A Transport for London (TfL) board member has claimed the long-awaited Bakerloo Line extension is unlikely to happen in her lifetime.
Former Lewisham councillor Mee Ling Ng, speaking at the most recent board meeting of London’s transport agency, urged TfL staff to give local authorities and communities more clarity on “what schemes are still in, what schemes are out, what schemes are actually being delayed till the next generation. We’re talking about 20-25 years.
“I doubt I will see the extension of the Bakerloo line in my lifetime… Nevertheless I think that should be one of our ambitions.”
The Bakerloo Line extension, which if built would run from its current terminus at Elephant & Castle south-east to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road area, has been in the works for about twenty years. But Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on TfL’s finances and the extension has been put on hold as part of the agency’s funding agreement with the government.
“We are being realistic about what is affordable over the next decade,” TfL said in September last year. “Very large projects from the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, particularly Crossrail 2 and Bakerloo line extension, are still relevant and aligned to the Department for Transport’s decarbonisation plan.
“However, given current affordability constraints, our immediate priority for these is safeguarding, although they are still likely to be needed in the future to support long-term growth and modal shift in London.”
Without the extension the wide array of new tower blocks planned or proposed for the Old Kent Road area will be left without enough public transport, according to TfL – meaning more plans may be blocked.
In the absence of the Bakerloo line extension, in March this year private company Trampower told the News it was on track to submit a new planning application for its “Southwark Supertram” by the end of 2021 – with a possible launch date of 2025.
The proposed tramline would see a route to run from London Bridge to Denmark Hill via Newington, Elephant and Castle and Walworth.
It is not the first time the company, which claims it can pay for the £70 million new tram line through private finance and not TfL or Southwark Council subsidies, has proposed the idea.
Previous iterations have been discussed in the 2010s and 2019, but have so far failed to make progress despite successful tram schemes being built in several British cities throughout the 90s and 2000s – including Croydon.
In March, a Southwark Council motion that backed exploring new tram lines along a host of other green transport options gained cross-party support.