After years of promises, I am not counting my tube stations until they hatch.
The responses to the Bakerloo line extension consultation have been positive and we can be quietly content that the hard working people at TfL, including my predecessor Val Shawcross, are moving closer to extending the line and helping with the regeneration of Old Kent Road and beyond. These are exciting times for Southwark indeed.
Transport has always been a problem in Southwark. We have a disjointed rail network run by separately by the same company, Govia Thameslink. These services seem to mostly serve commuters from outside the London area. We have an Overground service which runs only every 15 minutes with a Jubilee service which glides into the very north of the Borough. Our most important service is our desperately overcrowded buses on packed, polluted roads.
The northern boroughs are lucky with a complex web of tube lines and Overground services while we have the Victoria Line and Bakerloo line halting in zones 1 and 2. It reminds me of the feeling you get when you go down stairs but there were less steps than you thought. South London is always brought short by its underground network.
As excited as we are about the Bakerloo Line extension, it has also been disappointing to many.
This is especially true of the hard-pressed commuters from Peckham and Camberwell. They were hoping for some relief from the overcrowded bus and rail services only to see the extension sail past to Lewisham.
In fact, when you look at the map the new line will slice across the Borough rather than serve it. The southern population centres are still left without fast convenient transport services forming an obvious transport desert island in the TfL map.
We need to think creatively about how we resolve these issues. Bringing the rail network into TfL control is a start, this will be the only way of getting regular Metro services into central London.
Improving the connection between Bakerloo, Northern and main line services at Elephant and Castle would really help physically plug some of our southern centres into the underground network.
We should do an audit of all disused train stations to see which could be re-opened. For small platforms at non connecting stations we easily reactivate the service with a small running cost, such as Camberwell Station on main line services. And this is just off the top of my head.
With the Bakerloo line heading South East and Crossrail 2 heading South West Southwark’s most densely populated areas seem to be missing out. Let’s think creatively and start to open South Southwark up to the rest of the city.