to save the need for a few passengers using a London branch line from having to change trains. Around eighty years later the Hastings Line would get its revenge.

The coming of Southern Electric

In 1923 the railways of Britain were amalgamated into “the big four”. In the next few years Southern showed a remarkable degree of ambitious but business-like management and rationalisation of the lines now owned. This was true rationalisation which involved best practice and consistency across the territory not the 1980s euphemism for cutbacks.

One of Southern Railway’s early decisions was to completely rebuild Bromley North station. The passenger station building including passenger platforms was brought into use by the end of 1925 and completed several months later.

The current station in 2012. Thanks to Phil Richards for allowing us to use this. According to a comment cited by Tom Burnham on the flickr page this was “replacing a wooden shack which … was called the worst station on the South Eastern Railway, but only by people who had never been to Dungeness.”

Modernisation did not end with the station. Southern’s 3rd rail electrification of the suburban lines into Charing Cross and Cannon Street was proceeding apace and by July 1926 full electric services were running. During the rush hours there were four trains each way (two to Cannon St and two to Charing Cross) and presumably eight carriages long.

At this time the service must have been beneficial to both passengers and railway management and such a service would not have been run if there wasn’t a demand for it. One attraction for the railway company must have been the ability to provide seats for large numbers of people at inner suburban stations without having to run a near-empty train to a far-flung destination. Moreover, it must have been one of the rare cases where rolling stock could manage more than one out-and-back journey in the peak hours which were of considerably shorter duration those days.

A Decline from 1976 but not because of lack of demand

All in all the service was popular, at least in peak hours, until 1976. Although Bromley South offered more frequent and faster services it was Bromley North that offered the better service to the city.

In 1976 Southern’s “Operation London Bridge” signalling scheme came into effect. This created problems when it came to pathing the Bromley North trains. The connection at Grove Park was to the fast lines. At least in the down direction the Bromley North trains would have to call at Grove Park using the otherwise-little-used fast platforms and hold up following fast trains. From Grove Park to Hither Green trains would either have to use the fast lines and do the same at Hither Green (or miss out the stop) or cross on the flat to and from the slow lines. The latter was not desirable because one of the main objectives of the resignalling scheme was to avoid crossing the main line on the flat on the approach to London.

The scenario then got worse. If the train stayed on the fast lines on its way up to London it would then find itself on the Charing Cross lines and have no means of calling at Lewisham, St Johns or New Cross. So Bromley North passengers would get a lovely fast service but hardly one to justify ten-carriage trains.

There was a simple (in railway operating terms) solution to this – just get rid of the through trains and run a shuttle. This was not feasible, in terms of adverse passenger reaction, in the peak hours but this was implemented for all off-peak services. This more-or-less doomed the branch to be little used off-peak. A factor that must have contributed to this was the existence of two reasonably frequent bus services between Bromley North and Grove Park. Why wait for a half-hourly shuttle when a bus will get you to Grove Park, where the trains are more frequent?

It was clear that Southern Region wanted to get rid of their through trains. During this period a vociferous local railway users association was set up to resist cuts to the peak-hour through service.

The end of a through service is inevitable

By the 1980′s Southern Region were coming under more and more pressure to find slots for the increasing number of long-distance commuters. In 1986 the Hastings line was finally electrified and the rather unsatisfactory narrow-bodied Hastings DEMUs replaced by EMUs. The old DEMUs were an operating pain in that they could not accelerate as fast as an EMU and they were also disliked by customers. The EMUs were more popular and that, as well as faster journey times, led to increased usage on the line.

A 4-car class 465 at Bromley North. Normally these would only be used in peak periods with a 2-car class 466 more than adequate to handle the very limited off-peak traffic. Thanks to Matt Buck for permission to use this.

In the end it was inevitable. It was extremely hard to give preference to through Bromley North trains that just got in the way of everything over long distance trains carrying commuters who pay four-figure amounts for their season tickets. The through service was withdrawn in 1990 and the direct connections with the up and down fast line platforms at Grove Park were removed shortly afterwards.

Looking south east from the branch platform. It has been more than twenty years since there has been a direct connection to the adjacent fast lines.

A possible ray of hope dashed

By now the only possible glimmer of hope for a restored through service was if demand in the inner suburbs made it necessary to run some short workings into London to provide the necessary capacity. Whilst Bromley North was hardly ideal as an originating point for such a service, there wasn’t anywhere else very suitable either.

Of all things, it was the Channel Tunnel that put an end to that possibility. When trains were planned to run through the Channel Tunnel, the main proposed route through Kent was via Orpington. It was realised that there would a potential problem because trains often terminated there in one of the four through platforms. This would be awkward as Orpington would be the last place where it was possible to delay a domestic train so that the Eurostar train could have priority on the two track line down to Sevenoaks. Mainly for this reason, in the early 1990s new terminating platforms 7 and 8 were built on the down side of the station adjacent to the slow lines.

Platforms 6, 7 and 8 at Orpington are ideal platforms for terminating all-stations trains. Thanks to Nigel Chadwick for allowing us to use this photo.

If one were to run a service to ensure that passengers at Grove Park and Hither Green could get on a train in the peak periods one would far rather terminate it at Orpington in preference to Bromley North. The extra running time would be at most six minutes and there would be a virtual absence of conflicting movements.

Recent developments

The December 2011 timetable introduced a 20 minute interval off peak service. This is easily achievable for 2 car trains on a line with a journey time of just five minutes. It is not entirely benefical as it is a 20 minute service feeding into an off-peak timetable based on half-hour and quarter hour frequencies. Off-peak connnection times for trains to London are either 4, 5 or a whopping 13 minutes. It appears that the trains could still be described as “connecting (or otherwise)”.

The situation today

Whilst the future of the branch is secure it is now hardly ideal. For a start the shuttle service terminates at platform 1 at Grove Park but other services depart from platform 4 or 5 so changing trains is not trivial. With so many people changing trains it is probably impossible to get a seat at Grove Park in the morning rush-hour. In fact you would be doing well to get on the first train that arrives. Leisure traffic to Bromley is probably limited by the fact that the modern shopping centre is a five minute walk from the station and involves crossing a busy road.

It is time to look at the alternatives. The main suggestions, with varying degrees of official support are: conversion to tram, extend the DLR from Lewisham to join it and extend the London Overground from New Cross to join it.

Conversion to Tram

Shortly after Croydon Tramlink opened and was judged a success, it was natural that people looked around for somewhere else to emulate this. The Bromley North branch was an obvious choice with many similarities to the Addiscombe branch. Suggestions either used the Bromley North branch as the basis of a new tram system or by various convoluted routes proposed somehow joining it to Croydon Tramlink. Unfortunately the Bromley North branch is very different in character from the lines that made up Tramlink, excepting perhaps the original Elmers End – Addiscombe branch, the southern half of which was abandoned and is now a linear park. It is really difficult to see the potential for more than one additional stop (New Street Hill is the only obvious candidate) and a line that skirts the edge of Sundridge Park golf course for much of its route and also adjoins playing fields and a cemetery doesn’t have the potential for traffic that the Croydon Tramlink, which mainly passes through built up areas, does.

Significantly no suggestions have come from Bromley or Lewisham council, and West London Tram has shown what happens if you don’t have the local council at least supporting (and preferably leading) the project.

Extend the DLR from Lewisham to Bromley

An investigation into the possibility of extending the DLR to Bromley was the surprise suggestion of Mayor Johnson in his manifesto during the most recent mayoral elections. Whilst this has some initial attraction it is not obvious that this would generate any significant extra local traffic. If you could continue northwards from Bromley beyond Grove Park then it would appear that a single-track route to just short of Hither Green could be made by moving the NR tracks over to the east. It is hard to see how that route can be continued to join the DLR at Lewisham.

View from the branch platform looking towards London. Nowadays this is the only connection to the branch line. Any plan for the DLR to take over the branch would probably involve punching a route beyond the buffers. This would be difficult and an engineering challenge but not impossible. The picture is deceptive and the overbridge is much wider than it appears to be.

From the other direction it is difficult to see how the DLR continue south from Lewisham. A viaduct for the DLR over Lewisham National rail station would be almost impossible and unsightly and going underground would be extremely problematic.

The orientation of the DLR terminus was carefully chosen to enable a continuation south, with Catford seen as a likely destination. It was recognised that such an extension would only be possible in the event that the borough of Lewisham went ahead with its proposals to reroute the A20 and bring the heart of the town centre nearer the station. It would still seem that this is the only realistic way that the DLR can be extended southward without abandoning its existing terminus.

This picture, showing the Ravensbourne in the foreground, is taken with the A20 behind the camera and is in alignment with route of the DLR. If extended it needs to cross the Ravensbourne and will probably need to go underground at the first opportunity.

The problem is that Lewisham have now published their proposals and there is no provision for southward extension of the DLR. The options for routeing the DLR southward would appear to be very limited and to be realistic would probably need to form an integral part of any future development. Given how advanced the plans are it would appear there is little chance of the DLR going further south unless there was a major intervention by the Mayor to overrule Lewisham’s proposals.

There does not appear to be any provision for a southward extension of the DLR in Lewisham council’s plan for regeneration of the area.

Extend the London Overground from New Cross to Bromley

The idea of extending the Overground to Bromley has has one good thing going for it – there would be a suitable match of traffic levels. More critically you wouldn’t overload the East London line. A four (or five) car train every fifteen minutes is the sort of traffic level one would be looking to run on the Bromley North branch.

The problem is that the Network Rail lines between Hither Green and New Cross are extremely busy. Even in 1958, when the report of the Lewisham Rail Disaster came out, the inspector wrote:

[W]ith the electrification and new signalling it became possible to run many more trains and, the four track main line through St Johns is now one of the busiest in the world

More recently Network Rail’s Summary Route Plan for Kent states that:

The route between Orpington and London Bridge operates at maximum capacity during peak times.

It therefore seems that no more peak period trains can be run between Hither Green and New Cross. Network Rail are moving towards a goal of making sure all trains are at their maximum length possible when occupying critical sections of track in peak hours. One just cannot see them agreeing to run five car units in each direction every fifteen minutes in peak hours along this section of track. These would not only to take up valuable slots currently used by packed trains, but also generate conflicting movements between lines where there are none currently. It should not be forgotten that the whole reason for withdrawing the branch trains in the first place was to free up slots on this section of track.

One alternative would be a dedicated track to bridge the divide, but even if this were possible it would be very expensive and not cost effective. Once any significant length of new tunnel is involved the costs would be completely disproportionate to any benefit. The only hope is if an additional track, or tracks, could be justified on the basis of a number of benefits of which linking up to the Bromley North branch was just one.

A sober realistic conclusion

It is really hard to see anything radical that can be done in practice to increase usage of the Bromley North branch when considered as a standalone project. It does seem another problem destined for the “too hard” pile. Perhaps a better idea is simply to single the completely unnecessary double track when the track comes up for renewal and then radically simplify the signalling so that the line can be run as economically as possible without affecting the quality of service. Then one day in the distant future maybe, just maybe, a radical scheme will evolve to relieve the railway congestion in inner south east London and, with the train paths released, the through trains from Bromley North to London can be reinstated or incorporated into a grand new scheme.

In the meantime the line will continue to stand out as the only remaining suburban shuttle service in London that is south of the river. Something future LR Quiz entrants would perhaps do well to mentally note…

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There are 153 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    I think the testing of the 376s gave SouthEastern Trains (government controlled, post-Connex) an opportunity to run extra off-peak trains direct from Bromley North to Cannon Street. I don’t know how many passengers took advantage of the service but I’m sure they appreciated not having to change at Grove Park.

  2. peezedtee says:

    Spelling and grammar check:
    “on there own” should be “on their own”
    “outside peak-hours” should be “outside peak hours” (hyphen is only applicable when the phrase is being used attributively, which it isn’t here)
    “These would not only to take up valuable trains slots” should be “These would not only [no "to"] take up valuable train [not "trains"] slots” [Corrected. Thanks.PoP]

  3. IanVisits says:

    While not cheap, it would not be impossibly difficult to cut/cover a tunnel from Bromley North across the main road and under North St (heading Westwards). After that, it is largely parkland to link up with the mainline service just south of Shortlands station.

    The minimal property demolition (a couple of shops and part of a car park) would be recoverable by redevelopment.

    In essence, Bromley North could become a terminus, facing in the other direction, but more usefully, a terminus next to a major bus stop, and with a shuttle option heading north if so desired.

  4. Anonymous says:

    By studying the Google Map I am a bit skeptical about the cut-and-cover thing. Unless you are asking for a sharp curve I think Bromley North would have to be curtailed to route the thing under North Street, and the Ravensbourne (oh not again!) is a bit unfriendly in the middle of the park.

    East Street seems a more reasonable alignment for trains, but of course the potential of tearing up the church is utterly lethal.

  5. RB says:

    An excellent article. I for one would love to see Tramlink extended from Beckenham J into Bromley and onto Grove Park. I could see it running on reserved track up Kentish Way and then onto the Bromley North branch. The gradients in the area would make light rail the only viable option. We can hope !

  6. RB says:

    Re the only suburban shuttle service south of the river, what about the Waterloo -Twickers-Waterloo Rugby specials on big match days? They are mainly south of the river!

  7. mr_jrt says:

    As unsightly as it may be, the advantage the DLR has going for it is it’s infrastructure requirements, so perhaps a lightweight viaduct over the NR tracks between Lewisham and Grove Park at the pinch points where slewing isn’t possible could provide the extra capacity required.

    Other than that it’s Tramlink from Beckenham Junction, really.

  8. timbeau says:

    “Given that there would have been competition by now from Bromley South station ”
    Bromley North had always had competition from Bromley South. the LCDR station opened (as Bromley Common) in 1858, twenty years before Bromley North.

    “no obvious alternative station for passengers who want to go to the City rather than the West End”
    Bromley South serves three stations in the City – Blackfriars, City TL, and Farringdon.

    An interesting feature, presumably done to try and boost ridership, is that Bromley North is in Zone 4 whilst the much better-served Bromley South is in Zone 5.

  9. Greg Tingey says:

    Pity that Lewisham council seem to have dropped the ball completely regarding DLR extension ….( OR any consideration of a general rebuild of the main station?)
    Actually tram, but extended from the sharp bend in the New Addington Branch, via Hayes would be better, with street-running between Bromley N & S stations (it’s a suprisingly long way) & tram up to Grove Park on the existing tackbed.

  10. timbeau says:

    RB

    A surburban shuttle which is entirely south of the river can be found between Hampton Court and Surbiton whenever there are problems on the main line requiring thinning out of the service. 50% of the Waterloo & City Line is south of the river too!

  11. Anonymous says:

    A suburban shuttle exists south of the river hourly between Tattenham Corner and Purley supplementing the two through services. This isn’t subject to special services or when SWT is screwed :-)

  12. Jeanpierre says:

    How about:

    1. Extend DLR from Lewisham to Catford/Catford Bridge, taking over that stretch of the Hayes branch;

    2. Connect the rest of the Hayes branch to the Catford Loop;

    3. Continue the oft-discussed Bakerloo Line extension from Lewisham to Grove Park in tunnel (yes, I know it’s expensive!) via Hither Green, up for air along the Bromley North branch to Sundridge Park, then back into tunnel to a new underground Bromley North with access at the existing site for the bus station and at the country end to be closer to the heart of the town, and on to terminate in a new underground interchange with Bromley South?

  13. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Anonymous 03:47

    Remember I am on home territory here …

    No it doesn’t. There is a train from Tattenham Corner that is advertised on the National Rail website as only going to Purley. In reality it pulls into platform 5 at Purley and waits for a Caterham train to be attached to it before continuing as an all-stations train to Victoria 12 minutes after arriving. It does not “shuttle” back to Tattenham Corner and if my memory services me correctly the platform indicators describe it a Victoria train from the very start of its journey.

    I did not state the bit about the shuttle to catch people out. I had totally forgotten about this service as it is pretty well useless as it runs once an hour only 12 minutes after the decent fast through service from Tattenham Corner to London Bridge.

    @timbeau and RB
    I don’t know how any service on the Waterloo & City or one that runs into Waterloo can be described as a suburban shuttle. If you allow one end to terminate at a London terminus then just about all suburban services count. I will concede the Hampton Court shuttle and wish that I had written timetabled suburban shuttle.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Clearly what is needed is to emulate the Lausanne automated Metro line M2 which is capable of dealing with extreme gradients. It’s very odd to wait on steeply sloped platforms and then have to hang on for grim death as it ascends or descends. Create a nice steep tunnel down from Sundridge Park and tunnel under Bromley town centre to link to Bromley South station. In the land of unlimited money and no business cases it could continue south to Hayes to link to the National Rail service. Please note this is a humurous suggestion.

    A fully automated metro might well be a sensible choice for intensive suburban services that are relatively cheap to operate where conversion costs were lowish. New build and tunnels gets us to a very different place cost wise and without huge patronage (as Lausanne Metro M2 has) has no chance of happening. I don’t see Bromley as having that public transport usage profile.

    I’ve only used the Bromley North branch once and suffered from the dire connection at Grove Park and had nearly 25 mins to wait (frequency was 30 mins then). It did get me to the bit of Bromley I wanted but the appalling connection was enough to put off me using it again.

  15. @ timbeau 02:58

    Bromley North had always had competition from Bromley South…
    Yes, what I meant to say and what I wrote were quite different things. Sundridge Park station was rebuilt and opened as a public station in 1896. Bromley South was rebuilt when the line was four-tracked during 1893-94. What I should have said was increased competition. I have reworded the whole sentence to make this clear.

    no obvious alternative station for passengers who want to go to the City rather than the West End
    When I wrote this I was thinking of nearby stations and, as Greg points out, it is a surprising distance to Bromley South from Bromley North – and in the wrong direction. I also should have wrote “heart of the City” to emphasise I meant the area around Bank and to exclude Blackfriars etc. I know that they are technically in the City but city workers tend to want to go to Cannon Street not Blackfriars.

    @ Anonymous 05:46

    I don’t see Bromley as having that public transport usage profile.
    That to me is the heart of the issue for this branch. I don’t believe there is any great demand for intermediate traffic – certainly none that would justify even moderate capital expenditure. Historically it has been a convenient direct route to central London serving the northern part of Bromley. In my mind it either regains its former role, which is unlikely in any short or medium term scenario, or it plods along as a little-used branch line feeding into the main line at Grove Park.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The shuttle should be increased to 4tph to fit in with the mainline services. It is a shame that the branch has little potential; I live near Bromley North and ran a website for a while on the branch http://www.bromleynorth.weebly.com . I hope that you enjoy it.

  17. swirlythingy says:

    If Bromley North was rebuilt in 1925, why was the Railway Magazine complaining about its state in 1929?

    I wouldn’t be so hasty to dismiss the potential patronage of a tram on the Bromley North trackbed merely because the surroundings are predominantly rural. You have just accurately described the thought processes of TfL when they were drawing up plans to fold the Wimbledon-West Croydon line into Tramlink, which at that time was a little-used backwater running mainly through either industrial areas or out-and-out countryside, serving few centres of population besides perhaps Mitcham. Therefore, they initially ran a meagre service on it. We all know how that turned out…

  18. Shuttle User says:

    Sorry Pedantic but that is not strictly true. Yes the Tattenham Corner shuttles between the peaks do indeed form Vic services. But those early before the morning peak, late after the evening peak and on Sundays do just shuttle back and forth Purley to Tattenham. It’s caught me out before when I have raced to platform 6 to catch a train only for it to arrive from the south to platform 5 and then continue back the way it had come in.

  19. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Swirlythingy

    Railway Magazine wasn’t complaining about its state in 1929. In 1929 it was complaining that the opportunity was not taken in 1896, when money was found to rebuild Sundridge Park, to rebuild or a least improve Bromley North. On the contrary it was heaping praise on the newly rebuilt station.

    I may be completely wrong, and we will probably never know, but I don’t think the extra traffic is there to be had. I don’t think this branch is comparable with Croydon-Wimbledon. There is no equivalent of Valley Park (IKEA etc.), there are decent parallel bus services, Grove Park is hardly a significant generator of passenger journeys and the branch is just one and a half miles long with realistic potential for only one additional stop. For comparison the adjacent tram stops of Mitcham and Mitcham Junction are 0.69 miles apart. If it were to be successful as part of a tram network then I believe that the converted branch line would only provide a small contribution to that success unlike Croydon-Wimbledon which was fundamental to it.

    @Shuttle User

    I don’t doubt you experienced what you described but I cannot find any evidence for this in the timetable. On the rare occasions I get up early there are no scheduled Purley shuttles and certainly none on Sunday. I can only put it down to engineering works. There have been a lot of Sunday changes due to reduced capacity at East Croydon (reduced from 6 to 3 platforms) whilst they complete the overbridge and reducing the service to a shuttle would be consistent with this.

  20. Long Branch Mike says:

    http://www.bromleynorth.weebly.com doesn’t seem to be a live link.

  21. Whiff says:

    It does a shame that they can’t squeeze 4 tph in, at least in peak hours. I guess you have to turn round the trains in 2 minutes at either end which would be tight, but fairly routine on the Underground.

    Personally I think the priority should be to provide a direct connection between Bromley and Croydon. Once that happens, presumably by Tram, then the benefits of extending on to Grove Park could be considered.

  22. Whiff says:

    The link works fine for me.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The Tattenham Shuttle is exactly that. I’m not sure how it arrives on the Branch in the morning (probably a portion off a Caterham train) but it shuttles back and forth all day M-F arriving Purley P5 at 57 mins and departing at 02, connecting into the 02 to LB and out of the 33 from LB. There are always some people making the connection (presumably beats waiting 18 minutes for the next through train). The train arriving at 1656 attaches to the 1708 to Victoria (I don’t think it is advertised in the timetable, but it happens). On Saturday, the shuttle continues through to at least 2202, and I have spoken to someone changing onto it that late, although the connections from LB are not good by then. The only shuttles on Sunday would be engineering works. I would hardly call it suburban though – after Woodmansterne (nowhere near the village) it is distinctly rural and for me provides access to the Kingswood Arms – a cut above the pubs in Purley.

  24. Anonymous says:

    As it is never going to become a mainline railway, why not make it single track, put a fence down the middle and make the other half into a cycle path, thus gaining a useful amenity which everyone can enjoy using? And if you find that commuters prefer to cycle to Grove Park, you can convert the railway to lightweight rail using a Parry People Mover and save money and energy.

  25. Darian says:

    @anon 0:01,

    Yeah but the problem with that idea is that if money was found to do something with the line then network rail (or tfl for either LO, LU or TramLink) would have a fight on it’s hand to get the land back. Also I would of thought it’ll be cheaper and be less work just to drive the trains on the line as is than to reduce it to some “Parry People Mover”.

    If only the fast tracks could just go underground before Grove Park and come up just before London Bridge would save a lot of conflicting movements that the metro service causes with i.e. Hayes, New Cross Charing Cross services and then Bromley North could have a direct London service.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Whiff,

    There was a direct link from Bromley to Croydon – until someone thought it was a good idea to sell the chord at Norwood Junction for housing.

  27. Mark Townend says:

    Here’s an idea for a heavy rail alignment from the Bromley North branch to the Sidcup line, achieving a grade separated crossing of the fast lines.

  28. Mark Townend says:

    Oops! I forgot the link -

    http://www.townend.me/files/bromley.pdf

  29. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @ Anonymous 03:47 and 11:34 and Shuttle User

    Well I stand corrected! I am amazed that despite the number of hours I must have spent at Purley station that I have never seen this. I have on a few occasions caught the 16:53 from Reedham which arrives at Purley at 16:56 and attaches to the Caterham – Victoria train as described and I had thought I had seen this done at other times but obviously not.

    After examining the online National Rail enquiries I can see, almost to my disbelief, that the shuttle does indeed run on Saturdays up to around 22:00. This is not true Monday-Friday when the evening service is only two trains an hour – and don’t I know it. Again I have been completely unaware of this. There is no shuttle on Sunday.

    In the up direction the shuttle is obviously intended to connect into the hourly service from Tonbridge to London Bridge via Purley which probably explains why it is only once an hour.

    I am staggered that I got this wrong and can only apologise.

  30. DW54 says:

    Mark Townend
    01:21AM, 26th January 2013

    Your plan may have some merit – if it generates sufficient traffic. How will the junction at Sidcup Rd sit with existing lines? Also, I note that you show a station on a grade. Is that permissable for new-build nowadays?

    I wonder if the shuttle could be placed under a LOROL concession through TfL – in order to get tighter turnaround and a 15min interval service?

    Cheers

    DW downunder

  31. Greg Tingey says:

    This “no station on a grade” business is total codswallop.
    How have we managed, over all these years without killing thousands of people?
    Of course, we haven’t done so, because the premiss is so wrong.
    How to alter it, though, now that it appears to be set into legalese?

    I still wonder about tram:
    New Addington branch – Hayes – Bromley S Bromley N – Grove Park & then what?
    Street-or part-street running via Lee to Lewisham?
    Um?
    London NEEDS more trams, lots of them.
    Given theor run-away sucess in Manchester & Croydon.

    Pity that Leeds was squashed just too soon – by DafT, of course!

  32. Greg Tingey says:

    Talking of suburban branches, but in this case a through connection……
    DafT’s petty meanness & spite strike again – or so it seems:
    http://www.barking-gospeloak.org.uk/history/20130121_press_release.pdf

    This obviously needs further comment, but may I suggest a separate article on this ongoing fiasco?

  33. Anonymous says:

    How many people use the peak services, is a four car train needed?

  34. Pete says:

    Pedantic,

    As you’ve now realised, the Tattenham shuttles do run regularly throughout the weekday – I drive them on a regular basis – departing Purley at xx02, arriving Tattenham xx25, departing Tattenham at xx33 and arriving back at Purley at xx56. The same unit, a 2 car 456, is used all day with the running number 2Dxx, except for the last up shuttle which runs as 2P61 with the Caterham portion attaching at Purley to run as 6 cars up to Victoria (1708 from Purley).

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the 456s go to SWT in December – even though the connection to the up Tonbridge train is handy, it is only a lightly used service (I have run a completely empty train all the way from Tattenham to Purley on a few occasions) and even 2 cars seems excessive for the number of passengers.

  35. Pedantic of Purley says:

    One of the good things for writing for London Reconnections is one learns so much! Thanks Pete (and everyone else) for that. We are way off topic but …

    We (Reedham and Smitham [now Coulsdon Town]) users used to get four trains per hour. This was because of a commitment that was given when they closed Coulsdon North, which was practically adjacent to Smitham, way back in 1983. We were promised four trains an hour from Smitham to compensate. This would continue for at least ten years with the implication that they would be kept if demand merited it.

    A few years ago they withdrew the trains that started at Smitham and went a circuitous route to London Bridge if I recall correctly. One quickly learnt to change for a fast train and not stay on it. That gave us four trains an hour and although they were not quite evenly spaced it was pretty well good enough for turn up and go. Also missing one’s train was not a big deal.

    When we lost those Smitham starters they put in the shuttle. I suspect one of the reasons for going all the way to Tattenham Corner was to go some way to meeting London TravelWatch’s (and others) aspiration for at least 4 tph in the London suburbs including the Tattenham Corner branch. The trouble is, in my opinion, that three trains per hour with a half-hourly service plus one other just doesn’t work. In practice you memorise the times of the half-hourly through trains and ignore the other one. The only way it would really work properly is to have a decent quarter-hourly service interval with suitable connections at Purley. The trouble is this simply isn’t possible with the current timetable.

    It would be nice to see the 456s go as the 377 Electrostars are much nicer. Maybe they will run a three car unit or maybe they will just abandon the service although presumably that would have to be negotiated as part of the franchise commitment.

    I can see that the Tattenham Corner branch is a bit of a problem child. As an Anonymous pointed out it is distinctly rural once is it outside the Greater London boundary and as such hardly qualifies as being a suburban shuttle yet people expect it to be treated as a London suburban service. Looking into the future there is the issue of Thameslink. One of the proposals is for this long branch to be included but I really cannot think it is a good use of expensive new fixed-formation (8 cars) dual voltage rolling stock when there is so little traffic on the line and in all honesty not that much potential for more unless there is a substantial park-and-ride element.

  36. timbeau says:

    Pedantic – “It would be nice to see the 456s go”
    I think you’re in luck, they’re coming to SWT in the next few years to make up 10-car trains. Unfortunately for us, SWT are going to downgrade their seating from Southern comfort to SWT’s far inferior standards.

  37. Mark Townend says:

    DW54
    05:38AM, 26th January 2013

    My new platform would be on a grade of about 1:100. I think there have been recent platforms constructed on steeper gradients, but they have all required a departure from standards to be negotiated. NR guidance on station development states a preference for no steeper than 1:500 but this can be exceeded where trains do not reverse or terminate in the platfrom – see:

    http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/rus%20documents/route%20utilisation%20strategies/network/working%20group%202%20-%20stations/investmentinstations.pdf

    (page 22 – references appropriate RGS)

    The 2 level crossings shown would be ABC(L) type with low speed approach and fairly short road closed time. Low speed approach with local monitoring would be appropriate with all trains stopping at the new platform.

    The new single track alignment would be built over an existing water course and footpath through the built up area to avoid any significant property demolition, so the convenience of a new station is almost certainly necessary in exchange the local loss of amenity, otherwise the branch development could prove very difficult politically.

    At the junction with the Sidcup line, a double junction would be preferable with a short section of twin track on the branch, so a train entering the branch can wait for a previous late runner clear of the main line. At the junction site the Sidcup line is straight and situated on an embankment, but I can’t determine the gradient there. The new branch might better pass OVER the A20 rather than my initial assumption of under it. The existing plain line signalling would need to be altered to accommodate the junction, and an appropriate system devised for working the branch.

  38. Pete says:

    Pedantic,

    You do get a direct service to Watford Junction from Smitham, sorry, Coulsdon Town now! Ok so it’s one a day, and early in the morning, but still….

    I suppose that once (all?) Caterham/Tattenham services are extended through the Thameslink core, those services will be run with 377s (for obvious reasons) but I’m not sure they will be fixed 8 car formations? I don’t know. Presumably they will be 2×4 car which can split/attach at Purley as they do now.

    But as you say the current levels of (particularly off peak) traffic to Tattenham does make the line something of an anomaly in the Travelcard area; anything more than 2tph or longer than 4 cars outside the peak just doesn’t seem worthwhile unfortunately.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Of the various tram based solutions the least bad is the one via Bromley town centre. It would be straightforward to get through to Bromley South with on street running. Likewise, at the Beckenham end, Beckenham to Shortlands on street is entirely feasible. The tricky part would be Shortlands to Bromley. Itis possible that some kind of raised level running could be provided between the two, but this would be disruptive and expensive and would likely be disproportionate to th patronage of the line. Alternatively, Queen Anne Avenue, at a pinch, could cope with on street running.

    Addington – Hayes – Bromley, on the other hand, is not feasible. There’s no way that even a single track line could be run through the streets of Hayes village.

    The extension of the Overground could be feasible if the Hayes branch was moved over to the Bakerloo line, freeing up paths on the mainline at Lewisham. But this might not be a priority for Network Rail…

  40. Anonymous says:

    Loved the article.

    From my home by Sundridge Park in peak hours it is 23 minutes to London Bridge, despite the very inconvenient change-over.

    Regrettably, I completely agree with the clear analysis of the issues above – no solutions that make the best use of this line are available in the foreseeable future.

    As a very recently ex NR employee my opinion is that given:

    a) the double digits cuts demanded of the railway budget that will be occasioned by the ORR Draft Determinations due shortly;

    b) the generous opportunities for possessions available;

    there is unlikely to be wholesale renewal of the p-way on the Bromley North branch line in the next 15-20 years. Patch and mend will continue to be the order of the day, and on that basis with 1/2m odd users a year it will by no means be the least economical (on a farebox to capex/maintenance) part of the network.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Re Tattenham Corner shuttles, now that working timetables are online full details of how them (and all other trains on NR) are on the NR website: the Tatt/Cat branches are at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/timetables/working%20timetable%20(wtt)/december%202012%20-%20may%202013/WF/WF01B.pdf.

    Back on topic, Bromley North is at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/timetables/working%20timetable%20(wtt)/december%202012%20-%20may%202013/WC/WC01.pdf.

  42. Carl says:

    The problem with Bromley North is that unless you’re going to the city of London it’s pretty much useless. They’re local bus services that go to Grove Park at a decent frequency anyway. If the 2 Bromley stations worked together like the 2 Croydon ones did (i.e. Bromley North handles the stopping services like West Croydon and Bromley South handles the semi-fast and fast services like East Croydon) then it would make sense. I know due to the track layout from London terminals this would be nearly impossible to apply though.

    I do like the London Overground extension suggestion though. I’ve always said that terminating at New Cross was a wasted opportunity and could of been extended to at least Lewisham.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Surely instead of just looking at Bromley North to Grove Park we should be looking at a much bigger picture?

    Southbound
    I would suggest extending the East London line service to Bromley North and then through a tunnel to Bromley South. Of the 4 tph that go to New Cross send 2 tph to a new terminus at Bromley South. I would also divert the Cannon Street-Orpington service (2 tph) to Bromley South as well (and later in the evenings when Cannon Street is closed run them from Charing Cross). To compensate Orpington for its loss of service to Cannon Street, l would divert the remaining 2tph from the East London line – thus at a stoke linking Orpington to the LOROL network.

    I think this would only be possible by a tunnel from New Cross to Hither Green with a new station at Lewisham, thus linking that station to the LOROL network.

    Northbound
    It makes no sense to terminate the New Cross services on the East London line at Dalston Junction. The loop to hackney should be reinstated and the 4 tph run through to Tottenham Hale where a couple of extra platforms would have to be constructed. So we would be making a Tottenham Hale-Stratford-Canada Water-Lewisham-Bromley South service.

    This could generate a lot of traffic. For example:

    Stansted
    Stansted is a very busy airport – a lot of people travel via there and for people in south London often the main journey is to go to London Bridge then catch a bus to Liverpool Street (or to Victoria and get the tube from there). People in Kent would be able to travel via Bromley South, Hither Green, Lewisham etc and make a journey without having to travel via central London on the tube or bus – a nightmare if you have loads of luggage.

    And then there’s the advantage of linking this part of London with places link Cambridge via Tottenham Hale – again without having to travel into central London.

    Stratford
    A useful link for passengers to travel from south-east London to Stratford and then on to other destinations without having to travel into say London Bridge then getting a bus to Liverpool Street – such as services to Romford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Clacton, Harwich, Ipswich, Norwich etc. And vice versa, as Lewisham, Orpington and Bromley South are well connected with the wider rail network in south-east London and Kent – such as Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Hastings etc (and without having to go to Stratford International and getting the more expensive (albeit quicker) services to some of those destinations).

    And yes, it would cost a lot of money to build a tunnel from New Cross to Hither Green – but how does that compare with any proposed extension of the DLR? (or even the tram from Addington to Grove Park via Hayes). The chord to Hackney from Dalston Junction is going to done anyway isn’t it? Think of the benefits financially of linking Lewisham to the LOROL network – let alone all the other destinations.

    Finally
    I used to commute from Bromley North to Charing X in the 1980s on the direct trains and they were packed so reinstating a direct service from Bromley to London Bridge, Cannon Street etc would be very popular. I still use the shuttle service sometimes in the rush hour and I see that its still very popular with commuters – and this is backed up by the passenger numbers – which confirm the number of rail users is going up: from 0.529 million (2004–05) to 0.624 million (2010–11) in Bromley North and the same for Sundridge Park: up from 0.239 million (2004–05) to 0.312 million (2010–11). This is 936,00 rail users per year.

    Think about that: that’s heading towards a million – without a direct service to London, or the East London line being extended there. And compare this with Tattenham Corner station: 0.244 million – a mere 0.244 million passengers per year. Certainly the Bromley North branch also carries more passengers than the entire Epsom Downs branch – which has retained its direct services to London: Epsom Downs (69,672 passengers), Banstead (115,680 passengers), Belmont (139,754 passengers).

  44. Former widmore green resident says:

    I’m glad I don’t have to use the Bromley north line anymore. Even though I lived less than 15 mins away by walk it was better to get the 269 bus to chislehurst where there was a more reliable service and chance of seat. After a couple of months of this I moved!

    It was worse in the evening with late trains and missed connections – staff with no ounce of common sense driving off as the Sevenoaks train pulled into grove park.

    A more cost effective solution than heavy capex solutions – give people what they want – ie a more frequent service for peak hrs. This could be achieved through the use of 2 trains on the line (its double track other than grove park) to give a 10 min frequency in peak hrs. Then if you miss a connection it is not so long to wait. ridership would increase, and may tempt a few off the busy Bromley south services.

  45. JamesC says:

    It all seems to keep coming back to the lewisham problem, both with this branch, and the hayes branch. Is it not time for tfl, the mayors office, and lewisham to sit down and sort it all out, and do what has been needed for many years in the area, a complete rebuild, of the stations, track layout (including new tunnels and flyovers, and a new integrated station. This would also probably involve the rerouting of the A20 from running through the town centre, and relieve a lot of congestion in the area on the roads, rail, light rail and buses, and could lead to the pedestrianisation of lewisham town centre.

    Clearly this would involve £££££££££££ and massive disruption for a few years, but would have a number of massive benefits in the long run, notably the massive number of jobs it would create to construct it all, and the massive regeneration of the Lewisham area (maybe Westfield would want to pay half the bill :) in exchange for a new shopping centre )

  46. Greg Tingey says:

    James C
    Yes – as you say £LOTS … – including 6 tracks to Grove Park?
    Needs doing, though

  47. stimarco says:

    I think Mark Townend has almost hit upon the right idea here, but not as a straight replacement of one heavy rail branch with another.

    There are two key questions that need to be asked before designing any new route:

    1. Do we really want to create yet another radial route into central London (or thereabouts), or would an orbital solution make more sense?

    In other words: does it make any sense to nail Bromley North onto, say, the London Overground, or Bakerloo, at vast expense, simply in order to get people into London more quickly, despite the existence of perfectly good, *four-tracked*, high-capacity alternatives less than a mile in each direction?

    Given SE London suffers from famously poor terrible orbital connections, while Bromley itself has no particular need for brand new, expensively engineered, radial services to London given its existing infrastructure, I would strongly favour an orbital solution of what to do with the Bromley North branch.

    2. Is it feasible both technically and financially? This is where most heavy rail / heavy metro options fall over:

    Bromley grew from a small market town at the top of a rather significant ridge. Bromley North station is just on the edge of that original town centre and therefore at the top of the hill. Bromley South, on the other hand, sits at the *bottom* of the hill, and it’s quite steep on that side. You’re not going to get a heavy rail train – be it NR or LOROL – from Bromley North to Bromley South without digging some serious tunnels and very expensive, deep-level stations on the way. Of the existing branch, you’ll only be converting the Grove Park end of it into a tunnel approach, rather than “reusing” it in any useful way. It’d be just as easy to simply build a brand new, more direct, route if another radial line is your goal.

    For light rail, extending Tramlink from Beckenham fails for a similar technico-financial hurdle: Shortlands.

    The railway bridge over the main road between Beckenham and Bromley at Shortlands junction is only 12′ high, which makes running trams under it effectively impossible as long as they rely on overhead wires for electrification: you’d have to reduce the usable height to barely 10′ to allow other vehicles to pass safely under them. Changing the height of the bridge is not an option: the station is right next to one end, while the flying junctions (built at great expense for the Eurostar project) start immediately after the other. So the only viable solution for trams to get to Bromley from Beckenham is most likely to cross through the residential area on the other side of the railway and make their way across the park and golf course. This means missing out on a lot of potential customers, as well as annoying the park and golf course owners and users.

    Given the above, I favour creating a second Tramlink ‘hub’ at Bromley, to complement that at Croydon. The two would be linked initially via Bromley Common, Hayes, Coney Hall and New Addington, connecting with the existing network at the latter. However, said link need not even be built first: A Catford – Bromley – Chislehurst line could be constructed initially. This would also provide a suitable depot for Bromley-focused routes.

    Creating a second focal point for Tramlink greatly enhances the case for more expansion of this network throughout the SE of London, and also eliminates the current problem of having to make every Tramlink extension pass through the inherently constricted loop through Croydon’s town centre. Bromley has ample room for double-track loops and the like in its (already partly pedestrianised) town centre, making it ideal for later expansion to towns around Bromley. Furthermore, Bromley and Catford are already connected by a road that is unusually wide for much of its length by SE London’s road-building standards, so extension to Catford would not only be relatively easy, but it might even justify closure of the Catford Loop line stations between Shortlands and Catford itself, speeding up the services on that line.

    For the Bromley North branch, I would modify Mr. Townend’s project to provide an orbital Tramlink route that would run (effectively) all the way from Wimbledon, via Croydon and Bromley, to Abbey Wood. The service would run up Mason’s Hill / Bromley High Street, then via Bromley North (which would likely have to be demolished), Grove Park (where the line would climb up on a ramp alongside Pullman Mews to gain access to the street level), then either Sidcup or Bexley, and onwards via Bexleyheath to Abbey Wood, interchanging with all three of the “Dartford” lines. The line could be routed via Thamesmead, though the detailed routing will depend mainly on CBR measurements. There are plenty of options for stretches of off-street running along this arc too.

    That route wouldn’t be created in a single, monolithic, build. Nor is it likely to be operated by a single service all the way from Abbey Wood to Wimbledon. Nevertheless, it would offer a very convenient alternative to using road vehicles and be far cheaper than a major rebuild of the never-fit-for-purpose South Circular.

  48. Phil J says:

    Anonymous 11:13pm – I used to commute from Hackney Central to Bromley for about 18 months nearly 10 years ago – so your (slightly madcap) Tottenham to Bromley line would have been a dream for me back in those days – however, if you were looking to get from Stratford to SE London, I think you have better options via the DLR to Greenwich or Lewisham rather than travelling via Dalston. Plus, even though the option of going east from Dalston Junction has been safeguarded, there’s no chance of it happening as it would result in a flat junction between DK and HC, further reducing capacity on an already squeezed line.

    My first journey up there was London Fields -> Liv St, bus to London Bridge, then London Bridge -> Grove Park -> Bromley North – but I very quickly realised even though it was NE London -> SW London -> SE London, travelling via Highbury and Islington and Victoria to Bromley South was a MUCH better option.

    Now, it would be even better, as the NLL is so much better (this was during the Silverlink mess), and Bromley South to Victoria appears to be something resembling a regular service, with a fast (ie, non-stop via Herne Hill rather than via Denmark Hill) at 15 min intervals – when I was going that way, the Eurostar made a mess of the frequency, and between 5 and 6pm, there was no service non-stop via Herne Hill from Bromley South to Vic.

    Bromley North was such a no-go for the reasons listed in the article – not only was it not particularly convenient for my office (which was south from Bromley South) but the standing around at Grove Park for 15+ minutes made it a pretty dreadful option. If I wanted to go to London Bridge, easily the best route was to get a bus to Petts Wood as it had a fast train at around 5:30. (Orpington wasn’t a ridiculous idea either)

    Re Bromley North line – I would have thought that a very simple tram from Bromley South to Grove Park via North and Sundridge Park would be a useful conversion – is there any actual requirement for a tramlink service to be connected to the rest of the network?

  49. Anonymous says:

    Yeah I think Mark Townend’s idea is really good, Assuming of coarse-
    1. The Sidcup Line has spare capacity
    2. The Line North of Hither Green has spare capacity or easily obtainable

    I suppose the main merit is access to the slow lines of the SER. The Scheme would also serve more communities as well as being a useful Bromley – Sidcup Link.

    Stimarco’s scheme would do well NOT to demolish the Station Building at Bromley North, it being listed aswell as one of my favourite buildings in the area! Far better to demolish the adjacent office block which towers over Bromley North, the council have actually suggested doing so in order for what it calls ‘Bromley Transit,’ a bus or tram scheme which would take over the branch.

    I think heavy rail is still good as it is high capacity, quick ect. remember tramlink was a cheap option not necessarily better (well not in Bromley anyway.)

  50. Anonymous says:

    Also, what program did you use to make the map?

  51. Malcolm says:

    I like the orbital tram scheme.

    It may not be a co-incidence, but Paris has a number of tram routes which follow a very similar orbital pattern (notwithstanding the comparatively functional perepherique). I suspect that there is a neat match between the volumes of orbital traffic and the capacities of light rail. Heavy rail (in a London-sized city) is a better match volume-wise for most radial routes. Or something.

  52. stimarco says:

    @anonymous:
    “Stimarco’s scheme would do well NOT to demolish the Station Building at Bromley North, it being listed aswell as one of my favourite buildings in the area!”

    I’ve never liked Bromley North’s station: it’s a PR contrivance in architectural form – a fiddly, fussy, pretentious lie of a station building. Walk through that grandiose façade and all you find is the tiny terminus of a wizened old branch line that’s easily eclipsed even by its nearby rival: the Hayes branch. (Hayes’ station is arguably a much more honest piece of architecture. Simple. Clear. Not too much; not too little. Just right for what it is. Commuters certainly appreciate a quality environment, but they’re not going to be gawping at it like a tourist for long periods.)

    Bromley North’s station building is downright *dishonest* architecture. It tells whopping great porkies in concrete and stone, promoting itself as some glorious gateway, but giving you only a poorly-connecting shuttle service to Grove Park instead. It’s an overdressed spiv. A conman. Lift the curtain and you’ll see it’s nothing more than an illusion.

    Bromley has far, far better buildings than this pathetic attempt to replicate the grandeur of Waterloo station’s façade. And I’m not wedded to the notion that only dead architects created great architecture either: the neighbouring office block may not be a work of art, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the (Listed!) Eros House in Catford!

    “I think heavy rail is still good as it is high capacity, quick ect. remember tramlink was a cheap option not necessarily better (well not in Bromley anyway.)”

    Heavy rail has its place, but it has a number of drawbacks when it comes to building a new, frequent-stop, route through an urban area like south London. Heavy rail rolling stock needs relatively wide curves – a tram can cope with *much* sharper curves. Heavy rail trains cannot cope with very steep gradients (e.g. Mason’s Hill in Bromley), while trams point and laugh at such obstacles. Trams can go over a hill that an urban metro or heavy rail train would have to tunnel through. Low-floor trams are readily available off the shelf, so station platforms can be just a signpost on an ordinary raised footpath, while metros and trains require high-level platforms.

    Furthermore, Tramlink already exists, so it would be silly to pick an incompatible technology, even if you don’t link up to it right away.

    Mark Townend’s proposal requires tunnelling and can only provide links between heavy rail stations, with a couple of stops in between. It’s a solution looking for a problem: why replace a shuttle service between Bromley North and Grove Park with a much more expensive shuttle service between Bromley North and Sidcup? What problem does this solve? If it’s orbital journeys options you want, a tram is a far better choice of technology. (A suspended monorail of some form would be an even better one as it offers even more flexibility in routing, but as I mentioned earlier: Tramlink already exists.)

    Any proposal that envisages the wholesale replacement of the Bromley North branch by something else, must also take into account the fact that Network Rail won’t be too pleased by the notion of adding even more trains and / or conflicting movements to its network: unless Mr. Townend’s project includes a new bay platform at Sidcup, the only option is for services to continue, sharing the line with other trains. NR will give Mr. Townend a Very Hard Stare at the merest hint of a suggestion of this idea even considering the merest possibility of crossing his mind. Not. Gonna. Happen. (Remember, you’ll need to stable the rolling stock and sign-on your drivers somewhere too. At present, that “somewhere” is Hither Green, which is just up the line from Grove Park. The only option for the Mark Townend’s proposal is Slade Green, which is at the wrong end of a complex delta junction very close to Dartford.)

    Converting to light rail actually makes this element much easier as there are a number of suitable sites all around Bromley itself. Even Bromley’s existing bus garage complex could (theoretically) be rebuilt as a bi-mode depot, with buses on one level and trams on another. There’s certainly the space, assuming nobody’s too attached to keeping that small McDonald’s and car park next to it.

  53. The other Paul says:

    Off topic, but bringing some of these threads together, the most ‘obvious’ Tramlink extension would seem to me to use the remainder of the disused rail route south of Coombe Road towards Sanderstead, which could be routed onto a street running section down Brighton Road into Purley. From there it could take over the route to Tattenham Corner and perhaps onwards up the road to Epsom.

  54. The other Paul says:

    …and to make that more on topic, Purley doesn’t really need a tram service to Central Croydon, even if one could be squeezed in, so trams from that branch could actually run towards Bromley via Addington, Elmers End or Beckenham as others have suggested.

  55. Stu says:

    Tram has to be the way forward for this branch, and as others have said, problem is that it doesn’t really go anywhere that passengers want to go by tram. Some interesting ideas above on where the northern end could go

    Bromley Council would need to really get behind tram for it to work. Extending through Bromley North station into the town centre along East Street etc would be easy enough, though the descent to somewhere (Bromley South or Shortlands) would be a challenge. Down the High Street toward Masons Hill is as realistic as any scenario, and the High Street is wide enough to emulate Croydon’s wide George Street stretch, albeit at a gradient

    A tram link into Croydon via Beckenham can surely be done, though with some challenges to overcome. Albemarle Road could take trams along street towards Shortlands from Beckenham, on the level from the current Beckenham Junction terminus and avoiding the current Shortlands to Beckenham Junction two mainline track bottleneck. But down Shortlands Hill and along to Bromley poses challenges of gradient, land availability and narrow roads that are already congested

    But what then ? Bromley South site is very tight for a new tram terminus or interchange. The natural space is occupied by a relatively large new police station. An underground solution for tram, DLR or tube makes little sense given it would make the level problem even more acute, and add additional cost – perhaps huge. For a deep level tube line like Bakerloo, you may as well start afresh and tunnel all the way in

  56. Stu says:

    Nice drawings from Mark Townend

    But I am not sure how this really helps, certainly not for getting through to New Cross. The Sidcup line rejoins the mainline at Hither Green, where the bottleneck returns. Some diveunders around Grove Park and using the NR land alongside the line up to Hither Green would surely not be too costly, and still get you to the same problem in the end …

  57. Anonymous says:

    If Boris Island, in any of its various proposed forms, goes ahead, then in addition to a dedicated high-speed link, an upgrade to the Gravesend line for additional fast traffic on existing NR routes would probably be needed. There is already a problem here when it gets to the suburban lines west of Dartford, all of which are two-track, resulting in the usual capacity-and-speed problems with fast services competing with frequent stopping services; and this would only get worse. This might justify quadrupling the Sidcup line, most of which has green or other non-residential land on one or both sides, with the slow tracks being linked to an extension of either the East London Line or even the Bakerloo. Clearly, anything that major would not be done specifically with Bromley North in mind, but were it to happen, it would then be a comparatively easy matter to make Bromley North into a branch of that extension.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Fabulous. Do one on the Romford-Upminster branch.

  59. timbeau says:

    easy – add it into Crossrail: it would make a good match with the also-orphaned Greenford branch.

    Some minor changes might be needed at Emerson Park and Castle Bar Park to accomodate the 12-car trains!
    (nb this is not a serious suggestion – it might be incorporated into a Romford area tram network if one were ever to happen, otherwise, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it)

  60. rattusrattus says:

    Adding Stu’s idea of using Abermarle road for the Croydon tram, I suggest it be a single track so as not to impinge too much on car traffic. The parallel road, ‘the avenue’ can take the trams going in the other direction. Bromley centre itself offers plenty of streets wide enough for a Croydon type one way loop- the main problem is integrating this loop with the Bromley North branch in a meaningful way (tis a pity the Downham estate can’t accommodate trams into Catford) and what Stimarco said about the Shortlands Bridge being too low.

    As for the various ideas of splitting the Addington branch and going to places like Purley- much like the idea of linking Epsom Racecourse with Tattenham Corner by tram- when the areas the tram go through would be so leafy, the low population density means such schemes will score very low on the BCR.

  61. stimarco says:

    The problems with extending Tramlink from Beckenham to reach Bromley directly from the present terminus are many, not the least of which is the fact that there’s a perfectly good heavy rail service connecting the two towns just a few yards from the Beckenham terminus of Tramlink!

    Crossing the very busy junction the line faces onto is also a major problem: It’s already rammed with traffic now and there’s no obvious way for the trams to get across it (diagonally, no less), without making the junction more complex in allowing diagonal tram movements whenever a tram is ready to depart or arrive the station.

    What’s more, there simply isn’t an obvious off-street option for the route, so it’d be almost entirely on-street running at least as far as Shortlands itself. This imposes a lower speed limit and involves massive disruption to the roads and residents during its construction. Worse still, there are some very steep gradients involved unless you take a very circuitous route. This makes the tram option even less attractive. Note, too, that on-street embedded rails are also a lot more expensive to maintain and replace over the lifetime of the system, so the trick is to have as little of that as possible.

    Trams are, in my view, better suited to providing *alternative* journeys, not merely duplicating existing infrastructure. The latter only makes sense if there’s a case for more local stops – e.g. if you were building a tram shadowing an express railway with very few stations. But the rail networks in this part of London are of an urban metro character, so this isn’t the case. (Yes, they also handle expresses from outside Greater London, but that’s why I also advocate new express tunnels into London to segregate those fast services. But that’s whole other debate.)

    I’d extend from Beckenham towards Downham, where the unusually wide A21 (by south London standards at least) lends itself rather well to trams between Catford – possibly Lewisham – and Bromley. There are all sorts of options for branches from this trunk route too.

    Off-street routing options are easier to find on this route: you’d need a flyover to cross the main lines, but you could have services running on a new branch from Beckenham Junction, flying over the mainline tracks, then up the little-used Mid-Kent Line curve for a short distance to reach Bridge Road, where a ramp up to some on-street running would bring us to Stumps Hill Lane and, very briefly, onto the A2015 very close to Beckenham Place Park. (“Braeside” has its merits too as an alternative). It’s not obvious from the aerial photos, but the properties on this stretch of the A2015 as far as the point where Beckenham Place Park’s boundary reaches the roadway, are set quite some distance back from the road, so some segregated running should be possible. Beyond these, there’s only Beckenham Place Park itself; a small strip of the park’s land will suffice to continue running off-street, with only the two park entrances requiring very short embedded rail sections. This gets you most of the way to Downham, via Beckenham Hill station.

    Another branch could run directly to Catford, or thereabouts, by taking over the Hayes Branch entirely and converting that to Tramlink too. (Yes, spluttering commuters, I know! But bear with me…)

    With some minor deviations and new stations – e.g. a station inside the Bell Green shopping / commercial centre alongside the railway, and a curve running closer to the Bellingham Estate – this could provide a much more useful all-day service, rather than its more limited current use pattern of serving mainly peak time commuters. It also means the Hayes branch of Tramlink can be easily linked to the existing routes to Croydon (and, eventually, Crystal Palace), which offer many alternative services to dozens of destinations, not just London itself.

    This also means any Tube extension project need not slavishly adhere to the existing Hayes branch infrastructure, most of the stations of which are nowhere near the centres of the places they pretend to serve. Instead, it can build stations where they’re actually needed, rather than cutting corners reusing existing stations. Furthermore, *it would need fewer stops!* By letting the tram take over the local feeder journeys, a Tube extension can keep the number of stations it needs to the barest minimum, reducing its costs. This also makes it easier to justify running even further – Biggin Hill, for example – and it doesn’t even need to call at Hayes at all. West Wickham – New Addington might be a better option, for example.

  62. Greg Tingey says:

    timbeau
    No
    If Hall Farm Lea Bridge was reinstated, you could have Chingford – Greenford X-rail services

  63. Nick in Sutton says:

    Linking Tattenham Corner and Epsom by tram is not really practical. The roads into the town centre are quite steep, busy and narrow. Which is a shame, because it might be the kick up the backside that Southern and SWT need to put Epsom into zone 6.

    Linking up with Epsom Downs and on to Sutton might have been useful and they’re not far apart. They built a housing estate in the way when they cut the line back in the ’60s, but there are fields behind which might give access. Getting down there doesn’t look too tricky, but requires upsetting some golfers and negotiating a roundabout which floods approximately once a week. It’s at the Tattenham Corner end that things might be difficult without a bridge over the road and the racecourse, which extends over the road on Derby weekend, just when a tram would be busiest. Given that it’s outside TfL’s manor, I can’t see it ever happening.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Nick in Sutton: It was in 1989 that the Epsom Downs line was cut back. (I was a daily commuter from Banstead at the time.) When the major part of the Epsom Downs station site was being sold off for development, serious consideration was given to linking ED and TC, but local opposition won the day. A shame, though, that the development plans didn’t retain passive provision for such a link. Now, as you say, it would have to go through the outlying fields, which would be a lot less convenient for commuters. (PS. I don’t remember the roundabout ever flooding?)

  65. Whiff says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments so apologies if I have missed something obvious or that has already been discussed. However, can anybody explain why a flyover or fly-under wasn’t built to connect the Bromley North line to the slow lines at Grove Park. I’m guessing that if the line from Orpington to London Bridge is ‘full’ there isn’t much pointing building one now as there are no potential paths for direct trains from Bromley North to London but I wonder why one wasn’t built when the lines were re-signalled in the 1970′s. I don’t know Grove Park at all but looking at Google Earth there seems to be a nice patch of wooded land either side of the tracks where a link could be built.

  66. Graham Feakins says:

    stimarco – Your most recent post in particular concerning Tramlink from Beckenham Junction to Bromley fails to recognise a number of important aspects. Firstly, one of the original intentions of Tramlink was to link Bromley to Croydon by light rail and not simply to terminate at Beckenham but rather in the Bromley Market Place environs, e.g. outside Bromley North. Nevertheless, Tramlink has already proved a success between Beckenham and Croydon and has removed traffic from the adjacent roads as a result. It would be interseting to know the traffic flows today between Croydon and Bromley simply because Tramlink has not yet reached Bromley.

    Whilst the tramway would seem to parallel the main line railway between Beckenham Junction and Bromley, the railway from Bromley (North and South) certainly does not link Bromley with Croydon – the tramway would do. That was the whole intention and if it had not been for the classical reticence of the Bromley Council to wish to have anything to do with trams within its borders, the trams might have been running there now. Croydon Council/London Transport was well aware of this Bromley obstinacy and left Bromley to its own devices early on. Bromley was simply repeating its old history when it refused the LCC trams running into Bromley from Downham, which as many will be aware turned a sharp left at the foot of Bromley Hill to serve the Downham Estate as far as Grove Park but were never extended to Bromley from the north.

    You make an odd comment about trams having to cross diagonally at Beckenham Junction to gain Albemarle Road. So? The alignment could join well before the traffic intersection. Tramlink crosses several major traffic intersections in Croydon with little or no problem, e.g. at Addiscombe Road and on the Shirley Hills roundabout at the top of Gravel Hill. Trams can intermingle with traffic on the roads. Trains (normally) cannot. You never know, that road junction at Beckenham Junction might not be quite so rammed with traffic if the trams were carrying the traffic. That’s the idea! Traffic engineers can design properly when encouraged.

    Then you mention steep gradients; surely that is where trams are ideal. There are several examples in Croydon, to which ought to be added in the (near?) future the 1 in 9 up the Anerley Hill axis to Crystal Palace (up which trams ran until 1936). Trams can take sharp curves as well. What is so different about the route through Shortlands up to Bromely Market Place? A comment was made about passing across the main line at Shortlands and that the railway bridge would not have sufficient clearance. The normal solution would be simply to lower the road under the bridge, although a more elegant solution possibly would be to design and construct a graceful viaduct bridging both the railway and the deepest part of the dip in the roadway.

    You say that you prefer that trams do not duplicate existing infrastructure. Well, what do you think they do in Croydon? They are effectively duplicating roads and other routes but in a far more successful manner. I can drive from Beckemham to Croydon but the tram is the preferred mode.

    All the arguments about disruption during consrtruction I feel are a red herring. We’ve been here before – when the railways and roads were originally constructed. Alternatively, just wait until those road junctions are rammed to a complete standstill. What is the difference and comparison between what you suggest (“on-street embedded rails are also a lot more expensive to maintain and replace over the lifetime of the system”) and the cost of the disruption during road resurfacing? Worn tram rails can be maintained overnight in situ with effectively no disruption, whilst the effective life would be at least 40 years if laid correctly in the first place. A worn-out term perhaps but tramway ‘permanent way’ has a far greater life than its surrounding roadway.

    Just think along the lines of Croydon to Bromley town centre by tram instead of car as per the original intention and we shall be on firmer ground. There might well be a revival of the Bromley North branch then.

  67. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham Feakins
    Bromley, as you say, have disgraceful “form” on public transport.
    They also led the campaign against “Fares Fair” back in the 80′s, and “suceeded” in getting Travelcards made significantly more expensive (on the grounds that there were “no tubes in Bromley, so why should we pay for them?”)
    No wonder H G Wells’ was so keen to get out of the place!

  68. Stu says:

    @ stimarco

    I think your Bromley to Catford tram line axis has some real merits, the route is over-congested with buses, indeed very wide for South London, yet for much of the week underutilised by road traffic

    But the Bromley Hill stretch would be the sort of on-street run that you rule out, and the link from Beckenham Junction onto it (presumably around the Peter Pan) would be a real headache along the route you mention. The entire Bridge Road area in Beckenham is already a road traffic nightmare, probably an accident blackspot too as is, and adding trams to such tight corners and gradients would be a huge challenge – quite possibly insurmountable. The roads you select to get back onto the Beckenham Hill A2015 alignment are very tight residential streets on steep gradients and I don’t see them being credible routes for the tram

    And I don’t see too many credible alternatives either

  69. Andrew says:

    A further alternative if tram tracks from Beckenham are found too difficult could be tram-trains with a link into the middle of Bromley.

  70. Stu says:

    @ Andrew

    But given rail already links Beckenham to Bromley South, surely unless the existing Tramlink network is expanded, the benefit is negligible

    What is needed here is (1) a new tram route to take bus or road traffic OR (2) new stops opening up new users, again to take existing bus, road or rail traffic

  71. Milton Clevedon says:

    Hum. Where is the human geography in all this, as opposed to rail geography? Eg, access to jobs, and political and economic values such as GVA, VfM, BCR etc? Maybe even reverse commuting to South London, where a tram line linking to ‘Croydon City’ might have some wins…

    Pedantic’s original article still sums it up for me. The BN branch continues to do, and is still wanted for, what it originally did, which is getting fairly quickly, and now not quite so easily, between Bromley and Sunbridge Park catchment and the real City (of London). There are also some hinterland feeder buses that serve Bromley North.

    Shame these days about the Grove Park interchange but it’s not the end of the world (c.f. HG Wells also mentioned above). Key there is to syncopate with the main line timetable if that is possible.

    But central London isn’t the only destination. Access to the Isle of Dogs shouldn’t be ignored.Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf Group are aiming for 200,000+ jobs in that territory. Tying in with DLR could be vital there, as Bromley North has the potential to be only 30 minutes from Canada Square, just as fast as into the City.

    The DLR Lewisham station location still allows it to ramp southwards up and alongside the Lewisham loop line, even if you have to shift the present platforms to get DLR over Loampit Vale with the present road configuration. That potential was built into the original design. Bigger hurdles have been encountered in many places with other projects.

  72. Edgepedia says:

    Looking at google maps there does seem to be sufficient space to bring a single track under the fast tracks and up slow into a bay in the centre of widened slow island platform, as at Greenford. This would allow a shuttle during the peak and through services off-peak. This would probably be expensive and you need to close (or move) the branch platform and slew the fast tracks first.

  73. Stu says:

    @ Edgepedia

    Not sure about the platform arrangement, but there is loads of space to the south of Grove Park as it stands, I am sure this could be used somehow with a dive-under. But it is narrow under the bridge to the north which would be difficult to widen since there is a large building over the railway

  74. John says:

    The fact that the Bromley north branch is a stub tends to make you think around the stub, but if it were connected with Croydon Tramlink you then might get the sort of through traffic Bromley – Croydon that we see today with Wimbledon – Croydon. Currently the only public transport between Bromley and Croydon is bus. The suggestion of running via Hayes to the New Addington branch is intriguing; an initally sparse bus service between Bromley and New Addington now does well.
    Once you start to think of the Bromley North branch as part of a bigger picture with more journey opportunities, things start to change. You start to think that people might well want to go from New Addington to Lewisham, for instance.

  75. timbeau says:

    Surely you could build a tram route from Croydon to Bromley without touching the Bromley North branch? On the contrary, it’s difficult to see how you could make any use of it at all for such a route. If the BN branch is to find any greater use at all it needs to be extended at its northern end, but where to? Threre is already a perfectly adequate service towrads Lewisham, which would not be improved by running trams alongside it. That leaves north, towards Eltham and Woolwich, or north east towards Bexley. Doubtless a north south route across SE London would improve connections, but it’s a long way from the current end of the trams at Becky Junction.

    Why would a succession of trams linking New Addington to Lewisham be any more attractive than the existing, and surely faster, route via Elmers End?

    It seems to me that he Bromley North branch is a solution looking for a problem to solve. The Addiscombe branch eventually found a purpose. So did the Broad Street viaduct. Maybe the Bromley North branch will do so one day. Until then, let’s just let it get on with doing what it does – it’s not in anyone’s way, and gives the good burghers of Bromley (not otherwise very well served by rail) a choice of routes to both Lewisham* and central London.

    (*yes, they do have a choice – they can go via Catford/Catford Bridge).

  76. stimarco says:

    @Graham Feakins:

    If you’d read my earlier posts, you’d know I’m not against a Croydon-Bromley tram connection. I just don’t think extending the BJ branch is the right way to achieve it and prefer a route from a junction near New Addington via Hayes instead: it’s much, much easier to provide a 90% segregated route there.

    BJ is served by a branch with long single-track stretches, which drastically limits the potential frequencies. Taking over the Crystal Palace heavy rail route via Birkbeck would resolve that problem, but you still have the multiple flat junctions along that line: the Elmers End branch, plus the junction at Sandilands with the New Addington branch, plus any eventual Crystal Palace branch. That’s a minimum of two junctions, with a third likely added to the mix in the medium term.

    Furthermore, you can’t get a tram from BJ to Bromley by following the main road that passes under Shortlands’ station: there simply isn’t the clearance. You’d need to build a whopping great (and bloody ugly; the whole *point* of light rail is that it’s supposed to be cheap to build!) viaduct crossing both the main lines and the roads.

    Dropping the road level is technically feasible – anything can be built given sufficient time and resources – but this is the *only* main road leading out of Shortlands: closing it, digging down, and embedding rails into its surface would effectively cut off every business in town during the works, there being no viable alternative routes for all the traffic that uses it. Diversionary routes are also difficult to find as it’s all residential streets separated by the railway to Bromley South. Furthermore, this is at the bottom of a river valley, with the river itself barely fifty metres away: drainage is very much an issue in such locations as the resulting road level would likely have to be dropped below the river level. You’d need to install pumps to prevent flooding during heavy rains.

    You then need to find a way to get back up the other side of the valley. I’ve lived in both Beckenham and Clermont-Ferrand and have used the latter’s rubber-tyred trams. Although the latter is a much bigger conurbation than the former, both have comparable gradients and I suspect even modern trams would struggle to get up to Market Square during autumn and winter. Running via Hayes and Bromley South, you can take a more zig-zag route if needed, but the gradient up Mason’s Hill is definitely easier overall.

    Of course, all this assumes Bromley Council want trams in their precious town. If they don’t, I’d just have Tramlink take over the Hayes branch in its entirety and run it direct from Beckenham to Lewisham via Catford. Job done. Commuters will groan and whine initially, but then they’ll realise they’ve gained a direct link with East and West Croydon stations, where there are loads of fast services into London, as well as services to other places too.

  77. stimarco says:

    @timbeau: “Surely you could build a tram route from Croydon to Bromley without touching the Bromley North branch? On the contrary, it’s difficult to see how you could make any use of it at all for such a route. ”

    You wouldn’t use it for such a route – services linking Bromley with Croydon would likely loop around Market Square and head right back down the hill to Bromley South and Hayes.

    The Bromley North branch does serve a purpose as part of a radial route into London and the City, but it’s a woefully inefficient piece of infrastructure outside the peaks and it mostly shuttles air from Grove Park to Bromley and back during off-peak hours. Furthermore, it’s almost entirely self-contained as a shuttle service. That means existing passengers *already* have to change trains at Grove Park, so why not remodel the route to serve other destinations as well?

    I agree that merely duplicating existing radial services isn’t an ideal use of infrastructure, although trams are more comparable to buses than heavy rail or metros, but then, I’d build a new tramlink route from Bromley Market Square, calling at Grove Park, before continuing along an *orbital* route to link up with the three Dartford lines. (Ideally, it’d also serve parts of Thamesmead.)

    Trams and buses are all south London can build to improve orbital journeys given that major road widening schemes are simply not an option these days. (Tunnelled roads may be easier to justify in a future of LEV / ZEV technologies, but it’ll be a generation or so before that kind of project can be justified.)

    Radial services are better served by heavier bulk transport systems like heavy rail and urban metros, not trams, but there is some justification for a tram running up the A21: trams have a lot more stops, and the Catford Loop line doesn’t serve Bromley North: it serves Bromley South, which is at the wrong end of Bromley for shoppers.

  78. Graham Feakins says:

    @ stimarco: Thanks for your further comments. You say that “I just don’t think extending the BJ branch is the right way to achieve it and prefer a route from a junction near New Addington via Hayes instead” and then you say “services linking Bromley with Croydon would likely loop around Market Square and head right back down the hill to Bromley South and Hayes.”

    Not just in my dreams (and Greg Tingey would appreciate this, considering Karlsruhe), a proposal was for the New Addington route of Croydon’s Tramlink to run over and up to Biggin Hill and onwards to Westerham. Now that would be useful. Again, hills no problem.

    To take a branch from e.g. Addington Village towards Hayes and then Bromley South/Market Place/Bromley North would also be feasible but like all these things, one has to remember just how much capacity Tramlink has to cope with the additional patronage and it would be a bit of a dog-leg to connect Croydon with Bromley – the 119 bus is bad enough! The Beckenham Junction end of the tram route is more lightly loaded than the equivalent at New Addington and would be much swifter It would make an excellent connection with Bromley North and help revitalise the branch and that end of Bromley High Street by capturing the traffic from the ‘hinterland’ from Grove Park and so on destined for the Croydon (and even Wimbledon) area.

    I have seen an outline Tramlink plan of Beckenham Junction – Bromley Market Place avoiding to some measure the Shortlands road system and S-bends on the hill. The intention, one day, is for Tramlink to be double-track throughout where at the moment it parallels the railway through Birkbeck (by closing the Crystal Palace – BJ service). By all means extend Tramlink the length of Bromley High Street.

    Trying to allay your concerns about trams, steep hills and sharp curves – in the winter, here’s a link to what is now a recent bit of history (because of renewed infrastructure) of how Stuttgart copes – do please watch through (it’s simply what I found just now – there are many other examples):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywsON6bWg5Y

    Oh, and flat junctions on tramways are far remote from similar in operations on main line railways and this is a Zurich example, where flat junctions abound:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hbw3IiTpv8

    You might even note what I interpret as your “Clermont-Ferrand’s rubber-tyred trams” ( I haven’t checked) – trolleybuses.

    I love your reference to Bromley Council and their “precious town”. That says it all. I won’t be the only one to relate how it was in the 1950′s when I was a very young Croydonian.

  79. stimarco says:

    @Graham Feakin:

    My problem with the flat junctions is their effect on overall line capacity.

    I think it’s safe to assume that a Crystal Palace extension would need to be built before any extension from Beckenham Junction could be taken further: you’d need to dual the entire Birkbeck branch section, which means you’ll need to close the mainline first. And that means you need to provide an alternative method for reaching Crystal Palace station from Beckenham Junction to make up for the lost services.

    That means that one branch out of Croydon via Arena junction will have no less than *three* branches nailed onto it: Elmers End, Crystal Palace, and Bromley (via Beckenham). And there’ll likely be a Crystal Palace – Bromley (via Beckenham) service too. That’s a nightmare situation for a high-capacity, high-frequency service.

    Next, there’s the fact that any route from BJ to Bromley North is going to be almost entirely on-street. That’s very slow: trams have to keep to a much lower speed limit on such sections than when using segregated track.

    So it’s going to be unreliable *and* slow.

    Linking Croydon with Bromley via New Addington and Hayes has two huge advantages: it can be about 90% segregated – there’s no shortage of room – and there’s only one route serving the New Addington arm at present, so you only end up with two branches and two services using the infrastructure, instead of three branches and *four* services using the via-Beckenham option. Thus reliability is much better. (Yes, even if the New Addington branch itself is extended to Biggin Hill: it’s just a continuation of the same line, not a new branch.)

    The journey times are also much more attractive: you don’t need too many stops when big stretches of the route are in open countryside. This isn’t high-density country, but there are enough clusters of suburbia to justify the line: Corkscrew Hill / Coney Hall, Hayes, and Bromley South / Common.

    It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper to build. You wouldn’t need any heroic engineering: just plain track with a few, very short, embedded sections to serve shopping areas. (Though a flyover across the roundabout near New Addington might be a good idea.) This makes it much easier to justify both financially and socially: you can join up a long string of suburbia that has only ever been served by buses and cars, with a decent mass transit alternative. It’d be a huge boost to New Addington itself, which would gain access to another source of employment. And extending the original line out to Biggin Hill only helps the case by giving that area *two* major destinations, instead of just one (rather clogged) one in Croydon.

    Once built, the proposed Bromley-Beckenham extension could be more easily justified as a means of providing a Bromley-Crystal Palace service, which would do wonders for relieving the beleaguered 227 bus route. (Said route has to pass under the bridge at Shortlands, so must run as a single-decker bus.)

    Note that I’m not advocating ridiculously long Tramlink services that run from, (say), Wimbledon, all the way to Abbey Wood via Hayes, Bromley and Bexleyheath. Passengers would expect to have to change, but whereas buses often end up running in convoys due to the nature of road travel, a well-designed tram route can be managed electronically to avoid such problems and keep to a reliable service frequency. This tends to make interchanging more attractive to passengers.

  80. stimarco says:

    Re. the Clermont-Ferrand ‘trams’:

    They’re often described as ‘guided trolleybuses’, but that particular “Translohr” system cannot be run ‘off-track’. (There is another one that can, but I forget where it’s being used.) The vehicles were deliberately designed to look like modern trams, so it’s a bit weird to see just two rails, one either side of the overhead wire supports, (usually a “T”-design, planted in the middle of the right of way.)

    The ride is pretty good, though you can tell it’s on tyres, not steel wheels: it’s a bit too bouncy. (Then again, the technology is still first-generation, so it’s bound to be refined over time.) Where it works very well is on some of the really nasty hills, which make the rolling hills of Kent look like badly worn speed bumps: I’ve seen a fully-loaded tram easily drag itself up a gradient over over 20%. So they didn’t pick that technology just because Clermont-Ferrand also happens to be the birthplace of Michelin tyres. (Although that was part of the reason.)

    Even so, there’s a lot of segregation of the route. It may run on-street through the centre, but it does so mainly through pedestrianised areas and does not share much, if any, of its route with other vehicles. It’s certainly a match for Tramlink in terms of journey times, perceived mode quality, and service reliability. I lived and worked there for four months and it was very popular.

  81. Anonymous says:

    It’s a shame a tram or tram-train scheme couldn’t be extended through the Downham estate. Its extremities are close to Grove Park, Sundridge Park and Bellingham. Planners would probably object as there’s little room for new private apartments to be built among the sprawling low-rise estate of council and privately-owned ex-council semi-detached and terraced houses.

  82. timbeau says:

    At the risk of getting into an argument about semantics, no trolleybus can run “off track”, (unless it has a diesel or battery capability, but when using those it isn’t a trolleybus) since it can only go where the wires go. (Someone should tell TfL that the “trolleybus replacement” route 281 could take a more direct route than it does, since it doesn’t have the same constraints that its predecessor did)

    Trolleybuses were first known as “trackless trams”, but since a guided trolleybus uses a guilde track it isn’t trackless – so it’s a tram!

  83. JamesBass says:

    The “trams on tires” in Caen are a good example of what I think Stimarco is talking about. If there is an obstruction in the road, the vehicle is capable of steering around it (admittedly at very low speed) whilst the electric supply somehow remains attached to the wire. I have no idea what the engineering around this is, but I have seen it happen with my own eyes- at least I think that’s what was happening :S

  84. Sunny Jim says:

    The Caen ‘trams’ can divert off track as they have supplementary diesel engines and a steering wheel in the cab. I think they are driven in this way to and from the depot. However, as far as I understand it, I don’t think they can draw power from the overhead when operating off-track, since they have a fixed pantograph instead of swivelling trolley booms.
    Caen is planning to replace this system with a more conventional tramway by 2018.

  85. Graham Feakins says:

    @ stimarco – With respect, I think that you may be translating the natural adversity of the national railway to flat junctions to tramways/light rail situations, where there are ‘countless’ instances of high-frequency, multiple-routes on tramways utilising flat junctions. Just think what it was like in London Transport tramways days, with frequencies up to two per minute per route. Elephant & Castle complex had some 375+ trams an hour passing through it.

    Back to the present and remember that the flat Tramlink junction at Sandilands happily copes with what are now four routes. To add flat junctions elsewhere and thus additional routes ought to be no great burden.

    I take your point about closing the railway service between Beckenham Junction and Crystal Palace first but I wonder just how unpopular that would be. It only runs every 30 minutes at best. The line (from Bromley Junction to BJ) was closed completely from 1917 until electrification in the 1930′s, there is no Sunday service today and many trains I use (from North Dulwich) to BJ have emptied out leaving just me in my carriage by the time the train departs Crystal Palace for Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction. The railways have long thought of withdrawing that service and I suspect that the plan to bring Platform 7 at Norwood Junction back into use to reverse trains there back north via Crystal Palace is intended to be the substitute for running on to BJ.

    You mention the 227 bus route which runs under the bridge at Shortlands. Come to think of it, it follows that the Croydon trams should also be able to do that also. See here (Jubilee Bridge):

    http://tinyurl.com/b425tm2

    Yes, of course it is ideal for trams to run on their own right of way but they are not going to be “slow” as you say on roads shared with other traffic. They will permitted to run at the set road speed, e.g. 30 mph. and thus (in theory) no slower than the surrounding traffic is meant to be travelling. That applies to all four tram routes along Addiscombe Road in Croydon today.

  86. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Back to the present and remember that the flat Tramlink junction at Sandilands happily copes with what are now four routes. To add flat junctions elsewhere and thus additional routes ought to be no great burden.

    I can confirm that this appears to be the case if one uses the service. What I find quite unsatisfactory and a bit of a concern is the “level” crossing at Woodbury Close immediately to the west of Sandilands tram stop. I didn’t cover this in the article on Tramlink but the increased frequency of service means it is more likely that a tram is waiting for the previous tram to depart from Sandilands. It waits on a steep gradient on the other side of the “level” crossing and has to accelerate, clear the unsignalled crossing and then brake to enter the tram stop which is on a steep (for a tram stop) downward gradient. The sight lines at the crossing are not that good for either motorists or tram drivers.

    Ideally the crossing would be closed and the few houses in Woodbury Close would have a different connection to the main road system but I cannot see how this can be done without a disproportionate number of demolitions. If you could do that you could also take out the “hump” which would have a number of advantages. In reality it is too hard to do and disproportionally expensive for a tram system which is supposed to have the advantage of not involving the heavyweight engineering works that conventional trains require.

  87. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 08:54AM, 11th February 2013

    It might be possible to relocate The Woodbury Close level crossing to the Croydon side of the Sandilands stop, with Woodbury close being connected to Addiscombe Road via Homefield Place.

  88. Greg Tingey says:

    Sitmarco
    Can’t “take over” part of the Hayes branch for trams – have you SEEN the loadings?
    However your proposals re. New Addington via Hayes – Bromley S – Bromley N are much better.

    Mk Townend
    Interesting idea for the “LC”

  89. Graham Feakins says:

    PoP – The situation at Woodbury Close (crossing just east of Sandilands Tramlink stop and a cul-de-sac) was carefully considered during the planning stage of Tramlink. There are, in fact, only about 14 remaining detached houses in Woodbury Close and it was thought therefore, quite rightly in my view, that the vehicular traffic serving those houses would be minimal, thereby not warranting significant expense at the crossing, especially as most users would become familiarised with the tram crossing.

    A couple of the houses on Addiscombe Road backing onto Tramlink where it drops down between Woodbury Close and the tramway junction you will notice are partly ‘boarded up’ to prevent access to the track. They used to have large gardens (and I’ve enjoyed a good party or two in one of them!) but when the residents left, one of them was adopted for a time as the Tramlink Team site offices, knowing that its residential days were over. I’m not sure who occupies those now but I think that they cannot be removed to provide a better sight line at the crossing without a variation in the original agreements.

    I agree that there is a propensity for trams to be held briefly on the gradient close to the junction awaiting clearance of the tram in front at the Sandilands stop but that ought not to happen if the trams are running to time and in any case the Woodbury Close crossing is not blocked. However, I find Sandilands tram stop to be rather more level than you suggest – the downgrade commences immediately after the stop towards East Croydon – see here:

    http://tinyurl.com/a4j3rj9

    (as well of course as the steeper downgrade in the opposite direction towards the junction).

    I suspect the main delays at the tram stop are occasioned by passengers crossing the track to change between the New Addington and Addiscombe/Elmers End/Beckenham Junction routes.

  90. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I am pleased to hear that this was all carefully thought about. The trouble is, of course, they now appear to have permitted a large development behind the flats at Lynden Hyrst which will make the situation worse. And for the record for others I am sure if it were possible to join the new road, Homefield Place, to the main roads by some other means then that would have been a condition of planning approval. The is certainly no obvious means of doing it.

  91. Anonymous says:

    Sandilands Tramlink stop should have been built in a cut and cover tunnel.

  92. But then it would be below ground level and be subject to “section 12″ rules which means it would need to be staffed all the time the tram stop was open. Hideously expensive to run and totally against the ethos of a modern tram system.

  93. Jeanpierre says:

    Meanwhile, back on topic, forget CROYDON Tramlink and the DOCKLANDS Light Railway, I think the only sensible answer to the question of what to do with the Bromley North branch is to join it up to the New Cross stub of the East London Line, period.

    There is plenty of railway land in the area north of New Cross to slew tracks and provide a new dive-under for northbound trains to leave the up local without crossing the fast lines, and what looks like just enough space at the country end of Grove Park to accommodate fly-overs/dive-unders for Bromley North branch trains to leave and join the local lines, again without interfering with through services. I am not an expert, but it is surely not beyond the wit of man to achieve this, and I suggest demolishing the branch platform and seldom used island platform on the fast lines at Grove Park, slewing the fast lines as far west as possible without drastically reducing line speed to make space for the up branch line to lose/gain height as necessary and run into a new 6-car (?) platform, fenced off from the down fast, before joining the up local at the north end of that platform. Down trains could leave the down local at (or before?) the country end of that platform and access the branch via a New Cross Gate-style flyover.

    Many have asked what the point of the New Cross ELL branch is, and indeed why the Bromley North branch has survived in splendid isolation, and with London Overground looking to take over Southeastern Metro services, the above would seem a logical solution, finance, etc., permitting as usual.

  94. Stu says:

    @ Jeanpierre

    I think you may have missed some earlier comments, or on other threads re capacity in the New Cross – Hither Green area. It seems that even if ELL trains could be routed onto the main line, there isn’t space without cutting other services

  95. Jeanpierre says:

    @ Stu

    ….. such as the Charing Cross/Cannon Street – Hayes service, which should become part of the much talked about Bakerloo Line extension from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham, and beyond!

    As usual, it’s all about joined-up thinking.

  96. timbeau says:

    But, as has been discussed by the great Diamond Geezer this week, the Hayes line is already very busy, and would not cope if their nice big 10/12 car Networkers and Electrostars with replaced with little tiny 7-car tube trains (or 5-car class 378s for that matter – or even, as has been suggested, trams!). Also, the Bakerloo Line doesn’t go to the City, and connecting services (the Northern Line at Elephant and , err, that’s about it) certainly wouldn’t be able to take the extra.

  97. Jeanpierre says:

    12 cars on the Hayes branch? Give me a break! Also, I think we can discount the Overground for Hayes.

    The tube could provide greater frequency, and something has got to give in order to revamp commuter rail travel south of the river, but before anybody says anything about the difference in tph between the current Hayes branch service and the ELL, you could have 4tph (ELL) to/from New Cross with alternate trains continuing to/coming from Bromley North, therefore maintaining London Overground’s 4tph on each of it’s core services over the ELL while providing a half-hourly service between Bromley North and the world beyond Grove Park!

    Those trains not proceeding to/coming from Bromley North could use the existing bay at New Cross without interfering with the world between New Cross and ….. the rest of the world!

  98. timbeau says:

    I don’t think the expense, and disruption to commuting habits, of diverting the Hayes branch onto the Bakerloo is a price worth paying just to extend 2tph Overground services beyond New Cross to Bromley North. I’m not even sure how many Bromley North users would benefit from an ELL extension there – most users of the service would be going to central London, so would still need to change for Cannon Street and Charing Cross.

  99. Graham Feakins says:

    Croydon’s Tramlink was discussed by me as a possibility to enhance the potential of the Bromley North branch, not to suggest that trams run over it.

    The Hayes branch was certainly used to 10-car trains and there were 7-8 tph on the Mid-Kent in the peaks between Elmers End and Ladywell back in the 1960′s.

    The suggestion to extend the Bakerloo Line to the Hayes line does not make sense. Extending it to Camberwell and perhaps beyond does.

    I do not understand the blinkered view (by some) that New Cross is simply the end of a branch line. A London Connections map may need to be studied, e.g. here:

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/london-rail-and-tube-services-map.pdf

    As pointed out, the East London Line tunnel stations infrastructure simply cannot cope with longer trains than the 5-car trains at present envisaged. It would be a nonsense even to consider adding the Hayes services to it, even if the Mid-Kent Line services as a whole would be readily accepted as no longer serving Central London, which I very much doubt. The East London Line is hardly useful for the City and West End, which forms the major traffic on the route today.

  100. timbeau says:

    I suspect the problem is not any perception that New Cross is the end of a branch, but rather that beyond it is a very congested stretch to Lewisham, through which nearly all South Eastern services have to be funnelled (the three Dratford routes, the Hayes line and the main line to Orpington and beyond – indeed the only exceptions are the Greenwich line and the services which use the Nunhead loop. Adding extra services through this stretch, such as through services from Bromley North, would have to replace some existing service, unless there was major construction work to add further tracks in a heavily built up area. This limitation likewise affects any potentyial extension of the ELL beyond NX – and most of the traffic from beyond Lewisham wants to go to CX or CS, not the ELL. If they want Docklands, they would use the DLR frpom Lewsiham, not a roundabout route with anothjer change at Canada water

    If Crossrail were to abstract enough traffic from the North Kent route, preferably by running through to dartford, that might just free up enough capacity to let the ELL be extended to Lewisham.

  101. Greg Tingey says:

    Extending ANYTHING beyond New Cross will need another pair of tracks, at the very least as far as Grove Park.
    Where are you going to fit those tracks?
    The Bromey N branch is an ideal candidate for converting to Tram, PROVIDED it is part of a larger newtwork/system.
    Now street-run through Bromley to the S station is a no-brainer … then what?
    WHich route do you pick to join up?
    I’m in favour of outer orbital via Hayes to New Addington …….
    Hayes servives are (usually) 5-car in the slack hours & 10 cars in the peaks & rammed. As mentioned before, tube stock simply will not do for this – far too many bodies to carry.

  102. mr_jrt says:

    I still think that diverting the NX branch to take over the NR line to Dartford and Abbey Wood would be the best way forward. Crossrail will take over Abbey Wood to Dartford, so service will be maintained, abet with a change at Abbey Wood. Doesn’t get you to Lewisham, but frees up capacity on the lines to London Bridge that can then see more services via Bexleyheath and Sidcup, and as I also advocate the Bakerloo taking over the Bexleyheath route to Dartford, in effect, Lewisham becomes just the junction between the lines from Sidcup and Chislehurst, abet with an interchange to the Bakerloo downstairs and the DLR upstairs. That’s an immense simplification of the North Kent routes that shoudl provide for a lot more capacity as it essentially removes all junctions bar the meeting of the line from Sidcup to the line from Chislehurst. :)

    There might even be an argument for diverting some of the services which currently run via Catford to run via Lewisham instead.

  103. Mikey C says:

    mr_jrt

    As per the Bakerloo line to Hayes comments, you can’t replace 10 (soon to be 12) car rush hour trains with 5 car 378s…

  104. Anonymous says:

    Pedant’s Corner

    Sandilands – thinking outside the tram stop (station) box.

    Sandilands tram stop itself does not need to be covered, just the Woodbury Road crossing.

    Cut (level) between the stop and Addiscombe Road and the stop is at Addiscome Road ground level.

    Grade the platform down instead of up and you get the clearance for a bridge, then continue in a cut.

    The biggest benefit would be obviating that hideous climb out of the railway cut.

  105. mr_jrt says:

    @Mikey C
    So you’re telling me that Deptford to Abbey Wood (~8 stations) fills 10 cars all on their own? ..as otherwise it’s irrelevant. Crossrail will be running 10 car trains to Deptford form Abbey Wood in due course (so that section is maintained), and the freed up line capacity on the Sidcup line can be used to run more 10/12 services via Dartford, maintaining service levels on the Sidcup line. Even *if* that level of capacity were required at Deptford, then as there’s capacity for more tph in the ELL core the NX branch’s frequency could go up to 6tph easily, and that maintains the number of carriages as the Deptford line currently only sees 3tph (i.e. 3×10 = 6×5). More frequent, shorter trains also provide a much better passenger experience, and if they do eventually move to 6 cars then you’ll be getting a net increase.

  106. timbeau says:

    Confused now – Crossrail will not be going anywhere near Deptford. Nor could the NX line easily be sent to Dartford (See both your 1138 and 2101 posts) Are you perhaps confusing the two?

  107. mr_jrt says:

    @timbeau

    Apologies. I keep catching myself out with the similar names whilst typing! I of course meant LO to Abbey Wood via Deptford and Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Dartford, yes.

    “So you’re telling me that Deptford to Abbey Wood (~8 stations) fills 10 cars all on their own? ..as otherwise it’s irrelevant. Crossrail will be running 10 car trains to Dartford from Abbey Wood in due course (so that section is maintained), and the freed up line capacity on the Sidcup line can be used to run more 10/12 services via Dartford, maintaining service levels on the Sidcup line. Even *if* that level of capacity were required at Deptford, then as there’s capacity for more tph in the ELL core the NX branch’s frequency could go up to 6tph easily, and that maintains the number of carriages as the Deptford line currently only sees 3tph (i.e. 3×10 = 6×5). More frequent, shorter trains also provide a much better passenger experience, and if they do eventually move to 6 cars then you’ll be getting a net increase.”

    …oh for the ability to edit posts!

  108. StephenC says:

    London Overground replacing all trains via Deptford and Greenwich to Abbey Wood is simply not viable. There are at least 7 trains per peak hour on that route: http://www.opentraintimes.com/location?at=GNW&day=19&month=02&time=0730&to=LBG&year=2013 so, you wouldn’t be providing anywhere near enough capacity. Plus, you’re proposing to replace a short direct journey to central London stations with one that goes around the east end without really getting anywhere people want to go. Its a bad idea, and it would be better to accept it as such.

    By contrast, supplementing the existing service via Greenwich is a feasible and reasonable idea to improve connections and journey opportunities. However, a detailed analysis would show insufficient benefits, especially as it doesn’t relieve the route to London Bridge. So, again its just not worth pursuing.

  109. Greg Tingey says:

    Echoing StephenC for Mr JRT
    PLEASE … I keep telling people how ridiculously high the peak loadings are on all the Dartford loop services + Hayes, & you don’t seem to get the message?
    1000+ people per ten-coach train, is no problem at all, coaches seat approx 80 & at the Peak peak, you can get another 50-60 standing in each coach, certainly for the front 6 or 7……
    If you are counting, you carefully note the coach seating, & just count the standees (if you can!)

  110. mr_jrt says:

    I heard you all before.

    I’m not saying the trains aren’t heavily loaded between Deptford and Abbey Wood – what I’m saying is that are you certain the passengers are joining at the stations Deptford to Abbey Wood and aren’t in fact coming from further down the line. In a grossly simplified example, if 9 cars of passengers join the train at Dartford but only 1 car’s worth joins at Deptford, then having LO provide the service will obviously be fine once that 10 car train is running via Whitechapel.

    The lesser proposal is to only have a branch as far as Charlton (so that’s only ~5 stations: Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park & Charlton). Crossrail then needs to four-track the North Kent line to Dartford to remain segregated, and obviously loop services via Blackheath would have to be provided to maintain service between Charlton to Abbey Wood, abet running via Lewisham rather than Deptford.

    @StephenC
    Guess we should dump the southern branches of LO so the trains can run to London Bridge again then?

  111. Greg Tingey says:

    Mr JRT
    MOST of the trains that I & my associates are counting are either Dartford starters, or Dartford loops trains, running aound the curves at the end of the Dartford lines.
    I am specifically excluding Gravesend/Strood/Rochester/Gillingham originators. Though the Gravesend’s are rammed, as well!

  112. Ned says:

    @mr_jrt: Woolwich Arsenal, Charlton, Westcombe Park, Maze Hill and Greenwich are all busy stations in my experience. Deptford is getting busier as the area becomes more fashonable.

  113. Pedantic of Purley says:

    and the station becomes nicer.

    They wouldn’t have spent a lot of money doing it up/rebuilding it without decent passenger numbers.

  114. James GB says:

    I have always liked the idea of Southeastern’s trains terminating at Abbey Wood and Crossrail 1 taking over Abbey Wood to Dartford. It gives some depressed areas of SE London improved transport links to all sorts of destinations and gives Dartford a more choice of final destination from it’s many trains. I can’t really see why there would have to be parallel SET and CR lines over this section (apart from the last mile or so into Dartford). Maybe somebody can tell me?

    The remaining stub of Dartford to Abbey Wood would be ripe for conversion to a frequent metro style operation, e.g. Bakerloo extension. I have never been convinced of the point of the Blackheath-Charlton service, especially after I used it a couple of times in 2011 and it was poorly used compared to the trains via Deptford, so I would reduce that to a stub or perhaps just a freight branch for Angerstein Wharf.

  115. Anonymous says:

    Greg,

    Do you carry out the annual passenger counts?

  116. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon
    NO
    We are considerably more accurate than whoever makes up the fictional numbers for ORR!

    I work, part-time for a firm that contracts to the TOC’s & other interested parties to do passenger & other surveying work. [ No names, no pack-drill! ]

  117. Jeanpierre says:

    I note that, because of engineering works on Sundays 10 and 17 March, Southeastern are going to operate a service between Victoria and Bromley North via Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Lewisham, Hither Green and Grove Park. Couldn’t do that if the branch was converted to tram, DLR or Bakerloo!

  118. Jeanpierre says:

    Grove Park is going to be busy tomorrow, Sunday 10 March.

    Further to my earlier posting, as well as playing host to a through service between Victoria and Bromley North, it seems the Victoria/Medway Towns/Kent Coast/ Ashford International semi-fasts, re-routed via Nunhead, Lewisham and Chislehurst, will call there, presumably for those who want to alight for/board from the Bromley North service instead of taking the rail replacement bus alternatives.

  119. Tim says:

    At the risk of sounding heretical, what about using the Bromley North branch as a guided busway? there’s room for twin tracks, and it would solve the woefully indadequate (and slow) existing bus link from Bromley to Grove Park at a stroke.

    Of course, the best thing would be one or two morning direct services to London Bridge/Cannon St, but if that genuinely can’t be done on a regular basis, we have to look for alternatives. I can’t see trams coming to Bromley in my lifetime tbh.

    The only other semi-feasible thing would be a DLR extension from Lewisham, but again, can’t see that happening anytime soon.

  120. Gordon says:

    Having been a regular user of the service from Bromley North I can confirm that it is generally well used (packed) in rush hour with passengers moving en-masse to (and from) the mainline service at Grove Park.

    There is another problem to solve however as it is then difficult to get to Canary Wharf without going via London Bridge. As a result many people I know take the bus from Bromley to Lewisham for the DLR.

    I can see that an extension of the DLR between Lewisham and Bromley North would therefore have as passengers:

    1) The existing users from Bromley North who will either remain on the service to Canary Wharf or change for London Bridge etc.
    2) Those currently using the bus to get to Lewisham for the DLR.
    3) Those on the mainline services needing to change for Canary Wharf

    I believe that there is sure to be sufficient demand just between those groups to warrant the extension.

    However has Lewisham allowed for this in their “Gateway” project?

  121. Catford Bridge Spotter says:

    Pedantic of Purley wrote:

    ‘There does not appear to be any provision for a southward extension of the DLR in Lewisham council’s plan for regeneration of the area…’

    This is with doubt true but there is also evidence available today that suggests the opposite. The possibility starting tunnelling work on the south bound extension of the DLR into Lewisham shopping centre is a little closer than Lewisham’s or Boris’s corporate plans might suggest or have you believe.

    A forum post with illustration of the possible location for the next south bound station from Lewisham station – ‘Lewisham Central’ :
    http://www.se23.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=7504&pid=56863#pid56863

    And hot off the local press :
    http://img818.imageshack.us/img818/2871/apgq.jpg

    Could be said Lewisham council’s statements on the DLR extension are a bit like Boris’s bombasts on the Bakerloo Line Extension, only they’re not quite so erudite. The two won’t ever say in public what they intend to do. They would rather keep you guessing. Whilst they do that each continues to hold a property ace or two up their respective sleeves.

    This is one of those uncomfortable moments in British life when Profit, Politics, People and Priorities all come together to form one dirty great unfathomable mess. The mess is most essential as it is the inevitable result of powerful vested interest chasing fabulous returns.

    That’s something Mr Bob Crowe of the RMT had his usual few words about only recently in an edition of the ‘Railway Gazette’. His major concern, and there was just one this time as it must be remembered Bob lives his entire life in perpetual concern about ALL his members daily worries and anxieties, was the tube extension. He said the extension was set to be only a tool for big business. To make lots and lots of money for it’s members. Sorry shareholders.

    Not a fan of Mr Cowes’ – and I do feel it’s important to say that – but his concerns and fears that a private business agenda and profit and not public interest and concern had already hijacked any future public investment in London’s transport infrastructure do now look well founded. Perhaps Bob is a little closer to the action than was at first thought. His comments certainly do suggest as much.

    Moving on. For the little people like you and I schemes like this only ever work out when the fat man sings. Without any further pontificating – I now bid you all adieu. Adieu to you and you and you.

  122. Catfrod Bridge Spotter says:

    The quoted Lewisham ‘master plan’ for the area around Lewisham DLR neither includes any DLR extension proposal but more importantly neither does it exclude any DLR southbound connection proposals. Based on this map one could say exclusion of the southern extension of the DLR is a reason for arguing the extension will not happen. In this post it is argued the evidence or the very lack thereof justifies the exact opposite, that the DLR south extension will happen, and it will happen one day soon.

    Boris’s expoundings on the topic of tube extensions into south east London and beyond coupled with a woeful lack of supporting evidence must galvanise us all to look more closely at the reasons why Lewisham Council chooses to obfuscate the bleeding obvious.

    Here are 5 reasons why the ‘master plan’ published by Lewisham Council in 2012 refuses to inform us of meaningful or accurate planning proposals for a DLR south extension into Catford and subsequently Bromley.

    1. The DLR extension must be tunnelled south as there is no suitable above ground space to lay tracks

    2.The DLR extension must be tunnelled south as ‘tunnelling techniques have moved on’ according to Boris – highlighting the preferred development method and likely route

    3. The map is selective. It chooses not to show sub terra development – excusable in that it could be said such development was not considered relevant in terms of impact to the streets and buildings in this part of Lewisham

    4. Lewisham Council have omitted describing DLR development in their Gateway plan on grounds of ‘economic and commercial confidentiality’ – see other posts on the topic
    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2012/white-knights-and-wishlists-northern-and-bakerloo-line-extensions/#comment-141894

    5. The image used is not a ‘master plan’ for Lewisham but a map of the proposed ‘Lewisham Gateway’ development any DLR south extension will have no direct impact upon Gateway proposals so there is no need to show above or below ground tube infrastructure

    Five good reasons to think of the Lewisham ‘Gateway plan’ less as a definitive road map for tube extension or not but more a general statement of affairs and more strictly a map concerned with the Gateway Lewisham presents, in terms of public transport connectivity, to the rest of London.

    A DLR extension to Catford will not in any way change Lewisham’s ‘connectivity to central London’, therefore there is no need to itemise any proposal. The primary function of the map is describing the relocation of bus parking, routes and future pedestranisation, along with relocating all car traffic from the end of Loampit Vale south into Moleswoth Street and behind the Lewisham Shopping Centre.

    It is without doubt notable this one document, published so late in the day in 2012, so expressly excludes any diagram, statement or verbal reference to a south DLR extension. It is excluded almost as though the very thought of such a thing were inconceivable, impractical, impossible. The degree to which Lewisham Council have omitted any direct reference to any commitment to extend the DLR south is remarkable.

    It is the Gateway plan’s very absence of evidence that alerts us the fact the DLR south extension is a project very near and very dear to the wallets of local businesses and the hearts of Lewisham Councillors.

    The Gateway plan excludes the bleeding obvious but does so only because inclusion of the proposed DLR south extension would invalidate the purpose and description of the original document.

  123. Greg Tingey says:

    Peak-hour loadings are interesting ….
    Over 300 people off a 2-car, inbound!
    And, a small (35-50) person reverse flow, of bodies decamping from southbound trains @ Grove Pk to go to Bromley ….

  124. Anon says:

    Surely the real future of Bromley North is to become Bromley Central and South (expensively)? Otherwise all you get is all you always got?

  125. SztupY says:

    A week ago, the Bromley North train arriving at Grove Park actually showed “Grove Park. Change for DLR”, which was funny. Couldn’t take a picture of it though :(

    What is not that funny is, that the London Bridge upgrade programme doesn’t include anything for the Bromley North line, which is a shame as am peak commuters will now have to decide which train to board (Charing X or Cannon Street) at Grove Park, as they won’t be able to change later at London Bridge. With the current amount of people on the am peak trains it’s common that not anyone can get on the train while changing at Grove Park, which will just get worse once London Bridge gets partially closed.

    I would consider a few options to help commuters, like

    1. Stopping some of the am peak high-speed services from Sevenoaks at Grove Park
    2. Making Bromley South part of Zones 4/5
    3. Allowing rail season ticket holders from Bromley South to use TFL busses between Grove Park-Sundridge Park-Bromley North and Bromley South.

    I don’t think any of this wil happen, so probably the best idea will be to buy a Z1-5 travelcard (which increases commute costs) and go from Bromley South instead

  126. timbeau says:

    I very much doubt they would ever do option 2: I’ve always assumed Bromley North’s Zone 4 status (when its distance from Central London would typically put it in Zone 5) is precisely because it has such a poor service compared with Bromley South.

    “it’s common that not anyone can get on the train while changing at Grove Park, which will just get worse once London Bridge gets partially closed.”
    Not sure why it will get worse – people may have to wait for the right train, rather than getting the first and changing, but as long as CX/CS flows are similar the numbers boarding each train won’t change: those who have waited for the second train will be offset by those who let that train go to wait for the third (having arrived after the first went)

  127. SztupY says:

    I’m sure option 2 will never happen, but it’s always worth dreaming.

    For the Grove Park changing: most of the people are really happy if they can get on the train, even if it’s the wrong one, as they can always switch at London Bridge. This will no longer be an option. Waiting for the next n trains will make longer travelling times, and of course you won’t know whether you’ll have a place on the next 2 trains. (after that the next batch of people will appear from Bromley North, so the cycle starts again)

    At the moment there are usually 3 trains to the centre for each service from Bromley North: one fast to Cannon Street (this is the first one to arrive, so this is the most busy), one slow to Cannon Street, and a third one to Charing Cross. At the second stage of the proposal (when trains to Cannon Street won’t stop at London Bridge) people switching to TFL services have to go to Cannon Street, which is not really a good hub for switching, or wait for the sole train to Charing Cross to have a chance at Waterloo East for switching.

    I don’t really know the destination distribution of current commuters, but from my experience most of the people alight at London Bridge and switch to Jubilee whatever train they take. At the moment they have 3 trains to do this. When the scheme starts they’ll only have 2 trains. At the second stage only one will remain.

  128. ngh says:

    Re SztupY 7 January 2014 at 3:01 PM
    At the second stage of the proposal (when trains to Cannon Street won’t stop at London Bridge) people switching to TFL services have to go to Cannon Street, which is not really a good hub for switching, or wait for the sole train to Charing Cross to have a chance at Waterloo East for switching.

    During (but not at the very start of) what you call the second phase all the Peak Charing Cross trains will start the long term service pattern of calling at London Bridge (currently something like 10-12tph don’t) so Northern / Jubilee interchange can happen there rather than via Waterloo East

  129. SztupY says:

    Re ngh 7 January 2014 at 3:33 PM

    The problem is that from the 10tph to Charing Cross, only 4tph stop at Grove Park, which is just 4/3 trains for every batch of commuters from Bromley North (3tph). So this means, that two coaches full of people have to fit on that one train, as the other two trains that goes into the city will go to Cannon Street, which has a much worse TFL connection than either London Bridge or Waterloo East/Charing Cross.

    If some of the fast trains would stop at Grove Park as well, so there would be like 6tph that stop at Grove Park, that would mean 2 trains to the centre for each train from Bromley North, somethimg more viable.

  130. evergreenadam says:

    @greg

    Crikey, 150 passengers per carriage, must be a squeeze! Worse than loadings arriving in Central London.

    Presumably the branch can take a four car train if rolling stock were available.

  131. Anonymous says:

    They use class 465s in bad weather to reduce the chance of the set breaking down. Otherwise they stick a 466 on the diagram.

  132. Anon5 says:

    I thought the shuttle was the first thing Southeastern cancels in bad weather. ;)

  133. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon 5
    No
    SE & the local chapter of NR cancel everything at the first hint of bad weather … the contrast between the ex-SER & ex-GER lines on 27th Dec 2013 could not have been more stark.

  134. Alan says:

    I recently used the Bromley North branch for the first time and the report on this website provided some interesting background information. But how could the timetable be improved?

    The branch trains now run at 20 minute intervals off peak, with 5 minute journey time and 5 minute turn round times at both Bromley North and Grove Park. These times do not fit in with the four trains per hour off peak between Grove Park and London Bridge.

    But would it be possible to run a 15 minute interval service on the branch? I think it could be done with a 3 minute turn round time at each end – see times below. Alternate trains would omit the stop at Sundridge Park – these trains should be able to achieve a 4 minute journey time. Passengers for Sundridge Park on trains not stopping there could circulate via Bromley North with only a small increase in their journey time.

    Trains from London (off-peak and Saturdays)
    Grove Park arr………… 57, …12, …. 27, …. 42,

    Branch trains
    Grove Park dep………. 00, …..15,….. 30,….45
    Sundridge Park……….. 03, …..n/s,….33,…..n/s
    Bromley North arr…….. 05,……19,…..35,…..49

    Bromley North dep……. 08,….. 22,…..38,…..52
    Sundridge Park ………..n/s,….. 25,…..n/s,….55
    Grove Park arr………….12,…… 27,…..42, ….57

    Trains to London
    Grove Park dep………..15,…..33,…..45,…..03

    To cater for the commuters to London, all trains to Grove Park in the morning peak hours would stop at Sundridge Park, but those to Bromley North would not stop. In the afternoon peak hour only trains to Bromley North would stop at Sundridge Park.

    A small reduction in journey times could be achieved if the permitted line speeds were increased -e.g. from 20 mph to 25 mph on the curve at Grove Park, and from 40 mph to 45 mph onwards to Sundridge Park. Platform 1 at Bromley North could be used instead of platform 2 – this would give a straight route into the platform from the down line, and allow a higher approach speed than the current 15mph restriction. Similarly the route from platform 1 to the up line should allow a higher speed than the 15mph exit speed from the currently used platform 2. An increase of 5mph in permitted line speeds would mean a few seconds off the journey time, thus making a 15 minute interval service more robust.

  135. @Alan,

    An intriguing idea and certainly a 15 minute interval would be much more desirable. For various reasons I don’t think it would happen.

    In particular, I suspect the need for resilience in the event of delays such as the connecting train from London arriving just as the shuttle was due to depart would mean that that there would not be much enthusiasm from the TOC to implement something a 15 minute service.

    If the line were to be under TfL control (unlikely for many years if ever) I would expect that there would be a study made to see if 4tph were feasible and how it could be implemented if it were. But even that may conclude it is just not realistically do-able.

  136. Anonymous says:

    I’ve looked at the upgrade before too, and came to the conclusion that it would be possible, if South Eastern could be bothered. I think everyone with any money is just hoping that someone will turn up with a tram and the problem will go away.

    Given the state of the track, I would say it’s got 10 years left unless some very heavy maintenance is done to it. Last time they tamped through Sundridge Park they proved that there’s no ballast left – just mud. My feeling is that they’ll close the whole lot for a fortnight and renew it end to end.

    Given Alan’s comments above, when the S&C at Bromley North is renewed it would not be done like for like – it would probably involve a short stretch of single track and one trailing, one facing turnout. Cheap, and for the service level, effective, even if it doesn’t allow parallel moves. These could be designed for 30mph easily. I doubt the 15mph Bromley-bound speed will change as the buffers are not up to much and there’s no overrun area really.

    On the plain line, I would expect that it is built as a “build and forget” railway – relatively heavily constructed so shouldn’t need much attention in the future. I would expect welded rail and concrete sleepers. Bromley to Grove Park could be raised to 60mph probably as it’s downhill – I doubt the down direction will see a such a speed increase (or any) given the climb. The bridges and power supply rating would be the determining factors.

    At Grove Park, I would expect that the turnout would be moved to the Bromley North end of the curve (or at least to a flatter radius part of it) out of Grove Park, then the curve smoothed. 30mph should be achievable on the curve without much trouble, if not 40.

    A large part of the duration of my journey is getting over the bridge at Grove Park – it’s just too small for the number of passengers on a morning peak train and you can end up shuffling over. Off peak I can do it in around 60 seconds, but you need triple that to get to platforms 4 & 5 at busier times. I note there is a lot of industrial graffiti at the moment, so think a new bridge with lifts may be on the way. Hopefully it’ll be a fair bit wider but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t.

    As I said at the start though, no-one seems to have the appetite other than TfL (and Kent put paid to them taking the inner services), so I doubt anything will happen for a very long time. Shame.

  137. Anonymous says:

    Or, they could just stick another 466 on the route and have services every 10 minutes – expensive, but very effective.

  138. Jonathan says:

    Upping the frequency would be more useful than making it any other mode. Sorting out the footbridge at grove park would also be useful – the scrum always felt pretty dangerous on a creaky footbridge.

    Until 2011 I used to make a journey to london bridge where I had to be in work by 830am. Invariably the train arrived late at grove park and then if you weren’t positioned at the right doors you could not sprint over the footbridge to get the cannon street stopping at london bridge service. I lived 12 mins walk away from Bromley North/ sundridge park so I tried other options to make my journey more reliable including walking 25 minutes to elmstead woods or get the 269 bus to chislehurst although that meant a zone 1-5 travelcard. The way home was equally bad as southeastern had a policy of not waiting for invariably late running trains from london bridge, so it was a constant game of rolling the dice and refreshing bus apps – do I get off and get the 126/261 bus at grove park, or stay on to chislehurst for the 269 and a wait in the cold or 25 minute walk. Glad I moved house! There must be a lot of latent demand if the service was any good.

  139. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they install OLE systems for the class 375 trains when the 375 pantograph are not used on routes to ashford international, Sevenoaks and many other routes same applies with the class 376 and the Bromley North to grove park line should be dmu only…

  140. timbeau says:

    @anon 0820
    To what purpose? The 375s work fine on dc, and dc is already installed. Quite apart from the cost of installing OHLE (clearances on South Eastern are not enormous and there are several tunnels) dual ac/dc needs complex signal immunisation – which is why it is proposed to covert Bsingstoke/Southampton to ac rather than to have a dual system.

    Where would South Eastern find a dmu from for the Bromley North line? It has none of its own, Southern’s 171s are all spoken for, as are all other types, and new emissions rules mean there are no suitable “off-the-peg” designs – I understand even new 172s would be verboten.

  141. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – Absolutely – and what is the point of creating a new pocket of dmu operation far from any depot, and with a small fleet that would therefore require a disproportionately high quantity of spares? The industry has spent the last fifty years trying to get rid of such islands of firstly, steam, and then, diesel, on very good financial grounds!

  142. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone explain the weird phenomena that I have experianced since I became a regular on the 07:55?

    When we arrive at Grove Park I don’t rush over the bridge as I’m getting the 08:09 Charing X which I won’t get a seat on whatever, I let the people rush to the Cannon Street train. But there are some people who have got on at Sundridge Park and stay on and return (I assume) to Bromley North. What kind of madness is this? Sundridge Park – Bromley North is a 90 second journey but they are taking about 12/13 minutes to do it, which is longer than it takes to walk…

  143. timbeau says:

    Are they the same people every day, or are they perhaps misguided souls who think the train is continuing to Hither Green and beyond?

  144. Scouse exile says:

    I’m sure its the same folk. the first time I noticed I nearly stayed on with them as I was politely waiting for them to get up as I wasn’t in a rush and they never got up!

  145. Anonymous says:

    Could it be an accessibility issue? Do you have to climb stairs from the up platform to the down at Sunbridge Park? If so it might be more pleasant for them to do the round trip down to Bromley North – a terminus without steps if I recall.

  146. timbeau says:

    Good thought, but looking at Sundridge Park on GSV, it seems access from the street is onto the footbridge, and the only access to the platforms is from the footbridge, so it can’t be that.

  147. stimarco says:

    @timbeau:

    How many trains are there on the branch at that time of day?

    If there’s only a single shuttle, it makes no difference whether they get on in the northbound direction as it’ll be the same train coming back again anyway. At least this way they get to sit on a comfortable(-ish) seat out of the weather.

  148. Fandroid says:

    @stimarco. Good point. I have done the same on the Henley branch, with the connivance of the guard.

  149. Milton Clevedon says:

    May I suggest a simple solution, which is also observed on the Hertford East line at Ware ca. 7:23AM.

    Two people board (man and woman), head west towards Hertford East, and return, stopping and continuing beyond Ware, at 7:43, still seated and now heading east thence south. Why? Because they have then grabbed not only those seats but the ones opposite, and their friends have now joined them… QED (in vivo veritas).

    If this were 7:30 PM ish, it might instead be in vino veritas…

  150. Greg Tingey says:

    This has also been happening on the Vic-line in the AM peak, with people getting on @ Blackhorse Rd, to return via WC some minutes later, with a seat …..

  151. timbeau says:

    @Milton C & Greg T

    I understand the principle, and I could understand Sundridge Park passengers for Grove Park circulating via Bromley to get a seat, but are the trains from Grove Park to Bromley North really so busy at that time of the morning (in the counterpeak direction) that you are not going to get a seat at Sundridge Park?

  152. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I wonder if there is a manic rush of school children travelling on the branch which the “mystery returnees” are trying to avoid or at least get a seat rather than battle on to a later train?

  153. Anonymous says:

    @ Jonathan – I shared your experience in the morning and I’ve found a quite convenient solution to avoid the gymkhana at Grove Park and always get a seat on the 7.34am train to Cannon Street. I live at a walking distance from Bromley North but I found it more strategic to get on a 162 or 269 bus to Chistlehurst (takes 7 minutes at that time) and catch the same train a bit earlier there. Then I can see the crowd I used to be part of on the platform at Grove park already comfortably seated in the train.
    For the return journey that’s indeed a gamble when the 7.14pm train arrives late at London Bridge. I’ve noticed that the driver of the shuttle train to Bromley North may wait a bit outside the scheduled departure time (here 7.32pm) if the Sevenoaks-bound train arrives say within 2 minutes past 7.30pm but otherwise you are left with the bus app refresh option and mental calculation to decide whether you should get off at Grove Park and try and catch a 261 or 126 bus to Bromley or wait until Elmstead Wood for a 314 bus or Chistlehurst for the 269 and 162 buses.

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