bakerloo-line

Greenwich Wire

Extending the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham could now cost as much as £8 billion, Transport for London has said – but work on the line could start in 2030.

Plans for the Tube extension, which would run from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate, were put on hold in 2021 when the pandemic upended TfL’s finances.

At the time, the cost was put at £4 billion, but a paper to be discussed by TfL’s finance and investment committee next week reveals that the cost has now climbed to between £5 billion and £8 billion. 

A further extension could run to Hayes and Beckenham Junction, replacing the current Southeastern Metro service to Hayes, which has led to opposition from Bromley Council. This would link development sites at Catford and Lower Sydenham into the Tube network. 

TfL says the extension could lead to 50,000 new homes in south-east London, including 20,000 around the Old Kent Road, where retail barns are now being replaced by housing developments. 

While the scheme has been put on hold, work has continued behind the scenes and the land for the extension has been safeguarded from development, with plans to be finalised by the end of next year.

Government funding will be needed if the link is to proceed, and TfL says that if all goes smoothly construction could start as soon as 2030. But the paper warns that a “lack of appetite for mega-projects” is a key risk for the project.

TfL gives a conservative start date of 2040 for the first trains to run, but it adds that could change if work on the extension is linked to a badly-needed upgrade of the existing Bakerloo Line, which also needs funding. 

The existing line, which is served by trains from 1972 and signalling from the 1950s, is so worn out that it is at risk of “sudden critical failure”, a separate report from Central London Forward, a body which represents 11 boroughs including Lewisham and Southwark, says.

A combined upgrade and extension of the line all the way to Hayes would “make much better use of the Bakerloo tunnels that already traverse under our great city”, Central London Forward says, freeing up space on the Jubilee and other lines and creating the capacity for an extra 150,000 journeys. 

Next week’s TfL meeting will also discuss the planned DLR extension to Thamesmead and the area’s new bus network, while potential extensions of the Elizabeth Line will also come under the spotlight – including one from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet.

TfL says its current priority is to invest in more frequent trains  through central London that would also connect to Old Oak Common and HS2. It is also considering more services further west, where overcrowding has been a problem.

But it adds that it has held discussions about further extensions, which also include links beyond Heathrow as well as the Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet link.

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