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 352 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:


    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 . 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:


    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: 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:


    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 –

  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?


    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?
    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:

    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:


    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:

    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:

    (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:


    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

    Back on topic, Bromley North is at

  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?

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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:

    “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:

    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):

    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:

    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):

    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:

    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:

    (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:

    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:


    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? 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:


    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? 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: 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.

    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:


    Do you carry out the annual passenger counts?

  116. Greg Tingey says:

    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’ :

    And hot off the local press :

    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

    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:


    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
    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:


    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.

  154. Lawyerboy says:

    Intriguingly, the Airports Commission’s study on surface access for an Inner Thames Estuary airport (aka Boris Island) mentions the possibility of “opening up the ‘Bromley North Branch Line’ via London Bridge”. The purpose of doing so would be to abstract demand from Bromley South so as to reduce loadings on a Thames Estuary Airport – Waterloo scheme.

    In practice, this is clearly never going to happen, because (i) the Inner Thames Estuary airport scheme is unaffordable (ii) there are no available paths north of Grove Park to run direct Bromley North services to London Bridge (iii) it is difficult to see that there will be enough paths through Bromley South to run the Waterloo-ITE service which provides the reason to do something to the Bromley North branch and (iv) such services would presumably use the old Eurostar flyover at Queenstown Road, but it is that flyover that may need to be demolished to provide sufficient capacity on the Windsor lines for expected future demand.

    But at least somebody is thinking about Bromley North.

  155. Anomnibus says:


    Interim reports don’t provide the full picture. There’s a lot more work to do yet.

    Note its repeated references to an Inner Thames Estuary. There’s a good reason for that.

  156. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anomnibus – do you seriously imagine there is going to be any airport built in the Thames Estuary (inner or outer)? The issues are massive and many are insurmountable despite Mayor Johnson’s “hand waving” dismissive gestures to any criticism of his proposals to built such an airport *and* close Heathrow. It was fascinating watching Mary MacLeod (Tory MP for Brentford and Isleworth) performing a high wire balancing act (on BBC Sunday Politics) of trying to “support” Boris’s airport “plans” while dismissing his desire to close Heathrow (too many of her constituents work at Heathrow). Meanwhile Emily Thornberry (Labour MP for Islington South) had clearly researched her rare birds and mammals that live in the Estuary and reeled off an impressive list of such and their reliance on the habitat that Boris would see destroyed.

    It just isn’t going to happen no matter how cross Daniel Moylan gets – he’s now shouting that there is a “moral” obligation on the Airports Commission to consider Boris Airport. Sorry but what nonsense. It’s sunk and they all know it but refuse to admit it. Meanwhile TfL’s budget is frittered away on promoting this pipe dream.

    I just hope that everyone who “moaned” about Ken Livingstone “wasting” money on planning and designing tram and DLR extensions also remember the money that Mayor Johnson has wasted on the dangleway, estuary airport, electric car charging infrastructure and Ms Lumley’s “lovely” Garden Bridge. I’m tempted to include the cycle hire scheme in the list but I’m feeling generous. 😉

  157. MikeP says:

    @WW – Aren’t Boris Bikes really Ken Bikes, it’s just that

    a) They got launched once Boris was in
    b) “Ken Bikes” isn’t alliterative

    You missed out NBfL and scrapping the Western Congestion Charge Extension in your list of money thrown away, though to be fair they were, unusually, manifesto commitments.

    London has already survived one massive transport-oriented employment change – the shift of sea-borne freight into containers and the huge change in ports that this caused. I concede it led to 20 years of wastelands in the docks, but the LDDC showed that once area-wide strategic leadership is in place, things happen.

  158. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mike P – I’m aware of the history of the cycle hire scheme and that Ken was planning a scheme. Where I struggle with the current concept is the way in which it consumes subsidy, the fact that sponsorship seems to have been a failure on multiple fronts and that it seems to be a mode of choice for tourists and young male City workers riding from terminal stations (initially not part of the scope at all). Not knowing whether Ken would have done it any better makes it hard to exercise a fair judgement. It’s possible that Ken might have had a more “inclusive” scheme but it may well have consumed vast amounts of money to little benefit. Who knows?

    I don’t mind subsidising transport if I can see there are demonstrable gains but I struggle to see why we are throwing good money after bad for a “minority” mode. Worse I can’t see how TfL can get out of the current charging regime and technology lock-in that, for example, prevents the use of Oyster cards. I think Isabel Dedring is quite right to say that the lack of Oyster card acceptance on the scheme means TfL are foregoing a lot of potential usage. It’s clear that the doubling of usage fees after a couple of years dealt a hammer blow to the initial scheme and has possibly damaged take up in the inner London boroughs that have paid handsomely to have the scheme extended. It will be interesting to see what the Mayoral Election in 2016 throws up in terms of ideas for reforming the scheme.

    I hadn’t considered the Western CC zone removal. That was a manifesto commitment and I am not clear quite what the effects of the removal have been. Has the traffic gone bezerk? Is pollution much worse? Are bus services much less reliable than before? Naturally enough no one has done any thorough research as to the effect of the zone removal for fear of getting a “wrong” conclusion. The other area of policy that has the potential to go completely pear shaped is cycling infrastructure / better junctions but there are two years for some substantive delivery to happen so we must reserve judgement.

  159. Graham H says:

    @MikeP – Are you sure that Thamesport is an LDDC scheme?

  160. Ian J says:

    @WW: I hadn’t considered the Western CC zone removal. That was a manifesto commitment

    Just to be pedantic the original Boris manifesto commitment was to consult on the Western CC Zone and abide by the result of the consultation – plenty of wriggle room there if he had chosen to use it.

  161. Melvyn says:

    Given way rider of Boris bike ignored red light and ran through my crossing phase tonight I hope next sponsors bikes will include detection of when a red light has been ignored so a fine can be raised against credit/debit card used to hire bike !

    I was already in a bad mood when my H&C train to Barking suddenly became a Circle Line train on arrival at Liverpool Street tonight !

    As for WEZ Boris on said he would consult on zone in 2008 Mayoral Election but refused to talk about removal as he would then have got questions re lost revenue !

    As for Borisbuses that began with campaign by Andrew Gilligan in Evening Standard but most people thought it would die out if Boris won but they did not realise how incompetent Boris and indeed TFL management for letting it get it wasting hundreds of millions really were !

  162. Southern Heights (Alps explorer) says:

    @Melvyn: Back in the day when I lived in Rotherhithe and used to cycle to Regent St., running a red light was often the safest way of getting across an intersection!

    However I (at least) always did this with due consideration for pedestrians, and would give them right of way at all times.

    Let me put something into the mix here (which has probably already come up before): WTF are there so many white vans on the road in this city? Whenever I see one parked up with the door(s) open it’s mostly empty (90% or so), considering driving ’round town is probably the slowest way of getting around, it seems a complete waste…..

  163. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Southern Heights – put a disused fridge in your front garden and you’ll find that 50% of the white vans are owned by people hunting for scrap. I had no idea this went on until I had a fridge freezer fail and put it outside for pre-arranged collection. I had to stop one bloke nicking it at 0730 and then the door bell rang at 20 minute intervals for 4 hours with people asking to take it away! I learnt something that day.

    More seriously a lot of vans are contractor staff, local businesses and deliveries. To drag us to a transport theme the proposed use of more “click and collect” schemes in station car parks, tube ticket halls or in stations will only exacerbate this trend of more and more vans hawking themselves round London. I read an article earlier today extolling the virtues of LUL turning their stations into “community hubs” by having click and collect lockers / pop up shops / police “drop in” counters in them. I am clearly a very long way behind the current zeitgeist as I thought stations already were a hub in local areas? I have to wonder if all the ramifications of turning tube stations into mini shopping / community centres has really been fully considered. How do you cope with roving LU staff milling around, people queuing at ticket machines, people entering and exiting the station, people collecting shopping for lockers, browing in pop up shops and others trying to chat to the local Sergeant about crime prevention? There’s not an endless amount of space in most stations so how do you stop the place grinding to a complete halt at the busiest times and also ensure you don’t sign leases with tenants and then find that local development plonks another 2,000 passengers at peak times at the station’s doorstep meaning the station becomes inoperable? This isn’t simple stuff given how so many things interact with each other in London and create unexpected consequences.

  164. Ollyver says:

    I’m told that local delivery by cargo bike + trailer is taking off in many cities.
    So the large vans & lorries which makes deliveries from a distribution centre to a shop could be replaced with smaller tailored deliveries. (A single many-to-many delivery system, instead of many one-to-one systems, if that makes sense.)
    However, this would probably require quite a cultural shift for many companies. And I don’t know how much the set of people who drive for a living overlaps with the set of people who are willing to cycle for a living…

  165. Malcolm says:

    I don’t know where these cities are using cargo bike and trailer. I have myself tried out this very combination for my weekly shop; it worked moderately well, but not for the eggs!

  166. Kit Green says:

    More of these on the streets of London?
    In Goma what do you do when you need to deliver several hundred pounds of potatoes, 30 eucalyptus saplings and eight sacks of coal, without motorised transport? For this, and many other problems in the east of war-scarred DR Congo, it’s the tshukudu.

  167. THC says:

    Wow, that’s impressive thread drift. I thought the flurry of recent posts hereabouts meant that the Bakerloo line extension had finally been announced! 😉


  168. Southern Heights (Alps explorer) says:

    @THC: great isn’t?

    I think Bromley North should be left as is for now… Maybe it could be useful as part of project Gordium. Which I’m sure someone must be thinking about….

  169. Milton Clevedon says:

    hopefully not A&E after exploring the Apps (sorry that’s the e-version, I assume)

    Time for a paradigm shift, surely, rename it North Bromley instead. It’ll keep the crayonistas busy and lost, as they look fruitlessly amidst the wonders of Langdon Park and the former Bow Railway Works.

  170. Melvyn says:

    Back to Bromley North (!) perhaps its a toss up between extension of Tramlink from Croydon to Bromley and then via branch to Grove Park or extension of either DLR or Overground from the north ?

  171. Southern Heights says:

    Not sure anything serious is going to happen soon as the locals have just gotten upset about making the station accessible!

  172. Ian Watson says:

    An older proposal, lost in the mists of time when trams last worked down to Grove Park along Downham Way was for Bromley North to become a tram interlink that could have used quite effectively the road down to Bromley South, moving also Catford wise along the quite wide road that leads to Bromley Hill and thus meets up with Downham Way and onwards to Catford, in this respect, with the nature of the roads like Baring Road, Burnt Ash Lane/Hill, Downham Way being very wide, Bromley North could become a tram interchange that could cover the “dead zones” of the back end of Lewisham, Catford and Downham.

    Remember too that nearby to New St Hill, there is quite a smart little shopping area with modern supermarket and shops, Kings Meadow play area.

    Also, without interfering too much with property, an extra single line can be put in between Hither Green and Grove Park, in fact this extra single line could be put all the way up to St Johns flyover as the embankments and permanent ways were quite generous in their set down, St Johns is the bottleneck unless the line crossed over and picked up on the old Blackheath spur at St Johns but considerable amount of that old line are now gone.

  173. Anon says:

    Surprised this thread didn’t get the Bakerloo takeover proposal from this summer.

    See the Bakerloo extension thread, and the London 2050 Transport Report for more details.

    Basically new tracks from Beckenham Junction to Bromley North via Shortlands, Bakerloo branch from New Beckenham to Grove Park via Bromley. And yes, the U-shape formed does look fairly silly!

  174. timbeau says:

    @Ian W
    “picked up on the old Blackheath spur at St Johns but considerable amount of that old line are now gone”

    Not sure what you mean here – do you mean the LCDR’s Greenwich Park branch which passed under Blackheath Hill? That line is long gone, and the cutting has been filled in and built over. (In the other direction it remains in use as the Nunhead – Lewisham spur)

  175. Southern Heights says:

    @Ian W, timbeau: there is plenty of room in the Hither Green depot area, however, the rest? I really don’t think so. I pass through there every day, twice…

  176. timbeau says:

    “And yes, the U-shape formed does look fairly silly!”

    Quiet a few existing tube lines make strange U or C shapes, notably the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria. And look at the shape of the Bakerloo between Baker Street and Warwick Avenue on a proper map!

  177. Anonymous says:

    The reason it is not heavily used – it isn’t rocket science – is the poor connection at grove park (times do not marry up at all) and/or the absence of a through train. Work out how to fit in a direct service and lots more would use this, especially with all the redevelopment. People prefer and favour trains from BMS because trains from Bromley South to Victoria AND a tube back the other way are quicker! SE’s brain cells are out looking for one another.

  178. Southern Heights says:

    @Anonymous: There are good reasons for running it as a shuttle. Please read the comments above and you’ll see why…

  179. Ian W says:

    Actually under the tarmac of the down ramp from the bus station at Grove Park is still the old filled in tram line but ol’ Boris has plans for that shed and its called housing…

    As a kid, I remember asking about why there was overhead wire poles right up to the Bromley/Lewisham border, of the same period as those along Downham way but no one seemed to know why.

    The platform 3 crossover to the branch at Grove Park was always troublesome and drivers would report “skidding” on that point set, a kind of cringeworthy sound made as the rerailer sets the wheel back on the rail.

    I do remember the weekend they started stopping trains at Lewisham from Grove Park, surprisingly that extra stop wasn’t always on the route and my father who was a London Bridge signalman on that side of the box said it caused immense scheduling nightmares hence why it was weekends only at first and the traffic from GP to Lewisham has always been less than moderate and didn’t open wide the expected revenue simply as the buses from Grove Park went to the places people wanted to go, whether Catford, Lewisham High St or Lee so if the railways simply ceased traffic to Lewisham say in the peak times, it would lessen the already crowded lines there anyway and allow a more dedicated peak service from the branch with windows for the through trains that people want.

    Alternatively, platform 2 was never used unless I was late for work and a fast Hastings would find itself at a red conveniently after a call to ones father and platform 3 infrequently as the southbound to Orpington traffic always went down on 5 and up on 4. Passengers were so remote that Eric or Ken who worked there never unlocked the toilets or the waiting room on 2/3.

    Trouble is, like so many prime rail sites, the developers have their beady eyes on a lot of land that isn’t theirs, the site alone of Bromley North would be worth billions in development and all that trackbed down to Kings Meadow would be prime prime housing land, their view is there is already a station to London and plenty of buses too, people say it would never happen but once upon a time, the old heathland between the line and Sundridge Park golf course was protected, then came some tennis courts and now its all gone and I heard they want to snick off the little triangle of park between the two lines at Chinbrook Meadows for housing now.

  180. timbeau says:

    @Ian W
    “As a kid, I remember asking about why there was overhead wire poles right up to the Bromley/Lewisham border, of the same period as those along Downham way but no one seemed to know why.”

    The border was the boundary between the counties of London and Kent. Before London Transport brought them altogether, LCC trams had standardised on conduit collection, where most other operators in the home counties (in this case I think South Metropolitan Electric Tramways rather than a municpal) used overhead wires.

  181. Graham Feakins says:

    @Ian W – To add to timbeau’s reply, the whole of the Downham tram route lay within the LCC boundary. I wonder whether what you thought were overhead wire poles were, in fact, the very common occurrence of poles opposite one another in just the same way as tramway overhead wire poles, but supported the centrally-suspended gas lamps. I have definite photographic evidence of them at Rushey Green, Catford and at Lewisham Town Hall, for example.

    An example (albeit in Greenwich) is here:

  182. Chris J says:

    @IanW et al. The LCC’s intention was to further extend the Downham – Grove Park tram line (54) down Burnt Ash Lane and along the South Circular to connect up with the Westhorne Avenue route (72) in Eltham, which opened around the same time (1929-31, IIRC). This would provide an outer orbital connection between the Catford/Lewisham and Lee Green/Eltham routes, and I think the aim was to link the new Downham housing estate with ’employment opportunities’ in Eltham and Woolwich.

    I believe the LCC had already obtained the powers before the tramways were subsumed into London Transport in July 1933, and were about to start work – which may be why the overhead poles had already been installed on some of the route. As history turned out, the LPTB was dominated by the former Combine interests, which had an anti-tram policy, so the extension was cancelled in favour of phased abandonment, which in the case of the Grove Park route was delayed for a decade by the war.

  183. Graham H says:

    @Chris J -the first section of the Westhorne Avenue route was completed in 1932, but as early as March 1933, the LCC was advising that because of the LPTB Bill, nothing would be done by them about the remainder of the route, and as early as September, TE Thomas was notifying the LCC that the road would be covered by trolleybuses – later amended to refer also to motorbuses. The trameay powers then lapsed. It’s most unlikely that either the LCC and certainly not LPTB, spent any money on poles at this stage.

  184. timbeau says:

    I stand corrected – I had assumed the LCC/Kent boundary became the Lewisham/Bromley one.

    “the former Combine interests, which had an anti-tram policy, ”
    The Combine had already started replacing trams with trolleybuses by 1933, but there was no definite plan at that time to go the whole hog – hence the new “Feltham” tram design. However, very early in LT days it was decided to convert everything to trolleybus – and indeed LT did not build a single new tram – even at the end nineteen years later every one of its trams had been inherited from the LCC, other municipals and private companies like LUT and the MET. The job was completed in 1952, with the trolleybuses only lasting another ten years.
    Most trolleybus routes were simple conversions of the tram routes, with very little extension of the system except where necessary to allow them to turn round.

  185. James Bunting says:


    I am a bit confused by your reference to tram lines and Grove Park Bus Station. The tramway terminated in the middle of the road at the end of Downham Way. The OS 1:1250 map of the area, accessible from the National Library of Scotland’s excellent website and dating from the late 1940s, clearly shows this. The Bus Station was built around the corner in Baring Road, on what appears to be allotment land, as part of the Tram Replacement Programme. It is a small open site, all built at street level. The only building is the former canteen which has remained locked and out of use since privatisation. There is nowhere to build housing, especially as it is a working bus terminus.

    @ Timbeau
    The same map shows the London/Kent County boundary, coterminous with the Lewisham Metropolitan/Bromley Municipal Borough boundary as being at the south end of Bromley Hill (the top) between Avondale Road and Kings Avenue. The current boundary has moved slightly to the north of Avondale Road, then along the middle of Bromley Hill northwards for about 150 meters before branching westwards. I assume that this changed with the creation of the GLC in 1965 but cannot find any immediate detail about it.

  186. Anonymous says:

    I just noticed that trains are running direct from Bromley North to London Charing Cross, London Bridge and Cannon Street this Saturday May 30th. Is it a test from Southeastern or are they making this service permanent on Saturdays?

  187. Anonymous,

    Don’t get excited. A quick look at the National Rail website shows that the line is closed between Grove Park and Petts Wood for Engineering work so the Charing Cross – Orpington trains are diverted to Bromley North and, obviously the shuttle has been cancelled.

    Not sure what happened today but next week both the Charing Cross – Orpington and Cannon St – Sevenoaks trains are diverted. Note that both platforms will be in use at Bromley North as trains alternate between platforms – rare indeed.

  188. Southern Heights says:

    @PoP: The point motor will probably fail…. 😉

  189. Anonymously says:

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this article for a while, so here goes…..

    As we all know, Bromley Council aren’t too keen on a Bakerloo line takeover of the Hayes line. In their official response to the consultation (reported by the News Shopper), they reiterated their preference for a DLR/LO extension using the Bromley North branch. They did though state an interest in the spur from Beckenham Junction being extended underground into Bromley Town, as long as mainline trains could still share the Hayes branch (let’s not go any further into deconstructing why this is a ridiculous suggestion, at least not in this thread!).

    As I’ve said in the Bakerloo line thread, the Bromley councillors don’t seem to know or understand why DLR/LO to Bromley North is probably unviable, for all of the reasons mentioned above. I have seriously considered writing to the council leader, with a reference to this webpage, in order to ‘educate’ him and his colleagues about this, but lack of time (and a reluctance to get LR involved in local politics without permission!) has so far stopped me.

    One thing has struck me though (and I did actually suggest this in my response to the TfL consultation)…..if for whatever reason a takeover of the Hayes branch doesn’t happen, would the Bromley North branch be a suitable candidate south of Lewisham for takeover by the Bakerloo? Of course you wouldn’t release any extra capacity on the main line by doing this, but I strongly suspect this proposal might be easier to sell to Bromley council if they remain firmly set against ‘Haykerloo’. There would also be less scope for financial contributions along this part of the route from property developers, and would require extra tunnelling to reach Grove Park (perhaps with an intermediate station at Lee Green). Passengers would though finally get a direct service into town (albeit the West End), with accompanying improved interchanges at Grove Park/Lewisham/E&C if they want the City or Docklands.

    I suppose at the end of the day what I really wish for is for the tube to reach Bromley Borough in some shape or form….whether that is using the Hayes branch or Bromley North branch doesn’t really matter to me, as long as it gets there!

  190. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I suppose at the end of the day what I really wish for is for the tube to reach Bromley Borough in some shape or form….

    But why? What can the tube deliver that SouthEastern (or its successors) potentially can’t? Surely any appropriate investment should be directed at the most beneficial solution? The Bromley North branch is subject to the same arguments as other potential Bakerloo line extensions. If it fills the trains up and prevents others boarding further as the train gets nearer London then what is the point? Conversely, if it doesn’t can it really be seen to be worthwhile doing it?

    Would a tube extension be necessarily better than doing what it takes to get the London Overground extended from New Cross to Bromley North? This may involve some tunnelling but may have the advantage of having some track that can be shared with SouthEastern trains. If London Overground goes to 6tph on all branches from the early 2020s and introduces 6-car trains shortly thereafter then should this not also be a consideration?

    It is back to the same old questions. What issue are you trying to resolve? Would this be the best solution? And I would add, is there a danger of going for a solution now when it may jeopardise a far better solution that may come along in future?

    Looking at it another way, if there is no willingness to provide at least 15 minute service now with good connections at Grove Park then how can we justify a complete tube extension?

    In the not too distant future, TfL wants to achieve their objective of getting 6pth off-peak run on high-usage routes south of the river and this would probably include Charing Cross/Cannon St – Orpington. If there really is any potential demand along the Bromley North Branch then 6tph could relatively cheaply be achieved by an extra 2-car unit (maybe 4-car in the peak) and employing extra drivers to cover the one extra driver at any given time needed to provide this service. This could probably be achieved in far shorter timescale. It would also give significant benefits assuming that there was any real demand for the service and it would show whether there really was any potential in including the Bromley North branch in some future bigger scheme.

  191. Ian Sergeant says:


    If London Overground goes to 6tph on all branches from the early 2020s and introduces 6-car trains shortly thereafter then should this not also be a consideration?

    At the risk of going slightly off-topic, are 6-car trains a serious aspiration? This would mean a lot of work between Surray Quays and Whitechapel if so.

  192. Ian Sergeant,

    Well according to the 2050 Transport Supporting Paper it is. Admittedly it has a date of 2029 so not quite “shortly thereafter” but it does say “£300 million including platform extensions”. I have heard earlier dates suggested and with the population rise and other projects having been brought forward to cater for this I do not think it implausible it will happen earlier.

    What significant work would be involved at Whitechapel? I would have thought it would be absolutely minimal. The current stairs which result in SDO at present are only temporary and will be gone by the time Crossrail trains call there.

  193. Ian Sergeant says:


    Hard to know what is behind the hoardings at Whitechapel, but I’ll take your word for it. We’ve discussed the issues at Canada Water, Wapping and Rotherhithe before, and this needs a lot more than platform extensions, even if there is a £300m budget (I know a lot of that goes on extra cars). I can’t see how this can be done without a protracted blockade, and then what happens when people want 8-car trains?

  194. Ian Sergeant,

    I don’t know the answers. I can only point you to official TfL/Mayoral pronouncements on the subject. Time to move on.

  195. Anomnibus says:


    ” If it fills the trains up and prevents others boarding further as the train gets nearer London then what is the point?”

    That argument boils down to: “We can’t build it because it would be too popular!” Which is a peculiarly British application of illogic when it comes to building anything of consequence, not just infrastructure.

    That said, given the low population density of this area, I’m not convinced that would happen. Chances are that Lewisham would be the key issue, not Bromley. (In any case, opening a Tube line to Bromley won’t remove the South Eastern and Chatham main lines that already serve the borough. This is additional capacity. It’s not as if the Bromley North branch is flooded by passengers at the moment. 2-4 tph is a long, long way from 24 tph.)

  196. Well Anomnibus it seems perfectly logical to me. No point in rebuilding something that was already used so that now Y can use it but not X, as previously. As a Briton I not regard this as being perceptive not as being illogical.

    Extending a service from Elephant & Castle to Bromley North does not create additional capacity except locally. It doesn’t mean that more trains (tube or on National Rail) will go to central London – just the same trains will start from further out. We are back to the argument about is there any point in extending the Bakerloo beyond Lewisham – discussed many times and a repeat performance is not needed.

    I agree that I really can’t see Bromley North being in the 24tph league. To my mind the most one can reasonably expect is enhanced turn up & go – 6tph. The frequency would be primarily determined by the minimum acceptable desirable frequency not the number of passengers using it. The fact that you could probably run 6tph for only marginally higher cost than 4tph is a factor here. A decent shuttle service and lifts at Grove Park to make interchange easier is the most one could reasonably initially expect.

  197. Ian Sergeant says:


    Given funding challenges, and given that any Bakerloo extension will already have absorbed its excess capacity south of Waterloo by extending to Lewisham, I can’t see how the Bakerloo can go to either Bromley North or Hayes. As PoP said earlier, an overground extension could work – it creates realistic opportunities for people to live in Bromley Town and work in Canary Wharf. That is currently a two change journey with a 3tph service to/from Bromley North, hardly attractive for commuters.

  198. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Bromley North to Grove Park would make for lovely preserved railway in weekends with a shuttle service during the week, if only they hadn’t built those houses where you’d have to put the reversing loop….

    Damned short sighted!

  199. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP 0947 – surely part of the response to your “but why?” is one of perception. Yes people moan about tube strikes and overcrowding but the Tube is perceived as being a quick and very high frequency service that runs every day bar one from early morning to late at night. It’s part and parcel of a dynamic capital city and is seen as being essential to its success. It isn’t perceived as being run as a capitalist money grabbing machine but still as a public service. With the best will in the world South Eastern is seen as being dire, backwards, unhelpful, expensive, uncaring and definitely not interested in London at all. Why would anyone want to support South Eastern’s suburban services in the same way as people support, even love, the Tube? Has anyone posting on this blog ever said anything like “I really love South Eastern’s trains” – nope! Do we have people drooling over the prospects of new tube trains, new tube lines and even having the 72 stock reach its 65th birthday – yep!

    I don’t disagree at all with the stark logic that you, and the Treasury number crunchers, apply to the basic issue. However that is all rather irrelevant to people who live in Bromley who are fed up with infrequent, “useless” train services (when compared to the tube). They want something better and their perception, having had Boris dangle a Bakerloo shaped carrot in front of them, is that that equals the Tube. Anyway I don’t think the poor souls in Bromley will see the tube, DLR or Overground ever reach the centre of their Borough because local politics vs the respective business cases will make it all fail anyway. They’re just going to put up with what they’ve got now. Sorry.

  200. Anonymously says:


    “Would a tube extension be necessarily better than doing what it takes to get the London Overground extended from New Cross to Bromley North?”

    I don’t understand your argument here, since it contradicts what you say in your own article above!!!!! In quote, to respond to your point:

    ‘It therefore seems that no more peak period trains can be run between Hither Green and New Cross……One just cannot see [Network Rail] 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…….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.’

    “What can the tube deliver that SouthEastern (or its successors) potentially can’t?”

    The best way of answering this is to quote from Tim’s post on the Fleet Line page:

    ‘(disclaimer: a pissed off commuter stranded halfway between Ravensbourne and Bromley North stations, desperately wishing for an adequate service to London Bridge, along with the rest of the area!)’

    Granted, the Bakerloo line wouldn’t take you to London Bridge, but it would take you to plenty of places with a one stop interchange to there (at E&C, or Grove Park/Lewisham if you really wanted). It would also have two major new benefits that you barely acknowledge: direct trains to Central London *on an alternative, non-National Rail route* (people really do hate SouthEastern that much!); and a more frequent, true turn-up-and-go service. You may not be able to imagine 24 tph on the current branch any more than one could have imagined 8 tph on the Wimbledon to Croydon line in the early 90s. And look what happened there once a better service was provided!

    I strongly suspect the Bromley North branch has a lot of suppressed demand around it due to people who don’t use it due to the lack of a through service. Increasing the frequency of the shuttle (assuming you could get that through the bureaucratic nightmare of today’s railway franchising process) therefore might not work, unless it is a through service. As for traffic levels, I doubt that the traffic levels would prevent boarding at Lewisham or other stations further north (three or four extra stations at most, compared to 10 with a Hayes line takeover), especially since quite a few will change at Lewisham to get to the Docklands. Besides, the consultation mentioned that not all trains are currently planned to go past Lewisham.

    In summary then, to answer your question, “What problem[s] are you trying to solve?”

    – The Bromley North is an under-utilised transport asset, with a lot of suppressed demand due to the lack of a frequent through service.
    – Extending DLR/LO/Tramlink to use it are not viable, for the reasons explained in your article.
    – There is now a firm proposal to extend the Bakerloo line at least to Lewisham, and possibly beyond. But extending it to Hayes may end up as too politically tricky, whatever it’s other major benefits (let’s not rehearse the arguments again in this thread).
    -Terminating all trains at Lewisham in a subterranean terminus may create other issues (i.e. where do you put the extra depot or train stabling sidings?).
    – Grove Park is about 3 miles south of Lewisham as the crow flies.
    – Planning issues aside, there is space along the line for a depot and/or sidings (either next to Bromley North station itself, or between Grove Park and Sundridge Park).
    – It might be easier to get Bromley Council on board with a Bakerloo takeover to Bromley North instead of to Hayes, as long as someone patiently explains to them the difficulties of a DLR/LO extension.

    Extending the Bakerloo line to Bromley North (with perhaps one intermediate tube station) would therefore seem to solve quite a few problems! I will put my crayons away now….

  201. Anonymously says:

    @WW….. :(.

    To quote a certain POTUS….YES WE CAN! It just needs belief and leadership (quantities in short supply in this day and age, I admit).

  202. Anonymously says:

    To clarify, I meant one intermediate tube station between Lewisham and Grove Park (i.e. at Lee Green).

  203. Anonymous says:

    Some interesting notions here about public perception and its influence on the political mind. When I saw Tim’s post about waiting for a decent service I knew exactly what he meant. I seem to remember a debate on here a while back about how it didn’t matter that a 4tph split between Charing Cross and Cannon Street (effectively giving only a 2tph service) didn’t matter, as on the return from town if one missed the train one could take the first train to London Bridge and change for the train originating at the other terminus. Sounds great in theory, but the reality is that unless you can time it perfectly, you’re just faced with an incredibly irritating half hour wait while your lucky counterpart living near a tube line is probably nearly home. Public perception of a Bakerloo extension will be positive (unless you’re a City worker who only ever uses public transport to get to and from your office). If none of the promised extensions reach SE shores public perception will likely be, well the Fleet/Jubilee line was diverted east, we endured London Bridge being rebuilt and the Catford Loop STILL only gets 2tph (while they speak of trams in Sutton and Crossrail 2 in Wimbledon) and Crossrail largely misses us, here we go again, we know we’re second class citizens in City Hall.

  204. Anonymously,

    We have seen demand severely underestimated but it would take an enormous leap of faith to convert the Bromley North branch into a tube line with a frequent service. I reiterate that to genuinely provide new capacity to London it would have to be a complete new line not just tacked onto the Bakerloo. As with Wimbledon – Croydon I would suggest that you need to build these things up to convince those holding the purse strings that the demand really is there. Lets not get deluded by this idea that run a TfL service and the punters will always come. I haven’t heard any reports of people flocking to the Romford-Upminster branch and the Euston-Watford Junction Line seems to have relatively unchanged passenger numbers despite being run by TfL. There are parts of the Central line that are really quiet etc, etc.

    Both you and Walthamstow Writer emphasise the loathing of TOCs in general and SouthEastern in particular. I thought SouthEastern was basically on a management contract so ultimately you are saying you want it TfL run not DfT run. Surely it is easier to achieve that by TfL taking over the relevant lines and running London Overground services?

    My logic is not unsound. I am not claiming that either a tube extension or a London Overground extension is viable. What I am saying is that a tube extension (with its extensive and expensive tunnelling) is almost certainly going to be less viable than a London Overground extension if the sole objective is to have Bromley North as a destination. Of course if you can justify a tube on other grounds to serve Hither Green, for example, then that would be different.

    Since the article was written confidence in getting improved capacity (e.g. by using ERTMS signalling) has risen and it may actually be possible to fit in the extra trains. I am not convinced but know there are those within TfL who thought they could devise a viable scheme to get London Overground from New Cross to Bromley North (but not via Lewisham). I have yet to hear of anyone inTfL who seriously thinks there is a viable scheme to terminate tube services at Bromley North.

  205. James Bunting says:

    Anonymously @ 0019

    “I strongly suspect the Bromley North branch has a lot of suppressed demand around it due to people who don’t use it due to the lack of a through service. Increasing the frequency of the shuttle (assuming you could get that through the bureaucratic nightmare of today’s railway franchising process) therefore might not work, unless it is a through service.”

    Until relevantly recently the service from Bromley North was 2 tph for much of the day. Political pressure got this increased to 3tph as it was still possible to use just one train. However, the connecting services at Grove Park are 4tph (2tph each to Charing Cross and Cannon Street) and so this does not fit together well. Matching up the frequencies might help. However,employing an extra train and crew to take it up to 4tph would add considerable extra cost that is unlikely to be matched by increased demand for much of the day. I would agree that a service continuing beyond Grove Park is likely to stimulate more traffic.

  206. Pedantic of Purley says:

    James Bunting,

    So the best first stage would be to increase the off-peak service on the Charing Cross/Cannon St-Orpington line to 6tph. This would then mean that the 3tph on the branch would actually connect with trains which would make a difference. Best of all this can be done without actually incurring costs that would be assigned to the branch.

    Personally I would then try and improve the ambiance at Grove Park making it a more pleasant place to change.

  207. Greg Tingey says:

    The real problem with the Bromley N branch is political – Bromley council, in fact.
    The “obvious” answer is trams, running along Bromley High St to & past Bromley S station – where, beyond that, I don’t know.
    There are serious problems about joining up towards Beckenham Jn, I know, the topgraphy is against it
    N of Grove Park?
    ( Lee – Lewisham? The two Catfords? )

  208. Malcolm says:

    Greg: I think we may be repeating earlier discussions, but it seems to me that an approach of “now where else could a Bromley – Grove Park tram go?” is not helpful here. There are places all over London where a tram line might suit, but they cannot all be afforded, so we should surely start with the ones where rather more of the difficulties (local demand, council attitudes, depot provision, existing travel patterns, etc) are a bit closer to being overcome.

    What is more, as we have seen with Haykerloo proposals and elsewhere, proposals which are perceived as “messing up my commute” do not go down well. The rail lines which succumbed to Tramlink had, I think, next to no commuters to central London.

  209. timbeau says:

    That would surely be a case of the tail wagging the dog. And 6tph on the main doesn’t fit in very tidily, do you have 3tph to each terminus, which doesn’t fit tidily with the 2tph (or 4tph) to other SE destinations, or have an asymmetric pattern with 2tph to one terminus and four to the other (alternating between 10 and 20 minute intervals).

    (I note by the way that the up services from Grove Park are not even-interval anyway – being at 03, 15, 33, 45. I don’t know whether this makes arranging connections easier or harder overall)

  210. Why is the real problem with the Bromley North branch political? Bromley want a better service. I strongly suspect TfL want a better service. How would that change if hell froze over and Bromley Council was Labour run?

    I can’t see why trams are the obvious answer. I would have thought a far from obvious answer and I really can’t see the benefit. As pointed out in the article there is only one obvious place to add a tramstop on the route. I also cannot see Bromley Council agreeing to trams down the pedestrianised High St. Croydon does not allow it down its main shopping street and that would appear to have all-party consensus.

    I also suspect getting a tram from Bromley North station to the High Street would also be contentious having recently revamped East Street.

  211. ngh says:

    Re PoP, James Bunting & Anonymously,

    If the Bakerloo to Hayes proposal goes ahead that theoretically releases 6tph (peak, currently 4 Charing Cross and 2 Cannon Street) based on the limit being terminus capacity*. Split those 6 extra TPH between the 3 via or bypassing Lewisham suburban branches and you get 2 extra tph for Grove Park immediately.

    *ATO should be able to increase capacity at Cannon Street but won’t do anything for Charing Cross but more into CST might require additional infrastructure works or further service simplification (beyond anything in the Jan 2018 timetable) which causes potential issues with providing a service to Lewisham. Which is when extending the overground if CR3 looks to far on the horizon might make sense. (Makes more sense if the ELL is resignalled for higher capacity and/or the train lengths become longer as that could push the BCR higher).

  212. timbeau,

    6tph to Orpington would all be part of a revamp of the suburban SouthEastern area and 6tph off-peak service pattern in general. I am not suggesting it is done to improve the Bromley North branch. I am suggesting that this is what TfL is looking at for the long term and serendipitously it would improve the Bromley North branch.

  213. quinlet says:

    Of course the good burgers of Bromley will most easily get a LO service to Bromley North if TfL takes control of the inner SouthEastern franchise, as it is eagerly pressing to do. That would make the stopping services to Orpington/Sevenoaks and the Bromley North shuttle LO services. Would that satisfy anyone?

  214. Malcolm says:

    quinlet: Yes, TfL is pressing for some sort of control of inner SouthEastern trains. But just what form that control takes is very much “subject to negotiation”. And even if they can, TfL may not automatically apply the Overground brand to all (or any) of the lines. Experience elsewhere has already shown that the brand is a little fragile, and TfL have already shown sensitivity to such questions by not (yet) branding the Shenfield services as “Crossrail”.

    Shakespeare also had something to say about the branding of roses…

  215. Graham H says:

    @quinlet – as an aside, last time I spelled burgers without the h, some illinformed pedant rebuked me – ignore them if it happens this time; OED is perfectly happy with, or without…

  216. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Quinlet – I doubt “Overground sticky labels” would satisfy Bromley Council. Their objective is a line to Docklands – presumably by extending the Overground’s New Cross terminators. We know the complex issues associated with achieving that. We also know Bromley see themselves as part of Kent and that KCC are “content” with South Eastern as the train company in their county. Perception is important when it comes to politicians and their ambitions.

  217. ngh says:

    Re WW,

    Some of the Kent local councils (especially along the Disgusted of TW corridor) apparently aren’t happy with SE and have been in discussion with those inside the mayors boundaries recently…

  218. Anomnibus says:

    Part of me feels the ‘best’ medium-term option for the Bromley North branch is to convert it into a people mover.

    If the good burghers of Bromley Town then want to extend it down the hill to Bromley South via the shopping centre, they can do it themselves when they’ve saved up enough cash. Shouldn’t take ’em more than a few weeks.

    @Ian Sargeant:

    “…it creates realistic opportunities for people to live in Bromley Town and work in Canary Wharf.”

    There are already 2 Thameslink services per hour from Bromley South station. Once Crossrail 1 opens, that gets you a one-change link to Canary Wharf and pretty much everywhere else of note in central London.

    People who need better links to Canary Wharf can always just move to somewhere more suitable. Like Abbey Wood. Or Woolwich. Or Lewisham…

  219. Anonymously says:


    “We have seen demand severely underestimated but it would take an enormous leap of faith to convert the Bromley North branch into a tube line with a frequent service.”

    No more so than the leap of faith taken to convert Wimbledon to Croydon into Tramlink, when it would have been easier and perhaps cheaper to leave it untouched.

    “Lets not get deluded by this idea that run a TfL service and the punters will always come.”

    I think you’re missing the point that both myself, WW and many others are trying to make. If it is a new *Tube* line in a built-up area with an inadequate train service, then people will most certainly come (myself included)! Like it or not, the Underground benefits from the perception of being a more frequent, more convenient service than the corresponding National Rail services. Why else would the Piccadilly line be much busier than the nearby Great Northern suburban line, even though it runs directly into Moorgate during the week? The other examples you quote aren’t directly comparable, for differing reasons:
    – Last time I checked, Romford – Upminster was still an infrequent shuttle service.
    – A large proportion of Euston – Watford Junction traffic is swallowed up by the parallel, more frequent Bakerloo line service over the same tracks.
    – The Central line north of Woodford is as quiet as it is because the Green Belt prevented the housing developments that had been planned to accompany the line before the war.

    “I thought SouthEastern was basically on a management contract so ultimately you are saying you want it TfL run not DfT run.”

    I didn’t think that is was (only TSGN), but even so it makes little difference to me. LO takeover would certainly improve services on the Orpington – London line, but I seriously doubt it would significantly improve use of the Bromley North line (here, the analogy with the Romford – Upminster line does become relevant). Even if you managed to increase services to 6 tph, the shorter wait to get the connecting train only works northbound…southbound, if you don’t happen to catch one of the 6 tph that directly connects with your 3 tph to Bromley North, you may still end up waiting around at Grove Park for your train home. And it still leaves the unpleasant interchange at Grove Park.

    “What I am saying is that a tube extension….is almost certainly going to be less viable than a London Overground extension if the sole objective is to have Bromley North as a destination.”

    But it wouldn’t be the sole objective, would it? I mentioned several possible reasons why it might be a good idea. If TfL had never put forward the Bakerloo scheme out for consultation and serious consideration, I’m not sure even I would be advocating a Bakerloo extension solely in order to use the Bromley North branch!

    “I am not convinced but know there are those within TfL who thought they could devise a viable scheme to get London Overground from New Cross to Bromley North (but not via Lewisham).”

    Please do tell us more, if you’re able to….I’m dying to know how TfL think this can be done. I suspect it will only be possible by transferring Hayes services away to the Bakerloo (making redundant all of my earlier comments!), but I could be wrong.

  220. Pedantic of Purley says:


    And I in turn think you are missing the point. Yes, we all know there is a perception that tube is better than those trains that only run above ground and are not run by TfL. Each side could produce examples to back their case. Try, for example, travelling from Amersham to central London or vice versa. I actually make that journey sometimes and chose the two-car diesel over the Metropolitan line every time. Is there really anything that TfL could do to make c2c better than it is? Companies like c2c are off TfL’s radar because, amongst other reasons, they know there would be no benefit to anyone in taking them over. And I don’t believe more people would use c2c if it was run by TfL.

    The problem is this “TfL good, TOCs bad” perception is leading to irrational ideas. How often have I heard it would be good to extend the Bakerloo to Hayes because we would have a better Sunday service/Night tube or some other perceived benefit. The point is you shouldn’t need to change the whole structure including trains, signalling, electrical supply and platform height to achieve things that should be perfectly possible to achieve by other means – and billions of pounds cheaper.

    Unfortunately I don’t know the details of LO to Bromley North. A few years ago I spoke to an engineer on London Rail (which runs the Overground) who said that they have looked at various things and were convinced that extending the London Overground beyond New Cross on Network Rail’s tracks was possible and they had a scheme to do it. I queried this and listed some of the difficulties. He smiled and said they said the same thing when TfL proposed extending the East London Line beyond New Cross Gate. Some of the council documents of Bromley Council I remember seeing suggest they have seen a TfL proposed scheme (which naturally they support) but unfortunately little detail was provided. I remember one of the issues was that it couldn’t go via Lewisham and Bromley’s attitude was they didn’t care about that whereas I am pretty sure Lewisham think this is essential if the extension is to take place – so there will be no joint campaigning by Bromley and Lewisham then.

  221. ngh says:

    Re Anonymously & PoP,

    SE is a shortish term Direct Award franchise extension at the moment which means SE has far less freedom than a medium / longer normal franchise which has many similarities to a management contract.

    Re Anonymously,

    “Please do tell us more, if you’re able to….I’m dying to know how TfL think this can be done. I suspect it will only be possible by transferring Hayes services away to the Bakerloo (making redundant all of my earlier comments!), but I could be wrong.”

    Via the Lewisham bypass route – the big capacity limitation is Lewisham station and Lewisham Crossover Jn on the via Lewisham route so you avoid that! There is capacity on the slow lines SE of StJohns so you just have to worry about that bit between New Cross and St Johns* . If you don’t have any NR Hayes services it is even easier.
    *Producing a viable timetable is another matter 😉

    I think where many would disagree with those in Tfl would be around how you much infrastructure you had to do to get 4 or 6tph LO through the New Cross – St Johns section.

    Re Anomnibus

    I think Bromley are scared other boroughs will get the higher Canary Wharf earners in the future so they will get comparatively less house price inflation in LB Bromley…

  222. Anonymously,

    What probably helps the case is now that all trains through Greenwich go to Cannon St there should be more paths available through New Cross/St Johns. There are currently around 16tph max. Lets assume that you also have 6tph London Overground to Bromley North and 6tph call at St Johns. These probably can’t be the London Overground trains since ideally they should also call at Lewisham. That’s 22tph with six stoppers through St Johns. Probably doable but tight. It would be easier with ERTMS signalling but the problem there is that ERTMS would make it possible for more trains to go to Cannon Street so it could mean that the six paths are not available as signalling won’t help dwell time at St Johns which would be unaltered.

    To disagree slightly with ngh, I don’t think eliminating the 3tph to Hayes – Cannon St especially helps because there is bound to be a better case for a new 12-car train service to Cannon St than a 5 (or 6) car service to Dalston Junction.

    I would suggest what has to be done if you want London Overground to Bromley North is:
    1) devise a suitable junction at New Cross taking into account any roads that run underneath the long viaduct west of New Cross station
    2) abandon any pretence of going via Lewisham
    3) devise a means of getting the trains from the slow tracks south of Hither Green to platform 1 at Grove Park. Ideally you want an additional platform at Grove Park but that might be tricky.
    4) Produce a workable timetable

    I would suggest, in complete agreement with ngh, that the hardest of these is to produce a workable timetable (think Thameslink).

    All this would be a lot easier if St Johns station wasn’t there as each stopping train will use the best part of two train paths. Before anyone jumps up and down and suggests closing St Johns I would point out that the ORR numbers via Wikipedia (I know) for Bromley North are lower than St Johns and even if you add Sundridge Park park figures they are fairly similar (St Johns 0.714m, Bromley North 0.635m , Sundridge Park 0.275m).

  223. Anonymously says:


    Once again, your Chiltern line and c2c examples are not analogous to the situation in SE London. Both are paralleled within Greater London by LU services, meaning that *people have some level of choice as to which service they use*. You yourself give an example of choosing Chiltern over the Metropolitan to travel from Amersham into London. Most of SE London on the other hand is stuck with SouthEastern, and suffers because of it.

    If all the improvements you mention (increased frequency, overnight services etc) could be done at significantly lower cost by other means, it begs the question….why haven’t they happened already? It is because SouthEastern (and ultimately Network Rail and the DfT) have very differing priorities from TfL, which makes these seemingly simple improvements much more difficult to achieve. Even if BR/NSE still existed, I’m not at all sure it would be much different….at the end of the day, they will always wish to prioritise their longer distance services over shorter ones, since that is where they earn most of their money from.

    I think it is unfair to brand a Bakerloo extension into SE London an irrational suggestion when so many of us are making it, any more so than it is to the brand the Heathrow Third Runway advocates as irrational (however much they deserve it!). It is only a sincerely held viewpoint…..I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. If you can somehow demonstrate that the more ‘rational’ suggestions you put forward (which I assume involve TfL/LO takeover of some form) are actually achievable in a reasonable timespan within the present day railway structure, then I’ll happily admit defeat and shut up.

    Returning to Bromley North…..your comments on Bromley council seeing a proposal from TfL to extend LO services there do go some way to explaining why they remain fixated with the idea. Maybe a quid pro quo (TfL says to Bromley: We can get LO to Bromley North if you really want, but only if we can create space on the mainline by moving the Hayes trains onto the Bakerloo line; your call…..) is in the offing? I doubt Lewisham would care very much about LO bypassing them as by then they will have the DLR and Bakerloo line to placate them. Also, after reading today’s TfL document on the Bakerloo consultation, it does appear that they are reluctant to tunnel any further beyond Lewisham, so Bakerloo either terminating there or continuing to Hayes seems like the most likely options at present.

    As for Bromley worried about missing out on higher earners and house price inflation…I’m fairly confident it is not worrying them at all. Bromley will always attract plenty of both…that’s what makes it the borough it is ;).

  224. Pedantic of Purley says:


    It is because SouthEastern (and ultimately Network Rail and the DfT) have very differing priorities from TfL, which makes these seemingly simple improvements much more difficult to achieve.

    But that is my point entirely. Talk of new tube lines etc. is a nonsense way of dealing with the situation. What you need is regime change because the priorities we want are the TfL priorities not the DfT ones. We shouldn’t need to spend billions circumventing the DfT when for far less money we could achieve what people really want (TfL standards of service back by TfL attitudes) by simply putting the services in TfL’s control.

    You don’t even need to get rid of SouthEastern. All you have to do is get them to follow TfL’s bidding not the DfT’s bidding. When the North London Line was awful it was run by various people who are now regarded as some of the better more visionary railwaymen. There was nothing wrong with them or their ability to run a decent service. What was wrong was the paralysing influence of the DfT which in turn made Silverlink take various courses of action. The service on the North London Line has seen an unbelievable improvement but there has been no new tube line or anything really major like that.

    At this stage I would caution and say that you have to be aware there is a limit to what TfL can do and it is hard to see any changes they could do that would significantly improve rush hour travel on SouthEastern. As Anglia has shown, there is a limit to what London Overground can achieve on takeover – certainly in the short term.

  225. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    “To disagree slightly with ngh, I don’t think eliminating the 3tph to Hayes – Cannon St especially helps because there is bound to be a better case for a new 12-car train service to Cannon St than a 5 (or 6) car service to Dalston Junction.”

    My thinking on the benefit of eliminating the Hayes NR services was from the point of making it easier to timetable the remaining NR services through Lewisham etc. to maximise overall capacity which would be easier without them as it removes conflicting moves at both Courthill on the slows Junctions (and Parks Bridge Jn on the fasts).

  226. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Aha, I didn’t think of that.

  227. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    PS Agree on the BCR for a 12 car to CST always winning.
    In the case of say 3 extra tph due to ATO/ERTMS etc around Cannon Street I was assuming that at least 1 would be via Greenwich. Diverting the Gillingham semi-fasts via Greenwich (1.5 – 2mins longer journey than via Lewisham) and more ECS via Greenwich would be helpful to maximising gains at too.

    I suspect that the LO proposal would have required the Cannon Street tph to drop from 25tph to 22tph (3 less due to no ECS via Blackfriars route post TL etc.) but if that effectively doesn’t happen due to ERTMS/ATO etc. then it won’t work.

  228. AlisonW says:

    Anonymously: I thought that was “Bob the builder”‘s tagline.

  229. Anonymous says:

    Anomnibus. Let’s never improve anything. If people want something better they can move somewhere else. Every time.

  230. timbeau says:

    “Yes, we all know there is a perception that tube is better than those trains that only run above ground and are not run by TfL.”
    Not at Wimbledon or Richmond – some people change, for sure, but even with S7 stock you are more likely to get a seat in the morning peaks on the District Line than you are on SWT.

  231. Kingstoncommuter says:

    With regard to an overground extension, although I can’t find any references to it, wasn’t there talk of a new station in Lewisham, ‘Lewisham South’ or something?

  232. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    A stab at a minimal LO to Bromley North (I’m more than happy to be shot down in flames here, my asbestoas jacket is at the ready):

    1. Demolish New Cross Station and put it on the bridge as an appendage…
    2. Build a junction at the A2 end for Southbound trains. This may require a small northwards extension of the current eastmost SE platform.
    3. Add a platform to the Up Chx track, this will be narrow, but no worse than some tube stations.
    4. Remove the substation just north of Edward St (BTW Google maps are showing the slewing of the lines currently in place)
    5. Add a high speed point to diverge the up (northbound trains)
    6. Use the largest possible curve to join onto the current branch
    7. At Grove Park add a connection from the down fast to the Bromley North branch

    Incidentally that would restore how the line used to be!


    Southbound trains join the down slow/CST, as far as the curved points in the bend at Lewisham (name illegible, due to graffiti) here they jump onto the down fast calling at Hither Green and Grove Park, then it goes down the branch.

    The northbound trains, simply stay on up fast, calling only at Hither Green and New Cross.

    In both cases the LO extension has a platform to wait at before being inserted into the remaining traffic.

    I’m not going to go anywhere near a viable timetable!

    As specified above, minimal cost, maximum headache

    [Note that this is very close to being snipped for crayonism, saved only by the fact that it would restore the line to what it originally was. LBM]

  233. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Crayonistas beware: This requires filling in the entrance to the Fleet line test tunnel!


  234. Anonymously says:

    @Southern Heights

    Looking at what you’ve just proposed for New Cross (incidentally, the original station building was on the road bridge before it was rebuilt in the 1970s), I would characterise it as substantial cost, fatal headache! Any use of the fast lines which involves stopping trains on them at stations will never happen, due to the resulting loss of train paths for express trains. If that wasn’t an issue, you may as well just restore a direct service from Bromley North into London that runs fast from Grove Park or Hither Green!

  235. Anonymously says:


    Yes, it’s a depressing situation, isn’t it. One further advantage of a tube line is that, unlike the LO, everything is under the exclusive control of TfL, and they can do pretty much whatever they want with it without TOC or Network Rail (or even BR/NSE back in the day) interference. This is one of the main reasons why I believe that CR2 should be a metro, not a regional line, since as soon as you join it to the national rail network in its present state, you are opening yourself up to a whole world of complications, risks and operational pain…..

    I will shut up now.

  236. NickBXN says:

    Once LO goes much beyond NX, then the last remaining peak hour spare capacity on the core section will disappear, and it will be 100% chockablock… as would the Bakerloo. ‘Careful what we wish for!

    It will be interesting to see the result of the Bakerloo route consultation. My theory is that optimum loading / maximum local benefit would be achieved by using the Old Kent Road alignment, and (time for me take cover) terminating at NX. Any further, and NXG would become a Canada Water. Where this leaves achieving a turn up and go service Bromley North would be some form of grade separation at Grove Park. Time to put Google Maps away: Chinbrook Meadow might be a pleasant spot.

  237. Hedgehog says:

    The Bakerloo consultation response is out? Why do TfL never publicise it? I only find out here.

  238. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Hedgehog – they did put out a tweet earlier but I think you only find out directly if you actually responded to a consultation and TfL send you an E Mail. It’s the same with every consultation – buses, cycling etc – there is no mechanism or status page that makes it crystal clear that an update has happened. You have to keep going back and checking the actual consultation page all the time which is very annoying. The principle of consultation is good but the execution is a long way from good. Plenty of scope for improvement to aid people’s understanding of the process and its results.

  239. Hedgehog says:

    @WW Maybe I have an email. Thanks anyway.

  240. Greg Tingey says:

    As a thrice-a-year (or so) user of the Bromley N branch ( There’s a very good pub, called the “Red Lion” near the station) I also wish for a better service, that integrates better with others.
    As I’ve mentioned before a proper rail link to Bromley S would be very good … but the problems are in terms of, as far as I can see from comments, that there are “no paths” N of Grove Park.
    Hence my “tramisation” idea – but, again, where does it go to provide better connectivity, all-round, in that part of London?
    [ Is there scope for a questioning article comparing Paris’ almost entirely circumferential trams & London’s absence of same?
    London is easily the biggest single-centre conurbation in Europe, but, surely, comparisons with Paris & Berlin, the other real biggies might be relevant.
    Why are particular solutions favoured in one city & not another – & it ain’t “just” politics, though that does play a large part.]

  241. ML says:

    Re comments above re LO beyond New Cross

    The TfL response to the Bakerloo consultation feedback says in one comment that the possibility of LO beyond New Cross depends on the availability of paths in the post Thameslink timetable, and that TfL will consider the issue further once the timetable is known post 2017. Suggesting that they so indeed see the main problem as the ability to produce a workable timetable.

  242. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I suspect that is referring to the desire to add 2tph to Crystal Palace initially. The would also like to increase services to Clapham Junction and West Croydon but they depend on a number of longer term factors.

  243. ngh says:

    Re PoP & ML,

    And if/when Windmill Bridge Junction gets rebuilt in CP6 (2019-24) TfL want to go to 6tph to West Croydon but can’t because of the infrastructure limitations at present. Clapham Junction area is also similarly limiting at the moment for the LO SLL services.

    The problems with extending beyond New Cross is that you then tie the SE timetable to the Southern Metro timetable which may well not be possible…
    (And everyone else is probably trying to avoid that happening!)

  244. Anonymous says:

    I notice that direct services from Charing Cross and Cannon St. have resumed the past few weekends due to engineering work between Grove Park & Petts Wood. Not permanent but proves that on rare occasions direct services do run.

  245. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Yes, they use the same tracks as is used to get the shuttle to and from the depot. If the experience you get on the mainline at 70mph is anything to go by, this will be done very slowly!

  246. Furious of Sundridge Park says:


    It might be a good time to look at this again. The Mayor of London has seen that the land around Bromley North Station is an area that he could build lots of new housing on. The land is currently a largely unused car park and a bus terminal and would be a perfect brownfield site to build on. They can’t knock down the station and build on it because it’s a listed building and there are plans to develop the old Town Hall opposite into a huge hotel.

    Bromley Council has completed a massing exercise of the area, known as Site A and has upped the number of units that could possibly be built to 525. They’re currently in public consultation and a plan is expected to be submitted Jan 2017. They’re quite happy for developers to build residential property up into the sky, you only have to look at the development at Bromley south.

    Now it doesn’t make any sense to have all the new people that will be living next door to Bromley North Station getting the little shuttle train to Grove Park, clambering over the footbridge to Platform 4 and joining already overcrowded stopping services to LB, CX and CS. And the problems of getting the DLR from Lewisham to Bromley has been well documented.

    However the Thameslink work at London Bridge is due to complete in 2018, and all the Thameslink trains that were going through the London Bridge to Orpington line will now be going through Peckham, Catford and Bromley south to get to Sevenoaks. Therefore freeing up some slots for a fast commuter service from Bromley North. The platforms are long enough and as described here the tracks are all there. This was mentioned by a Network Rail spokesman in an article a couple of years ago in the News Shopper.

    “”At this point, we cannot squeeze another train in without negatively impacting on other services.”

    The spokesman said they would review the situation in 2018 after the Thameslink programme is completed.

    The £6.5 billion rail project is expected to free up more capacity at London Bridge station.”

    Now with the extra demand from the thousand or so brand new Bromley residents as well as the existing residents who need to get to the City and into Docklands (Has anybody tried to get to Canary Wharf from Bromley South… impossible yet it’s just ten miles away) I can see this having legs.

    Then in the future they may even bring the Overground to Bromley north too.

    I live in hope.

    Well I don’t, I live in Sundridge Park but you know what I mean.

  247. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Furious: There are no Thameslink trains currently going that way and there never were… There is one from Blackfriars to Orpington in the afternoon, it goes via Loughborough Junction… Three in the morning (IIRC), also via Loughborough Junction…

    So no paths to be freed, and certainly no chance of a fast service, as Bromley South has that already….

  248. ngh says:

    re Furious of Sundridge Park,

    I think you will continue to “live in hope” and probably be furious for a very very long time to come.

    “However the Thameslink work at London Bridge is due to complete in 2018, and all the Thameslink trains that were going through the London Bridge to Orpington line will now be going through Peckham, Catford and Bromley south to get to Sevenoaks. “

    Not true

    London Bridge to (Orpington and beyond) – 2 will still operate post 2018 as Thameslink on the Fast lines through Grove Park and the other TL services on the Catford Loop are effectively reinstated stopping or semi-fast services that were withdrawn for various reasons the last of which was for the rebuilding of Blackfriars in 2009 and earlier for Eurostar introduction in the 1990s. They are not diverted away magically…

    Capacity frequently doesn’t mean extra trains but longer ones especially in the case on the SE side of the London Bridge rebuild.

    “Therefore freeing up some slots for a fast commuter service from Bromley North. The platforms are long enough”

    No fast slots are freed up.

    Without selective Door Operation on trains the Bromley North branch is limited to 8 car when the aim would be to get all SE services into the termini to 10 or 12 car length. The platforms are not full length.

    Useless a direct train from Bromley North at full length 10/12car is as rammed full as other services then it is an overall loss of capacity into London Bridge so is non starter.

    The branch is connected to the Fast (Charing Cross) lines where there will be no spare capacity post 2018 whatever infrastructure upgrades you do as there are physical limits at Charing Cross.

    The only possibility is extra trains into Cannon Street after resignalling etc. upgrades but that would be via the slow lines where there isn’t any grade separated connection at Grove Park.

    There is more demand for extra capacity on other SE metro routes as they have many more stations all seeing growth so would probably win any analysis as they effectively have in TfL’s latest analysis for what it would do if it took over running SE metro services.

    Any review in 2018 will come to the same conclusions as previous ones.

  249. timbeau says:

    all the Thameslink trains that were going through the London Bridge to Orpington line will now be going through Peckham, Catford and Bromley south to get to Sevenoaks.

    As SH(LR) says, the ex – SER Charing Cross- London Bridge – Grove Park – Orpington services and the ex-LCDR Blackfriars – Catford – Sevenoaks services have always existed; both are running now; and both will continue to do so after 2018.

    “They can’t knock down the station and build on it because it’s a listed building”
    There are many listed station buildings which haven’t seen a train for decades. Here is Staines West.

    Sadly, I think you are more likely to see the trackbed occupied by yet more houses, rather than through trains to London……………

  250. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Whilst I have my sympathies (I remember the Bromley North branch when it had a better service and was much busier) I think you are asking for something unachievable.

    The primary flaw in your logic is that you look at what is going on at Bromley North in isolation. Basically to get through trains to Charing Cross or Cannon Street you have to take through trains away from someone else.

    Reporting on the growth at Bromley North is pretty much irrelevant. To even start to have a case, what you have to show is that growth at Bromley North is more than elsewhere and I fear that others (the Greenwich line springs to mind) have a far better case. You are talking about a few hundred extra apartments – others will be talking about thousands or even tens of thousands of extra apartments on their line with “capacity improvements” (long promised but rarely materialising longer trains) only partially catering for the extra inevitable demand.

  251. Tim says:


    “The only possibility is extra trains into Cannon Street after resignalling etc. upgrades but that would be via the slow lines where there isn’t any grade separated connection at Grove Park.”

    Which, as said previously, doesn’t seem to cause a problem for the in or outbound Charing Cross services leaving from P4/5 Grove Park necessarily crossing on the flat further down the line.

    One or two, peak time, 8 car trains would be rammed – as they were in the past – which would help regulate loading for ex-London Bridge Orpington/Sevenoaks services, reduce dwell time at LB, Grove Park, etc…

    There is massive supressed demand for such a service.

    I don’t think it would be technically insurmountable to extend to 10-car platforms at either P1 Grove Park or at Bromley North.

  252. Tim,

    I would certainly agree that there is probably substantial potential demand. Perhaps latent (hidden) is more accurate than suppressed.

    I go back to my point though. Is the latent demand higher than on other competing lines? Also, counting against the Bromley North branch are the possible alternatives of Bromley South, Elmstead Woods and a bus journey to Grove Park. Only two stations lose out and it is hard to envisage Sundridge Park ever becoming busy.

    I know this is not a fair indication but, off-peak passenger numbers don’t suggest a flood of passengers just waiting to use the service. Sure, changing at Grove Park must put off a substantial portion but that would probably have to be 95% or more to make it worthwhile to run through trains. As a contrast, if you had caught a Greenwich train from London Bridge before last August you would have seen a line that genuinely could justify an off-peak train every 10 minutes and could be even more frequent.

  253. ngh says:

    Re Tim,

    A few things have moved on in the last circa 4 years since the article was published and the initial comments.

    “Which, as said previously, doesn’t seem to cause a problem for the in or outbound Charing Cross services leaving from P4/5 Grove Park necessarily crossing on the flat further down the line. ”

    Except the new proposed TL7 service from Cambridge to Maidstone East via London Bridge when going south swapping from Thameslink to SEML slows (e.g. Cannon Street Lines) then swapping to SEML fasts at Courthill Loop South Jn then on the fasts out through Grove Park (and vice versa going north). Hayes Line trains are swapping to more Charing Cross destination ones which are paired at Parks Bridge Jn with the TL7 junction moves to maximise capacity with no conflicting moves so fewer Grove Park slows to Charing Cross services in the future doing the opposite swap, they also tended to use the slow line speed points & crossings just north of Parks Bridge* to do the slow (Cannon Street) lines to fast (Charing Cross) lines swap which you want to reduce to improve capacity and resilience overall.
    *(track geometry limited by under bridge spacing)

    Anything new you would want to propose running in the future would really have to be 12 car and rammed for the entire peak to entertain consideration.

    Dwell time at London Bridge in the peak for SE services (in the peak flow direction for Cannon Street) won’t be a problem from August 2017 for Charing Cross services or Jan 18 for Cannon Street services. The old P6 has departed.

  254. John B says:

    Very little was said about the TL7 service on the Thameslink timetable thread. If it really is going to be hopping onto the slows before it gets on the fasts, won’t it be hugely disruptive in both directions, as its chance of being on time at Grove Park when starting at Cambridge or Maidstone seem slim too me. And conversely any Southeastern disruption is going to ripple into the presentation of the service into the Thameslink core.

    Perhaps TL7 should stop at Grove Park on the slow lines to give the Bromley North line speedy access to Canary Wharf via Farringdon 🙂

  255. ngh says:

    Re John B,

    How is TL 7 going to stop at Grove Park on the slow platforms when it goes through on the Fasts 😉

    Apart from the Fast – Slow swap (north bound direction and v.v. south) at Courthill South Jn which is 40mph all the other swapping opportunities are effectively 15mph so 2.5 times the occupancy of the track being crossed…

    And additional housing unit wise far more units are being added on the soon to be for Fort Halstead site than around Bromley North so even for services through Grove Park those that go to Orpington or Sevenoaks might be more a better use of capacity?

  256. Man of Kent says:

    If TL7 is on the fasts through Grove Park, then presumably it has to cross back to the slow at Chislehurst in order to access the Chatham reversible (and then make a crossing of the up Chatham at some point in order to turn right at Swanley). Is staying on the slow line throughout an easier way to avoid these conflicts?

    In the other direction it could in theory use the up Chatham loop, which eliminates both of these at-grade crossings. I can’t remember what the usual routing of the old service was, but the 1Gxx Kent Coast-Cannon Street trains usually use the reversible.

  257. Greg Tingey says:

    Elephant in room – totally ignored (?) by everyone – though mentioned in passing up-thread.

    Capacity on all these relevant services is limited from 2018 onwards by (terminal) capacity @ CHX & CST.
    There will be only one way to relive that & that is “route 7” i.e. CR3 …
    [ Marylebone & Euston services surfacing somewhere in the Lewisham / Hither Green area ]

  258. timbeau says:

    Well, not the only way. Any of the following might take a bit of pressure off the lines through Borough Market.
    – Haykerloo (arguably a “Marylebone service surfacing somewhere in the Lewisham area”)
    – Extension of the ELL from New Cross
    – Crossrail beyond Abbey Wood Expensive, yes – but so would CR3 be.

  259. ngh says:

    Re Greg,

    I did mention Charing Cross and Cannon Street capacity issues @ 1328 yesterday…
    And also the justification for a swap being huge passenger numbers on the branch.

    Re Timbeau,

    Agreed but CR east of Abbey Wood* is substantially cheaper (costed at circa £500m by Crossrail) by an order of magnitude than Haykerloo and ELL east of New Cross is becoming more unrealistic as time goes on.

    *As SE can’t deliver the number of passengers to Abbey Wood to change and fill the trains in addition to demand along that branch then the case for extension will be good.

  260. Tim says:


    It unfortunately does, as you said originally, appear to be in the ‘too hard’ pile.

    Realistic outcomes over the mid term?

    1. Do nothing to the service pattern and perform maintenance when unavoidable. As pointed out up thread, the track and ballast will need replacing at some point – I can’t see the line being singled because of the occasional need to utilise branch as diversionary route and the necessary flexibility to have 2 trains on the branch at a time in such an occurence.

    – trivia point – is the branch the only substantial remaining section of conventional ‘non-continuous welded rail in Z1-X?

    2. ELL south of New X, as said, won’t happen.

    3. Flyover/grade separation one day from P5/branch in the distant future? I still think this is technically feasible on site (there is plenty of room to the south east of the station at the end of Amblecote Meadow cul-de-sac) but bow to engineering judgment in another thread. It won’t happen.

    4. Haykerloo won’t happen. As pointed out in your other article, Lewisham will be the terminus. Given the NTfL procurement delays/Bakerloo stock issues, I think even initial construction of this being unlikely to start within the next 15 years…

    5. DLR won’t happen.

    6. Ditto trams – nowhere realistic to go as discussed in detail by others above (having reread this whole thread + comments last night there appear to be some strangely prescient comments re Sandilands junction a couple of years ago…)

    7. Increase peak frequency to 4tph to fit in with the main line timetable? Insist that branch trains don’t pull away as the (late) evening peak service pulls into P5 (another not to be underestimated driver against using, or considering using the service, in the evening peak)

    8. Stop a couple of peak hour fasts at Grove Park on the fast platforms?

    9. Extend Bromley North platforms to 10-car on the cheap a la Hampton Court?

    7/8/9 being most realistic?

    To try and address your point about latent demand being higher than other lines, my take on it is more ‘area based’ than line based. An area roughly bordered by Bromley town centre, Shortlands, Beckenham Junction etc does not have a reliable, fast, service to the City which it deserves – as you acknowledge in the article. The occasional peak Thameslinks out of BJ are rammed. Hence the pressure on Grove Park and displacement to Catford Loop. This latent demand is peak commuter demand for LB / the City – for the West End, obviously people go to Bromley South or other stations on the Chatham Main.

    4tph on Catford Loop will help, but I predict issues with the reliability of this service post TL-go live. To link neatly back on topic, other much discussed issues with crossing ‘on the flat’ at Blackfriars may emerge…

    Contrary to popular belief, the bus service between Grove Park and Bromley (again at key peak times) is neither adequate nor reliable nor quick. Especially if the scenario envisaged in 7) above re branch trains pulling away occurs, the bus stop outside the station very quickly becomes packed and it is often impossible to get on the first or second bus that (eventually) emerges at a known bottleneck road junction.

    Re ngh

    Points accepted re TL7 and useful technical info. I still however do not entirely buy the issues with crossing on the flat and the subsequent occupation time of the main line. All fast Waterloo trains leaving from P1 Surbiton do it – often 12 cars – and the fast SWMLs through P2 Surbiton pass at higher speeds and to my experience higher frequencies than they do at Grove Park. This scenario equates fairly well to putative or past London-bound Bromley North services as the stopping train has to join the main line at high speed.

    I have spent long enough waiting at Grove Park in the morning in my time and would guesstimate the average time between fasts going through P2 is about 5 minutes.

    I am just glad I very infrequently have to use this branch or Grove Park in the peaks again! Granted my experience has been seriously coloured by being over the duration of the worst bits of the LB works but these issues effectively made me, amongst other reasons, change jobs last year.

  261. timbeau says:

    “I still however do not entirely buy the issues with crossing on the flat and the subsequent occupation time of the main line. All fast Waterloo trains leaving from P1 Surbiton do it.”

    But at Surbiton the lines are paired by use, not by direction, so such trains do not need to cross the down fast on the flat.

    I can’t see that extending the platforms to ten cars would be worth it. A ten car train would only be worth running on the shuttle if ten cars-worth of passengers can be accommodated on the connecting services at Grove Park, in addition to those already on board having joined at Orpington, Chislehurst, etc.

  262. Malcolm says:

    Tim: comparing flat crossings. Regardless of whether the one you mention is strictly comparable, this is anyway a mug’s game. As has been pointed out several times, one flat crossing can in theory allow the same number of trains per hour as plain track. Provided, and this is a very important proviso, the timetable can be built round this particular crossing, which can normally only happen if all of the trains using the crossing in question do not use any other flat crossing.

    Back in the real world, with complex networks having flat crossings scattered unevenly all over them, the best, or only feasible, timetables always involve apparently sub-optimal use of many of the crossings, with only a few of the crossings (round which the timetable is developed) achieving anything like the theoretical maximum throughput.

  263. ngh says:

    Re Tim,

    In addition to Timbeau’s points on paired by direction vs paired by use as to why Surbiton isn’t a suitable comparison:

    Surbiton is the last point on the SWML where services join the fasts, where as there are 2 further ones inside Grove Park which you have completely ignored at Parks Bridge Jn where the Hayes services join and Tanners Hill Jn where the Lewisham – Charing Cross services join. So you have 12 trains per hour in each direction in total at those 2 locations to move on /off the Charing Cross (fast) lines (24 train in total in both directions) which conveniently fit into everyone of those carefully choreographed “5 minute” gaps! e.g. those gaps don’t exist further up the line!!! GTR is carefully sneaking a new TL service up the fasts then onto the slows without the getting in the way of the above moves.

    The Entry /Exit speed of Bromley North branch is 20mph which is lower than the other junctions mentioned above so longer occupation time also the down services occupy the up fast for very long time in comparison to elsewhere because of the track layout and line speeds at Grove Park (c.f. no conflicting moves at Surbiton).

    You cannot optimise capacity at every junction you have to pick and chose to minimise overall capacity loss overall.

    So there is no space at Charing Cross (no upgrades possible) or Cannon Street (Only if resignalled with ATO etc but other lines have greater demand for additional services).

    There isn’t fast line capacity between Charing Cross and St Johns and on the slows the future Thameslink TL7 and the TL Gravesend via Greenwich have wiped out the spare capacity between Parks Bridge / North Kent East Jn and Surrey Canal Junction. There is then no spare capacity.

  264. Tim says:


    Point taken re paired by direction.

    But I am not advocating some 8tph all day service or indeed any through service at all if it is technically or practically impossible given current infrastructure, rolling stock and/or crew rostering constraints.

    All I am saying is that this is a service which used to exist. It was well patronised when it did exist. There is significant demand for it to exist again (at least for limited peak working).

    It is clearly thus not beyond the realms of possibility to get a train over a set of points and two fast tracks – or even to run a (again, limited, peak) fast service as – to take the SWML example again – does or did happen with one evening peak train from Waterloo which goes fast to Surbiton then takes the Hampton Court branch.

    This “can’t and won’t be done” attitude I find rather frustrating, and dare I say it, somewhat patronising to the residents of Bromley, all who just want a half decent service to London Bridge and the City as opposed to the “closure by stealth” tactics operated imho over the past 25 years re this branch.

    One reason I would venture to suggest that the Hayes branch is so packed – at the Hayes / Bromley end – is the displacement of passengers as representing the only viable alternative route. Hayes is surprisingly close to Bromley South as the crow flies but the history of a branch of the Mid-Kent has meant stations that are largely inconvenient to get to or, latterly with no effective connecting public transport (see New Beckenham). It does gall slightly to see places like Orpington / Sevenoaks almost obscenely well served by services to a variety of destinations when a small pocket closer in is comparatively poorly served. And Z4 season tickets are still well into four figures as we all know…

    We are where we are, there seems to be very little appetite for change, so I’m not sure there is much more to be said on the subject and will attempt to refrain from commenting further!

  265. Graham H says:

    @Tim -the fact that certain service patterns once existed – and worked – doesn’t mean that they could exist now: service patterns have changed on virtually every line over the last decade or so and things that were possible in the past have become impossible today. That’s not patronising, merely practical.

  266. Stuart says:

    It sounds like relocating central Bromley nearer to the London – Orpington main line is the most practical option

  267. ngh says:

    Re Tim,

    One man’s realism is another’s pessimism I’m afraid.

    Capacity has been lost over the years into Cannon Street due to current safer signalling requirements and also very slightly into Charing Cross. Because something used to exist doesn’t mean it can now with current infrastructure or typically longer trains which occupy junctions for longer. e.g. it is “now technically and practical impossible” as there is effectively no where for the trains to go inwards after Hither Green, it is that simple hence what you call “can’t and won’t” from everyone else.

    Any capacity for direct Bromley North services has been (or is going to be – see future TL services) allocated elsewhere.

    With the removal over time of both Greenwich line and earlier and Caterham/Tattenham Corner – Charing Cross services there are now more services on the fast lines inwards from St Johns during the London Bridge rebuilding and afterwards than there were in 1967 before passenger numbers started to fall and safety requirements started to increase leading to cuts in services!

    A few simple questions:

    1. Which existing or planned services do you want to axe to create inorder to create a direct Bromley North service(s)?
    2. Are the axed services busier than a potential Bromley North Service? [yes]
    3. What are you going to do to cope with the displaced passengers on those services especially as they are all on higher growth lines?

  268. Tim says:


    Reread the bit where I said I am not advocating direct services if it is not possible and instead suggested some improvements to the present situation.

    But seeing as we are now going down the path of crayonism, and you are being facetious, let’s have a go.

    1. The TL7 one (planned) for a start as we have been told for years the “track is full up”. I would stop some Tonbridge etc trains which go fast to Orpington / Sevenoaks at grove park fast platforms at morning or evening peaks. Just look at current live evening peak as at time of writing for disparity. Or divert one or two Orpington stoppers full stop.

    2. How on earth do you know? The last direct trains regularly ran 25 years ago. I never took any. I’m currently on a service out of Vic with my dad, who did – who attested that they were packed then. On 8 coaches. Without any modelling or extrapolation for passenger growth in the intervening period, a glib “yes” won’t cut it. is there the possibility that with 10 coaches the demand could be there? We don’t know as the trains don’t run! Suppresed, or prevented, demand logically goes elsewhere – unless no one who lives in central Bromley or hinterland needs to work near Cannon Street or London Bridge. Hence running down the service, closure by stealth, 2tph up to 3 after a fight. Oh, sorry [yes]

    Does the Hayes branch count as one of the “growth areas”?

    3. Treat them like the Bromley North passengers, simples!


  269. Timbeau says:

    @Tim 1720

    That Hampton Court service has only recently been extended from its original Surbiton terminus – probably more as a way of getting it off the main line than anything else. It exists to provide relief to existing longer distance services on which Surrey passengers were being squeezed out by the massed hordes only going as far as Surbiton.
    Hampton Court, of course, has a direct Waterloo all stations service every half hour, but if it were not for the need to provide a service at Berrylands, SWT would love to reduce it to a shuttle and use the paths for something else. Indeed, most HC passengers save time by changing at Surbiton anyway, and the branch is reduced to a shuttle at the first sign of a need to think out the service through Wimbledon.

  270. John B says:

    @Tim the fasts haven’t stopped at Orpington in the rush hour for 40+ years because they are full when they get there. I don’t think they could take on passengers at Grove Park either, and stopping them would stall the fast line, losing paths.

  271. ngh says:

    Re Tim,

    “Reread the bit where I said I am not advocating direct services if it is not possible and instead suggested some improvements to the present situation.”

    You don’t seem to have understood from the many subtle hints from several individuals so far that it isn’t possible without substituting for an existing SE service so hence the explicit statement.

    1. Let me rephrase that more carefully which existing SE service as you need to find some capacity at Cannon Street or Charing Cross (i,e. not TL7 as it doesn’t have those terminus capacity issues so uses available capacity outside the termini)? What is the BCR for extra stops on fasts (focus on the time cost to longer distance passengers)?

    2. See John B’s comment… Everything else is rammed hence it is non starter especially as those other services will have higher fares baskets as the passengers have travelled further on average.

    3. Hayes line yes – and 1 station catchment alone on that branch has more development in the pipe line that the council originally turned down and then lost on appeal that is going ahead that the Bromley North branch has approved via any path. Some stations on other branches have several 10,000s of extra homes proposed. (PS all the other Branches have more MPs and bigger fare baskets.)

  272. Paul says:

    Tim 1720

    Your example fast train to Surbiton still crosses onto the slow at Surbiton and uses the down direction flyover. It doesn’t ‘cross two fast lines’ in the context of causing conflicts, it’s a grade separated Junction.

  273. Graham Feakins says:

    But just to cheer Tim up or at least reinforce his father’s memories, 10-car trains ran between London and Sundridge Park & Bromley North during the peaks. Indeed the platforms on the branch were/are cleared to accept 10-car trains of Mk 1 stock, viz. EPB’s but only 8-car since that era. From personal experience, it was a real bugbear to change trains at Grove Park on and off the Bromley North branch and I don’t doubt that explains the loss of traffic on the branch, although some loss of traffic anyway for reasons unknown must have occurred to reduce the branch to a shuttle but possibly because of an improved service stopping at Bromley South down the road. Trouble is, as explained above, there’s no longer room on the ‘main line’ to reinstate through services unless other services are lost.

  274. Graham Feakins says:

    P.S. I remember one of “the reasons unknown”. Around the time when the Bromley North through services ceased there was also a shift in commuter traffic from the City, esp. Cannon Street/London Bridge areas, to the West End and hence Victoria was seen as requiring improved services, which of course Bromley South and Shortlands were able to meet.

    That also explains the remodelling at a similar time of Windmill Bridge and Gloucester Road junctions on the Brighton main line.

    Now the pendulum has swung the other way, so they say.

  275. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: SE people have explained it to me, that the reason fasts do not stop in Orpington during the peak is not that they are actually full, it’s that the current load + current Orpington passengers plus the extra traffic migrating from other stations (by use of the excellent bus links, see Diamond Geezer’s post today) would completely overwhelm the trains.

    However having said that, I have noticed that recently there the window of the “no fasts” has been narrowing, so now the last fast from LBG in the evening is 16:59 (previously 16:08 [approximately]) and the first is 18:30 from CHX (previously 18:40).

    However those people in Bromley, should enjoy the fact that they do get fasts, during the entire rush hour. And it really isn’t that far to walk either…

  276. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR)

    It was John B rather then me.
    Agree with what SE have said and would add: The other issue is that due to power supply issues (lack of sufficient power beyond Seven threeoaks which is hopefully being addressed in the next few years – blame ORR for not allowing NR to tackle sooner) that there are limits on train length on some of the fasts so if that changes and there are all full length trains then may be things will change. The TL7/8/9 should help with the semi fast/stopping capacity so there might be some possibility of more fast/semi fast stops as there will some transfer around between those and existing services.

  277. John B says:

    Its impressive that Tubbenden Lane/Orpington station bus stop is so up there, as there is no layby, just a complicated junction with 2 side roads, heavy pedestrian traffic and buses turning towards the bus station up a road where they can’t pass for illegally parked cars which the council never ticket.

    In my youth there used to be Sevenoaks starter that stopped until Petts Wood, then fast to Cannon St. Did they go when the 2 extra terminating platforms were added?

  278. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @John B: Plus the pedestrian crossing outside the Maxwell cycles very rapidly so causing quite a knock-on effect. And you missed Tower Road and Hill View Road….

    Living near the north end of the High Street, if I want to go to Locksbottom during the morning rush hour, I head towards Petts Wood first and use Crofton Lane just to avoid that nightmare!

  279. Disappointed of Sundridge Park says:


    Your responses have been really interesting, although I can’t pretend that I have followed all the technical stuff. But from what I can understand it would be extremely difficult to achieve any through service for Bromley North without taking trains away from other busy services, as the whole system is at capacity. And the passengers on the other services pay a whole lot more for a fast service.
    However it can’t be right that Sevenoaks to LB takes just over 20 minutes but because of the change at Grove Park even at peak time it can take twice that long from Bromley North in zone 4. I’m only asking for a couple of trains in the whole peak periods. They’d be very popular.
    As a resident a through service is of course beyond wishful thinking on my part. If it is impossible as has been suggested I wonder how commuter transport can be improved into the borough as has been promised for years. It was announced that the Bakerloo line is going to terminate at Lewisham and isn’t going to Bromley after all. The DLR option seems to be too complicated and is vehemently resisted by Lewisham Council and the overground seems to have similar difficulties going beyond New Cross. Bromley is the largest borough in London and I would suggest that politically it would be a good idea to do something for it’s residents who feel excluded from employment in the City and docklands because of the ridiculously long commute in spite of their proximity.

  280. timbeau says:

    As outer London boroughs go, I don’t think LB Bromley is that hard done by. It may be large in area but parts of it are quite rural so it is by no means the most populous.

    LB Bromley has 27 stations (and five tram stops) to serve 321,278 people (12,000 people/station), with services to all London termini, with a fast service from two of them (Bromley South, Orpington). TfL has a presence at two of the stations, as well as the tram stops.

    Although much smaller in area (less than a quarter of Bromley’s), Kingston is comparable in many respects. It has nine stations to serve its 169,958 inhabitants (19,000 people /station). All nine are served exclusively by SWT, and only one (Surbiton) has a fast service to London.

  281. Stuart says:

    Yes, as a LBB resident, I kind of agree that commuting provision to London is pretty good. The trick is to be located near to the main arterial rail lines, i.e. Orpington through to Grove Park or Orpington through to Beckenham via Bromley South. With the Hayes line filling some gaps.

    If you live to the North East of Bromley centre, if you arrived recently you probably knew that the train service was a bit patchy or required you to get to a better station on the above arteries. Development does not negate the need to look on a map before you decide where to live …

  282. Alan Griffiths says:

    timbeau 12 December 2016 at 17:07

    I’ll take you word that “LB Bromley has 27 stations”.

    That is more than my native county of South Yorkshire, population about a million and a half. Some of them were closed and were re-opened in Met County days.

  283. timbeau says:

    @Alan Griffiths
    Wikipedia’s entry for the borough has a list, which seems to be accurate.

    For many reasons (no single dominant city centre, people living nearer their place of work) the industrial areas of the north of England were historically a different kettle of fish to the metropolis. There were plenty of railways, but their main purpose was for conveying coal, not people.

  284. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Disappointed: Living in Orpington, it takes 40 minutes from there to London Bridge in the peaks…. Partly due to trying to squeeze on all those passengers getting on at Grove Park. 😉

    I have noticed that these days the people waiting at Grove Park and Hither Green, for that matter, are more widely dispersed along the platform. Probably a side effect of the rebuild of London Bridge…. This seems to have sped up the loading at both stations.

  285. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR)

    “I have noticed that these days the people waiting at Grove Park and Hither Green, for that matter, are more widely dispersed along the platform. Probably a side effect of the rebuild of London Bridge…. This seems to have sped up the loading at both stations.”

    Not having the exit from platforms at London Bridge at the “front” of the train probably also helps encourage passengers to spread out.

  286. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @ngh: At London Bridge (platforms 8&9), the last two coaches are now much closer to the escalators than the first 4, so yes… It started to be noticable within a week of the new platforms opening (at least in the peak).

  287. Greg Tingey says:

    That makes for interesting comparisons.
    Waltham Forest has ( Said he trying to count them up ) 14 stations & (wiki) a population of 268k, so 19 143 people per station & no fast services to the centre.
    A comparitive table of all the London Boroughs would be instructive, perhaps, as well as those authorities that “touch” the periphery of the GLA area.

    [Perhaps it would, but hosted somewhere else please. Malcolm]

  288. TheManOfG says:

    I don’t think there’s any obvious solutions. Ultimately it comes down to money, time, political will… and imagination by the transport companies. The easiest option is to increase the BN to GRP frequency to 4tph. Having two fast trains per hour during peak stop at GRP would help too.

    I would also propose that two BN trains terminate/shuttle to GRP, but the other two per hour continue from GRP (stopping on the slows) to somewhere else. Ideally this would be Blackfriars or the ELL through NX, but could be Dartford or Abbey Wood, most likely going on the Mottingham line.

    I also like the idea earlier of Crossrail going on to Dartford (or beyond), this could justify taking a couple or four trains per hour away from Dartford to CHX and Cannon Street- thus freeing the capacity for a direct service from BN.

    [This is a reminder to use full station names, not abbreviations, as we have many readers that are not conversant in railway codes. In this comment, methinks BN means Bromley North and GRP is Grove Park, whilst I’m certain that CHX is Charing Cross. LBM]

  289. Greg Tingey says:

    Used the branch last night, coming home from the Red Lion..
    On the 19.54 passengers were outnumbered by “SE” ticket-checkers … who ignored us, until we got on to the Up CHX terminator, whence they promptly checked our cards, having seen us arrive at Bromley N (!)

  290. timbeau says:

    Not planning a full list, but on a point of accuracy:
    “Waltham Forest has 14 stations ”
    I make it eleven (Wikipedia lists twelve, but omits Lea Bridge, and double-counts the two Victoria Line interchange stations). However, a full comparison (which we won’t do here) would have to take into account service frequencies as well. Walthamstow Central sees more trains in an hour than Bromley North sees in a day.

  291. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Or, to put it another way, in two weeks Walthamstow Central (LU portion only) has comfortably had more passenger journeys (entries and exits) than Bromley North has in a year.

    Walthamstow Central also sees a service 7 days (and 2 nights) a week. Bromley North has a service for 6 days a week.

    Even passenger numbers at St Johns comfortably exceed the number at Bromley North.

    Possibly one of the most dramatic variations used to be between East Croydon (very busy) and the fairly nearby terminus of Addiscombe (one could reasonably expect to be the only passenger on the train much of the time). Obviously the numbers using Bromley North and Bromley South are also considerably different.

  292. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – Waltham Forest may not have non stop services but we are not exactly devoid of quick journeys. The Vic Line is very quick these days and the high frequency cuts down platform wait time to little more than 1 min on average. The line into Liv St takes barely more than 16 mins off peak to reach the City, a tad more in the peaks. We could never be described as badly off on radial lines. The Central Line also provides a quick and frequent service for those on the south side of the borough. We’re also getting significant investment on the GOBLIN which many other areas would love to have. Given the typically decent journey times, even with the older trains in years past, I’m amazed Walthamstow and Leyton remained “undiscovered” by the property buying hordes for as long as they did.

  293. Ian J says:

    @PoP: East Croydon (very busy) and the fairly nearby terminus of Addiscombe (one could reasonably expect to be the only passenger on the train much of the time). Obviously the numbers using Bromley North and Bromley South are also considerably different.

    Bromley and Croydon are good examples of one of Jarrett Walker’s principles of transport planning – if you want a good service, be on the way to somewhere else.

  294. Anonymous says:

    Annual usage of the branch runs at 936,000 entries and exits so despite all the cuts over the years – notably the removal of direct trains to London, its still can be quite busy, although not of course as some other branches in London. I commuted on the 12-car direct trains to Charing Cross in the 1980s and they were pretty full by the time they got to Grove Park.

  295. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The latest figures are :
    Bromley North: 536, 856
    Sundridge Park: 243, 006

    So more like 780,000 than 936,000

    And while the trains used to be busy they certainly weren’t 12-car trains. 12-car trains have never run on the Bromley North branch.

    What isn’t known is whether the trains were busy because it was the service easiest to get on and get a seat or whether it was the one that genuinely was the first choice for convenience for the users. The former merely means the users get a benefit at someone else’s expense. The latter means a useful facility has been lost. The drop in numbers suggests to me that much of the demand was due to the former.

  296. Walthamstow Writer,

    high frequency cuts down platform wait time to little more than 1 min on average

    Of course, it depends what you mean by platform wait time. At Walthamstow Central you could argue it is almost zero because there is nearly always a train in the platform – even when Night Tube is running.

    If you average mean time waiting at platform for a train to arrive and if the train is already in the platform it is zero then it is less than a minute on average on intermediate stations the Victoria line in the off-peak. Trains are generally 135 seconds apart. Allow 25 seconds for door open time so for almost 20% of the time it is zero. For the remaining 80% of the time it averages at 55 seconds ((135 – 25) ÷ 2). So, by my reckoning and definition, average platform wait time on the Victoria line is around 45 seconds and even less than that in peak hours.

  297. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I was making a casual observation based simply on splitting the headway in half. I didn’t expect a “treatise” and a correction by way of response. 😉 It hardly matters does it if we’re talking about “broad brush” accessibility to the central area from an Outer London Borough?

  298. John B says:

    Waiting time is waiting for the train to depart, surely.

  299. Anonymously says:

    Reading the latest comments on this resurrected thread has been amusing since it supports my suspicion that there is a lot of latent demand in the area for a better service of *any kind* on this branch. If you don’t believe me, just look where its two stations are situated…..they’re hardly out in the rural sticks, are they?

    I suspect the only realistic way to provide a better service on the line without causing detriment to other services is to link it in with a brand new (Tube?) line to somewhere….but I’ll stop now since I can’t find my set of Crayolas 😉 .

  300. timbeau says:

    “they’re hardly out in the rural sticks, are they”
    Not quite, although Sundridge Park’s hinterland includes a large golf course. The latent demand you refer to is largely met by the presence of several other stations in the area, (not just Bromley South), so if the service on the branch were improved most of the extra users would not be new traffic but migrated from other routes. Thus no more revenue for the railways, and no fewer cars on the roads.

  301. Anonymously says:

    @timbeau…..And why is it a bad thing if it encouraged users to switch from other routes, if this reduced overcrowding on those routes? With a growing population, we need all the extra public transport capacity we can muster (which could also generate extra net revenue, depending on construction and/or running costs of any newly implemented service).

  302. Timbeau says:


    Not a bad thing at all, if it can be done without robbing Peter’s capacity to pay Paul.

    And if the line it is supposed to relieve is actually full (see the Croxley link vs Wat-Eus discussion)

  303. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I may well be talking nonsense but a look at the bus routes that roughly parallel the Bromley North branch (126, 261 and 314) have all been putting on solid growth in recent years (slight wobble the last 1-2 years in line with wider patronage trend volatility). Obviously I don’t have detailed origin / dest info at route level but I wonder how many people who might use the B North line are, instead, using the higher frequency local buses to link to Grove Park or into Bromley for faster trains

  304. Hayesite15 says:

    One way to improve the service is to marry the timetable of the London services to that of the Bromley North shuttle particularly during the off peak
    At the moment the Bromley North shuttle runs at times completely independent to those of the trains it is supposing lay connecting to which gives uneven waiting times at Grove Park station of up to 20 mins for a Charing Cross train
    This is because the Bromley North Branch runs at 20 mins intervals and the main line trains run at 15 minute intervals
    The problem is exacerbated by the London Bridge works as Cannon Street trains which have been the best connectors in the past are now no longer useful to a west end traveller.
    If the Bromley North shuttle service were run at the same frequency as the main line ie every 15 mins and the service integrated ie with improved connection times then maybe the service would see increased passenger numbers?

  305. John B says:

    See the few messages from Alan (5 March 2014 at 08:12) onwards on this thread. I expect Southeastern view a 15 minute pattern as too tight to work.

  306. Anonymous says:

    Walthamstow Writer
    My family live close to Bromley North station (half-a-mile). Since the cuts that got rid of the direct trains to London in (early?) 1990s most people I know simply now catch a bus to Chislehurst – very frequent and most more easier than faffing around catching a shuttle service to Grove Park – much better to go Chislehurst where you’ll have a better chance of getting a seat in morning rush hour. You’re right about the connections, this has made in very difficult to get a connection. For example the .50 from Cannon Street tends to run a couple of minutes late, notably in the mornings. This arrives at Grove Park (in theory) at .12. The Bromley North train leaves at .15. Experianced passnegers know to get the right carriage on the train – one that stops right by the footbridge so you can get quickly over to the shuttle. This train will not wait, so tough luck to the elderly or parents with buggies. I have on many occasions just missed this train due to the Cannon Street service being 2 mins late. Solution? get a bus from Grove Park to Bromley as the next shuttle won’t be for another 20 mins.
    Trains from Charing connect badly for the shuttle – the .36 for example arrives at Grove Park at .58 – just missing the shuttle at .55 and leaving frustrated passengers to wait almost 20 mins for the next shuttle (.15). Most won’t of course, they’ll get off at either Grove Park or Chislehurst and get a bus – as they know the connections are so bad. Want to kill a previously well used branch line in London? Kill the direct trains, and run a shuttle with connection times. Result? People simple switch to using different stations and the bus/and or drive. Oh, and I forgot to mention
    a) that the 2-car shuttle is inadequate for the rush hour, in my experience really packed and not enough space – a four car train should run then (wishful thinking I know). It may be a short journey but a lot of people can be bothered with that either.
    b) no ticket gates at either Bromley North or Sundridge Park – there were always ticket checks under BR in the 1980s I remember. No ticket gates at Grove Park, Hither Green, St. Johns, Elmstead Woods, Chislehurst etc, so they may be a large number of people travelling without buying tickets at certain times, so I doubt if the “official” entry and exit figures can be seen as reliable.
    In a nutshell this is problem with cuts in my opinion. You ruin a decent direct service from Charing Cross in the rush hour (not BR’s fault, but the then Tory government), you end up with shoddy shuttle service – result? fewer people use the service. You also cut back on staff, leaving the line wide open to ticket evasion and free travel. And how much does that cost over the years I wonder?

  307. Anonymously says:

    ‘Want to kill a previously well used branch line in London? Kill the direct trains, and run a shuttle with connection times.’

    This of course has happened before (e.g. the post-war fate of the Ally Pally branch and the Woodside to Selsdon branch, although admittedly traffic levels on the latter weren’t that great to begin with). In a way, it is slightly remarkable that anyone still uses it at all in the numbers that they do, and that it has thus far managed to avoid rationalisation and closure!

  308. Malcolm says:

    Regarding “killing” of branch lines. Every dead branch line, just about, has had a poor service immediately before getting chopped. Whether this is the cause of the closure, or shared consequence of poor-anyway patronage, is just about impossible to determine from this observed correlation.

    What might make a (negative) point about causation would be an example of a branch line with excellent service which was nevertheless closed. But the absence of such evidence does not really prove anything.

  309. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm -I suspect that the category of “well-used” and “*branch*” lines within London is actually quite short, and indeed, the list of those which have not been *deliberately* rundown (if that is right) may even be longer than the list of those which have. You may have actually listed all the latter anyway.

  310. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Of course it would help if the connection was gauranteed, in that every (say) train coming from Charing Cross would have the shuttle waiting for it, with a five minute change allowed. But I guess that would be too advanced for the franchising system we are suffering under….

    After all the turn-around time at Bromley North should be enough to allow the shuttle to arrive up to 5 minutes late?

  311. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    Some branches have thrived after a period of neglect or at least low traffic levels – the District’s Ealing & South Harrow line and the Hounslow branch were both slow to pick up trade, and there are also the North, East, and West London Lines (the latter ridiculed in its early life as “Mr Punch’s Railway”), the LSWR’s Hammersmith to Richmond line, the Wimbledon-West Croydon line, the Snow Hill link, and the High Barnet branch of the GNR, all now carrying traffic levels undreamt of 100 years ago.

  312. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Maybe it should be “Overgrounded”?

  313. Graham H says:

    @timbeau -my remark was directed at “branch” – since that was what Malcolm was mentioning. If you start to include through services which have or have not been lightly used, then the list is, if not endless, extremely long – just think of the enormous number of variants on the Inner, Middle and Outer Circles, for a start, or the variations in stopping patterns on the GWML, for example, or the Midland’s attempts to get to strange places such Kew. An entertaining but unprofitable exercise .

  314. timbeau says:

    Most of those I listed were operated at some time in their histories as shuttles, with connections for central London. For example the railmotors to High Barnet, or the “Kenny Belle”, or the Hounslow to South Acton service.

  315. Graham H says:

    @Timbeau -again, the list of former shuttles is quite long,without shedding much light on the issue (eg Stanmore to Wembley, Stratford to Epping).

  316. Anonymously says:

    @Malcolm…..Is the Westerham branch then the exception that proves the rule (killed off by Earnest Marples purely because it was in the way of the M25)?

  317. Malcolm says:

    No, I think the Westerham branch is another of those which proves nothing. It was lightly used, and it was closed to save money. It was closed in 1961, and the motorway was eventually built partly on its course starting some 15 years later. Though there was, during the early part of that period, talk of enthusiasts re-opening the line, and (according to Wikipedia) some of these discussions were aborted because of then-planned road works. So the branch was certainly not killed off for the M25, not then a gleam in anyone’s eye, but the Sevenoaks bypass (opened in 1966) did put the kybosh on anyway rather fanciful revival plans.

  318. timbeau says:

    [The Westerham branch] was closed in 1961, and the motorway was eventually built partly on its course starting some 15 years later. So the branch was certainly not killed off for the M25, not then a gleam in anyone’s eye.

    Rather more than a gleam, even in the 1940s

  319. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Sorry to allow the facts to get in the way of your assertions.

    Woodside to Selsdon was an absolute basket case from the day it was built. I covered it as the final item in my article on the proposals in the Beeching report for railways in London. There are plenty of other articles online or good old fashioned books which more-or-less say the same thing.

    In any case you are wildly wrong about it being a shuttle. Until 1976 there was a direct service to London. This was not because the “branch” carried many passengers but simply because the “mid-Kent” (now Hayes) line needed to have a decent service of trains and the block section between Elmers End and Hayes precluded more trains being run to Hayes – where there was a substantial demand. This meant that Elmers End – Sanderstead (and Addiscombe) always had a direct service that could not really be justified.

    By the time it became possible to run all the trains to Hayes (not to kill the branches but because that is where the demand was) the number of passengers on Woodside – Selsdon was already absolutely minimal. The line basically kept going (as a shuttle) until renewal became necessary and it was wholly uneconomic to continue to run it. This would have been the case whether it was a shuttle or not. It was quite a miracle the line kept going until 1983.

    To suggest that the Westerham branch was closed by Marples so that the trackbed could be used for the M25 is almost certainly untrue though, given it was an obvious candidate for closure, it had probably been eyed up for that purpose. Even before Beeching (and Marples) the branch made no real sense and, M25 or not, it was hard to see how it could survive. I seem to recall a book which covered some of the Beeching closures and pointed out that the Westerham branch was only used by 71 people in the peaks. Or, as the book said, little more than a [motor] coach worth of passengers who could have been taken to Sevenoaks and have a journey that was only a few minutes longer overall. The branch was incredibly rural and the green belt policy would ensure that it would stay that way. The number of passengers within walking distance must have been absolutely minimal. If you are going to drive then you might as well drive to Sevenoaks.

    By the way, I am pretty sure that the Westerham branch was always run as a shuttle from Westerham to Dunton Green although someone may correct me if I am wrong. So the idea that through trains were withdrawn in order to kill off demand was probably wrong too.

  320. Anonymously says:

    @PoP…I did say in my original post that traffic levels on the Woodside to Selsdon branch were not that great, so there’s no need to be so cutting with me about my ‘assertions’! And strictly speaking I *was* correct about it becoming a shuttle after the loss of the through service….I was just unaware of the technical reasons you describe for its existence prior to 1976. One does wonder why (having survived Beeching, for reasons left unexplained by your other than ‘hardship to 650(!) daily users’) it wasn’t shut after the Hayes branch was resignalled…..clearly whatever ‘usefulness’ it had for the small number of regular passengers almost disappeared once the direct service was withdrawn

    As for Westerham, I was merely quoting it as an example of branch line which might have been better used if a decent service had been provided on it….I apologise for not making that clear. With regards to your other points, Subterranea Britannica ( provides more information on this…..given what we know now about Marples and the DfT’s policies at the time, it’s hard not to come to the cynical conclusion (particularly after seeing what happened with the reopening attempt) that the line’s alignment was already earmarked for something more ‘transport-worthy’, despite official denials at the time.

    And while the numbers using it weren’t that high, they were high enough that (a) a campaign for reopening as a private venture nearly succeeded, and (b) after closure the parallel 403 bus route became overloaded, despite the additional peak services that were put in place to compensate.

  321. PeterR says:

    Having lived close to the Westerham branch, and travelled on it in the fifties, I recall the Monday to Friday service ran in rush hours only, whilst the weekend service ran hourly, all day. It was a steam operated shuttle service, with the engine shedded at Tonbridge. I also recall the ‘killer blow’ to the preservation attempts was the cost of a bridge on the A21 Sevenoaks by-pass.

    As for ‘overgrounding’ the Bromley North branch, I have always been curious as to why the Overground ends at New Cross, as extending that route, prima facie, would serve a variety of markets, with Bromley North as possible terminus. The cost of a a few points and a connection at New Cross would be minimalist in comparison with Thameslink (2000!!). My assumption though is that there is no capacity in the peaks between New Cross and Lewisham. But what about off peak?

  322. Greg Tingey says:

    Better connectitivity at Grove Park would be a great improvement.
    As I said – I came out of the Red Lion last Wednesday, walked to BN &(having checked beforehand) had found that half the trains… ( See table 204 of the NTT) connected, the X.24 & X.54 off BN gave a 3-minute connection @ Grove Pk, but the other half, the x.10 & x.40 deliver yo to “GP” with no inward connection at all.

    A very slight re-jigging might work wonders, might it not?

  323. PeterR,

    It is not the cost of a few points. It is the cost of providing the trackbed for the points to be placed. To get a connection from the up slow (Cannon St) to ELL would be hugely expensive and an engineering challenge. You can’t have flat junctions at a place like New Cross.

    The real challenges are:

    i) getting from the slow tracks on the east to the Bromley North which is located to the west of the fast tracks

    and, above all,

    ii) producing a workable timetable that could fit in these trains.

    Lewisham station is already at capacity and if you don’t go via Lewisham then it is hardly worth doing as it would be very expensive for very little benefit. Even not going via Lewisham would be extremely challenging with the 3 track restriction at New Cross and the two track restriction (slow lines) at St Johns.

    Also, for future proofing, any proposal would need to either be able to cope with 6tph from the East London Line or maintain the existing terminating platform at New Cross – in which case it would seem to be a lot of effort for 3tph.

  324. Greg Tingey,

    Options are:

    30 minutes. Good connections but only twice an hour. This is how it used to be.

    20 minutes. Better but does not mesh well with 15 minute service at Grove Park. Some resilience but very little. Very little scope for adjustments as you have to connect in both directions and there is just one train. Erratic timings goes against the principle of a regular timetable.

    15 minutes. Very tight. Probably not possible or would either need major infrastructure cost or two trains to provide the service.

    The simple answer … There is no simple answer.

  325. PeterR says:

    PoP: I quite understand the difficulty of creating a flat junction at New Cross but the statement ‘you can’t have flat junctions at a place like New Cross’ is contradicted by North Kent East junction, a flat junction of course, immediately to the north of New Cross. I’m well aware of the issues at Grove Park — you can’t commute on this line for any length of time without becoming aware of them — but Bromley North is only one option.

    On Westerham, Oakwood Press’s Westerham Valley Railway (1974) includes the timetables from June 1961, which is as I reported earlier. But I had not previously noticed timetables showing a through train from Westerham to Cannon Street — from 1904 and 1906.

  326. ngh says:

    Re Peter R,

    I think PoP meant “room for more flat junctions”

    The future peak traffic level through the slow lines at St Johns will be 22tph with 8 stopping at St Johns which is about a sensible maximum given the other constrains in the area without ATO.

    Overgroundisation could of course take the form of the stand alone Romford – Upminister branch. You could of course partiallysolve the timing issues by using 2 units on the branches but with more passengers waiting time at Grove Park and trains at Sundridge Park going north. (SE don’t have any spare units so slightly academic)

  327. timbeau says:

    There are indeed many existing flat junctions on the SE network, and they are the main limiting factor on capacity. Adding another is really not going to help.
    At New Cross Gate there was space for a flying junction, and it could be used to reduce the number of trains heading towards London Bridge from the SLL and the Forest Hill line, allowing the reduction in terminal platforms there which was necessary for the Thameslink project.

    If the limiting factor were capacity between New Cross and London Bridge, as it was between NXG and London Bridge, it might be worth doing. But the limiting factor is capacity between New Cross and Lewisham, and it can’t be squandered on the five car trains which are the maximum the East London line can take, whereas SE suburban services are 10 or even 12.

  328. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Just what I hope is for clarity and not to confuse further …

    The future limit on all trains to Cannon St will be at least 22tph. It may be more one day but that will probably need ECTS + ATO and even then will probably not exceed 25tph*.

    A recent new factor to consider is GTR’s proposal to have Thameslink services on Southeastern (2tph via Greenwich and 2tph to Maidstone East not via Greenwich but presumably running on the slow [Cannon St] lines). So possibly 26tph north of North Kent Junction (where the Greenwich trains diverge) with 6tph, at least, going via Greenwich leaving 20tph to go via St Johns. That 20tph will have to include the new 2tph Thameslink service to Maidstone East so, for our purposes, that is 18tph Southeastern services.

    St Johns has a flat junction to the east of the station platforms so, by the time you include stopping trains, 20tph is a reasonable maximum assuming manual driving and no form of junction optimisation.

    Nowadays it is almost unthinkable to close St Johns. It takes pressure off Lewisham station and, whilst numbers are not enormous, usage exceeds that of the Bromley North branch.

    As timbeau says, if the constraint were St Johns, then putting 5-car trains in service at this location makes no sense. You should be aiming for every train to be 12-car in the peak.

    Until the GTR proposal you could have made a fairly good case for arguing that the ELL trains could use the slots freed by trains going via Greenwich. The weakness of this idea, which I partly alluded to, is that

    I) It doesn’t take into account dwell time at St Johns

    II) It needs to work for 6tph as that is what TfL are planning on running on the East London line to New Cross (24tph overall) from around 2023. Alternatively, you still need to terminate some ELL trains at New Cross.

    III) It needs to be possible with a workable timetable. I still argue the timetable would be the biggest challenge.

    Ironically, assuming that there will only be 4tph on the East London Line to New Cross doesn’t entirely help as much of the Southeastern metro morning peak hour timetable is based on 20 minute cycles. Worst still the evening peak is based on a 22 minute cycle.

    [* I know that they used to run more than 25tph to Cannon St many years ago but the layout at London Bridge was different then and it was also partly at the expense of fewer Charing Cross trains.]

  329. Verulamius says:

    On flat crossings around Grove Park, there was a comment by ngh some way back on thread about routing TL7 on the fasts. I can understand this on the up: up Chatham fast, up Chatham loop, up fast to up slow at Courthill South Jn. However in the down direction as the up Chatham loop is not reversible (any plans to change this?) a move at Courthill South Jn to access the down fast would need to be replicated at Chislehurst (20 mph Jn?) to access the reversible Chatham loop. The train would then be on the down Chatham slow and need to cross over to the down Maidstone.

    I can see why the down movements might be required to overtake stopping trains, but it does add additional complexity.

  330. Ian J says:

    @PoP: 15 minutes. Very tight. Probably not possible or would either need major infrastructure cost or two trains to provide the service

    Would there be any prospect of using a lighter type of vehicle with faster acceleration to make a 15-minute return journey feasible?

  331. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 18/12 2245 – I have only used the Bromley North branch once and was caught out by the somewhat convoluted interchange to reach the platform at Grove Park. This, of course, meant I missed the shuttle and had to sit for 20 minutes. I was distinctly unimpressed and have not sought to use the line again. I tend to use buses in SE London as I’m not familiar with the trains and half hourly frequencies on most services are not worth bothering with when buses run 3 or 4 times more frequently albeit more slowly in many cases.

  332. Timbeau says:


    Sadly, the removal of 6tph at North Kent junction does not create six paths through St Johns that could be filled by trains off the ELL. There are three tracks, not two, on the Cannon Street line between North Kent junction and London Bridge, which allows more parallel moves than would be possible at New Cross.

  333. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Presume you mean St Johns junction rather than New Cross. But it is not as simple as that because the main constraint is not North Kent junction but throughput at London Bridge on the three tracks (platforms 1, 2 & 3) due to dwell time and the throat outside Cannon St station.

    The point I am trying to emphasise is that you have to solve all these issues simultaneously (hence my obsession with the need to produce a workable timetable) so worrying too much about whether A is a bigger constraint than B or C is when viewed in isolation is not the whole issue.

  334. timbeau says:

    No, I meant the hypothetical junction at New Cross implied in the suggestion that “Until the GTR proposal you could have made a fairly good case for arguing that the ELL trains could use the slots [through St Johns] freed by trains going via Greenwich.” You have come up with three reasons it wouldn’t have worked. I have merely added a fourth.

  335. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Yes, that junction would have to be taken as grade separated before even considering anything else.

  336. ngh says:

    The obvious and easier way to enhance capacity on Cannon Street services is to lengthen the trains from 8/10 car to 12 car (and upgrade the power supplies (again) AND go for higher capacity train interiors rather trying to run more services hence little real appetite for the more expensive infrastructure needed for the alternative of running more services to add more trains instead.

    With Crossrail 2 trying to reduce the SWML suburban branches into Waterloo downwards not upwards I can see the opposite happen on SE via London Bridge services.

  337. Greg Tingey says:

    The other way (as well) to increase capacity into CST would be to have three tracks, not two over the whole distance between LBG & CST – I know the distance covered by only 2 tracks is very short, but it must be a constraint, especially as regards conflicting moves

  338. Greg,

    You keep pointing this out. It is the successor to the Emergency Spur.

    As I point out each time you do, ngh and myself have actually been at a meeting with Network Rail where they have explained that this isn’t actually much of a constraint (no stations involved) and that it would be much easier, more cost-effective and increase capacity by a higher amount to fan out to four tracks on the approach to Cannon St (from two). This is how it was prior to 1990-ish but it was reduced to three to allow for the extra width of Network trains. At the time three tracks would have covered any foreseeable future requirement.

    Also ETCS would probably achieve more for less once the opportune time for it comes.

  339. Sad Fat Dad says:

    Greg – the constraint on the approaches to Cannon St is not the short section of two track, but:

    a) the longer section of three tracks round the corner
    b) the configuration of the junctions that go from 3 tracks to the 7 platforms
    c) that there are only three platforms for Cannon St services at London Bridge

    Of these it is c) that is by far the biggest issue.

    Even if a) and b) could be solved (they can’t without new viaducts, it’s been looked at), c) still prevents more than 24tph going into Cannon St as you can’t get more than 24tph out. And vice versa.

    To solve c) also needs new viaducts. Rather large ones, over what is now Duke St Hill and Tooley Street.

  340. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @PoP – apologies, I started my response before you, but finished after.

    Incidentally, it is this situation at Cannon St which makes the TfL devoloution business case for this area ‘interesting’, bordering on ‘controversial’.

  341. Greg Tingey says:

    Thank you
    I hadn’t realised that it was the 3-track section that was the problem ….

  342. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Whilst we are on a (temporary) diversion to Cannon Street, I have noticed that link to Metropolitan Junction (i.e. the Thameslink branch junction) is OOU and not only that, but that the restaurants and bars under it have closed down and the walls/everything demolished.

    What’s going on there then?

  343. ngh says:

    Re SH(LR),

    [Metropolitan curve – therein lies the reason you as you can’t sneak more empty trains out].

    The gap between the new Charing Cross lines coming into use and the old coming into use as the new Thameslink lines provides a once in multi-century opportunity to do structural repairs etc on the Met curve as well the former Charing Cross line (future Thameslink) viaduct and also fully integrate the northern part of the new Western Approach Viaduct (the “wedge”) to the 2 existing viaducts so the new Thameslink and Met Curve track can be laid.

    Re Greg,

    You can get 28 tph over the 2 track section between Waterloo East and London Bridge as you aren’t stopping at a station, however you need 4tracks and platforms at both stations as soon as you want to stop all those services. See the current 3 track and platform issues for Charing Cross Services at London Bridge where there is only 1 track available for counter peak services so they can’t stop (26tph pass in peak am hour). A mix of stopping an non stopping is possible at 22tph (assuming quick dwell times).

    The 3 track section on the curved approach to Cannon Street had some sections that are only signalled unidirectionally but this is being addressed and more will be bi-directionally signalled after the rebuild is completed (Helps getting train out of P5,6 and especially P7 with the Met curve not generally usable for it former use. [from left to right: Rev, Up, Down changes to Rev, Rev, Down]

  344. Anonymously says:

    Is the Met curve the west-facing one linking Cannon St to Waterloo East/Blackfriars?

  345. Greg Tingey says:

    the junction at the W end of that triangle is “Metropolitan Junction”

  346. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Anonymously: Correct….

  347. timbeau says:

    What, then, is the name of the curve from Metropolitan Junction to Blackfriars Junction: the one connecting the ex-LCDR and SER lines that were, and will be, used by Thameslink trains between Blackfriars and London Bridge?

  348. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    According to my Pre-Grouping railway atlas (5th Edition) that would appear to be Waterloo Junction. But I might be wrong and the name does seem somewhat strange!

  349. timbeau says:

    Waterloo Junction was the original name of Waterloo East (renamed 1935), although it ceased to be a true junction in 1911 when the connecting spur across the concourse of the LSWR station was removed.

    See here for more details of the link

  350. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Ah yes, having retrieved my more recent map and working from East to West, we have:

    Stoney St Jn – Where the curve starts at the Cannon St end
    Metropolitan Jn – Where it touches the Charing Cross line
    Blackfriars Jn – Where it ends at the Blackfriars end…

    Waterloo Jn doesn’t appear on this edition (2010)…

  351. Sad Fat Dad says:

    I’m not sure about history, but currently the curve from Cannon St to Met Jn is commonly known as the Met Reversible, whilst the curve(s) from Met Jn to Blackfriars are known as the Blackfriars Spurs.

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