TfL just unveiled its proposals to bring Bakerloo line stations to the Old Kent Road

All stops to Lewisham: a Bakerloo line train. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

The thing about building new underground railways these days is that it does tend to take a while. The Jubilee line that opened in 1979 was meant to be just the first phase of a route that would run along Fleet Street, finally provide a tube station for Fenchurch Street, and then continue down to Lewisham. An extension did eventually open – but not for another 20 years, and it didn't go to any of those places.

Across the Atlantic, the first stretch of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway route finally opened to passengers on 1 January this year – a mere 98 years after the route was first proposed.

One side effect of these endlessly elongated processes is that transport authorities end up publishing a lot of different planning documents, each very slightly different from the last. This not only serves to create an illusion of progress, it also provides opportunities for clickbait-y train-loving websites like yours truly to write slight variants on stories they've already done.

So, let's do it.

In December 2015 Transport for London confirmed that it hoped to extend the Bakerloo line south eastwards, down the Old Kent Road to New Cross and Lewisham by 2030. Last December, when it said it might actually manage it by 2028-9 instead (sure you will, TfL), I squinted very hard at a very blurry map, and wrote this piece speculating that the two new stations on the Old Kent Road would be by the big Tescos, and by the Canal Bridge junction, respectively.

So I am gratified, nay smug, to note that the consultation publicised today confirms that I was very nearly right – at least 75 per cent right, which is definitely more right than wrong. Which just goes to show that you people should pay more attention to what I say about stuff, that's all I'm saying.

Anyway. Here's the proposed route map:

These are the two options for the Old Kent Road 1 station. But basically they're just either side of Dunton Road, which is where I guessed it'd be, so I'm counting this a win:

I'm still calling this "Burgess Park", but "Old Kent Road North", "East Walworth" or "Dun Cow" probably work too. Over on Twitter, the Independent’s Jon Stone also suggests “Mandela” which would be rather lovely.

The two options for the Old Kent Road 2 station are actually a bit more geographically distinct:

To put that in context...

This complicates the name debate a bit, since only the northern one of those is at the Canal Bridge junction. For the other,"Old Kent Road South", “Peckham North” or "Asylum Road” might do the job.

The other stops on the route – New Cross Gate, Lewisham – are existing stations so we know where they are already. There are also some shafts, but who cares about shafts, really.


Anyway. If you have strong views about any of this, the consultation runs until 21 April. And we'll be back to this topic next time TfL put out a very slightly different map.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason.

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Where did London’s parakeets come from?

Parakeets in the skies above Wormwood Scrubs, west London. Image: Getty.

Visitors to London’s many green spaces would have to be stubbornly looking at their feet to not see one of the UK’s most exotic birds.  Dubbed “posh pigeons” by unimaginative Londoners, these brilliant green parakeets stand out among the fauna of Northern Europe’s mostly grey cities.

‘Parakeets’ is actually an umbrella term referring to the multiple species, which can now be found in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and various German cities. By far the most common is the Indian ring-necked parakeet, easily recognisable by the stylish red ring around their neck, a matching red beak and, of course, the loud squawking.

In the last 50 years these migrants from South Asia have arrived and thrived, settling into their own ecological niche. In the UK, London is a particular stronghold, but although they may have originally settled in the leafy streets of Twickenham, the birds can now be found in cities as far north as Glasgow.

The story of how they ended up in London is a matter of some discussion and plenty of myth. One often reported theory is that the capitals’ current population are the descendants of birds that escaped from Shepperton Studios during filming of The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Others would tell you that they escaped from Syon Park in the early 1970s, when a piece of debris from a passing plane damaged the aviary and allowed them to escape. This chimes with their original concentration in South West London.
My favourite story by far is that they were released by Jimi Hendrix on Carnaby Street in the late 60s. Bored of London’s grey skyline, he set the little fellas free to liven up the place.

However they got here, from 1970 onwards their numbers boomed. In 1992, 700 birds were recorded in London Bird Report. By 1998, 2,845 were seen in the London Area, and by 2006 the ring-neck parakeet was 15th most sighted bird in London.


Darwin would be proud at how well they adapted to the new environment. Toughened up by the hard Himalayan climate, they handle the cold northern European winters better than most locals. Global warming is often brought up in discussions of the parakeets, but it is certainly only part of the story.
It helps, too, that the birds have a 35 year lifespan and few local predators, enabling them to breed freely.

As with any new species, the debate has raged about whether they are harmful to the ecosystem. Strangely reminiscent of the debate over human migrants, often the birds have often been accused of stealing the homes of the natives. The parakeets do nest in tree cavities also used by jackdaws, owls and woodpeckers – but there is little evidence that native species are being muscled out. 

The also provide a food source for Britain's embattled birds of prey. Owls and peregrine falcons have been know to eat them. Charlie and Tom, two city dwelling falcons monitored by Nathalie Mahieu, often bring back parakeets as food.
Of more concern is the new arrivals’ effect on plants and trees. By 2009 their numbers in the UK had grown so much that they were added to the “general licence” of species, which can be killed without individual permission if they are causing damage.

And Parrotnet, am EU funded research project studying the development of parakeet populations across Europe, has warned of the risk they pose to agriculture. In their native India, the parakeets are known to cause widespread damage to crops. As agriculture develops in the UK in line with warmer climates, crops such as maize, grapes and sunflower will become more popular. In India the birds have been documented as reducing maize crops by 81 per cent.

So the parakeets remain divisive. Environmentalist Tony Juniper has disparagingly described them as “the grey squirrel of the skies”. By contrast, the University of York biologist Chris D. Thomas has argued that the parakeets should be left free to move and breed. He sees those wary of the parakeet boom of “irrational persecution” of the bird.

For good or ill the parakeets are here to stay. As so often with migrants of all kinds, there has been some unease about the impact they have had – but the birds, popular amongst Londoners, certainly add colour to the city. Thriving in the urban environment thousands of miles from their natural habitat, they are a metropolitan bird for Europe’s metropolitan cities. 

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