TfL rejects calls for extra station and better names on the Bakerloo line extension

Bakerloo line trains at London Road depot, mournfully wishing they could continue their journey to the south. Image: Getty.

So, the good news is: Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed long-awaited plans for a southward extension of the Bakerloo line.

The bad news is: in doing so, it’s ruled out the extra station campaigners had been pushing for, and is still ignoring suggestions for a frankly amazing set of station names.

Plans to extend the Bakerloo have been dribbling along for some time now. It’s the odd one out on the existing network because, while most lines extend from central London in both directions, the Bakerloo runs all the way to zone 5 in the north but never leaves zone 1 in the south. (The Jubilee once did much the same, and that was extended 20 years ago.) Its southern terminus also lies at the edge of the great south London tube and rail desert: an area between the Northern line, Bermondsey and Peckham which lies within a couple of miles of central London but is a right pain in the bum to get to.

The great tube and rail desert. Inside the yellow box, there are basically no stations in walking distance. Image:  Google Maps/CityMetric.

And so, there is both motive and opportunity for this project: the line isn’t already full, and an extension would go somewhere useful. What’s more, the Old Kent Road has a fair amount of land where you could put more houses, which new tube stations would unlock. This, one suspects, is the reason that the New Cross Gate/Lewisham got approved, rather than the Camberwell/Peckham one.

So here’s a very vague map of phase 1:

Phase 1. Image: TfL.

The two “Old Kent Road” stops are not very usefully named, and the map is unhelpfully vague. But they would, TfL, says, be at (1) the junction between Dunton Road and Humphrey Street, and (2) the junction with Asylum Road.

The tube/rail desert, with the rough location of the new stations marked. Image: Google Maps.

If it goes ahead, TfL claims, it’ll open by 2029, and help create 25,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs. Phase two would swallow the Catford and Hayes line, currently operated by Southeastern.

This is all brilliant, isn’t it? It’s brilliant, and frankly anyone from any other British city would be well within their rights to punch any Londoner that whined about it.

But whining about London’s world-class transport system is what this entire website was built on and I’m not going to stop now, and if that induces a certain amount of punching I guess I’ll just have to accept it. And also, this week, Southwark council sent me this map, illustrating its own version of the plan and it’s just... better:

 

Ahhhh. Image: LB Southwark.

There are two reasons I prefer this. One is that extra station, Bricklayers Arms. TfL says this isn’t necessary, on the grounds it’s within a few minutes’ walk of both Elephant & Castle and Borough.

But while that’s true, and I’m sure they’ve run the numbers and stuff, it’s worth noting that the Bricklayers Arms is only a mile from the City and under two from Westminster and the West End. This would be a great spot to increase population density, so we should maybe build the transport capacity that would enable you to do that.

The other reason that this map is better is the names. None of these “Old Kent Road 1 (TBC) nonsense. Instead we get Burgess Park and Asylum. And how can you not want there to be a tube station called Asylum?

Here’s another map of this proposed extension, courtesy of the Back The Bakerloo campaign website:

Southwark council has pledged to continue fighting TfL for the extra station. We shall see.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites


 

 
 
 
 

The media scumbag’s route of choice: A personal history of London’s C2 bus

A C2 bus at Parliament Hill. Image: David Howard/Wikimedia Commons.

London’s C2 bus route, which runs from Parliament Hill, by Hampstead Heath, down to Conduit Street, just off Regent Street, is one of the bus routes recently earmarked for the chop. It has oft been noted that, of all the routes recently pencilled in for cancellation after a consultation late last year, it was the one most likely to survive, for the simple reason that it links liberal suburban north London with BBC Broadcasting House and Soho; it’s thus the route most likely to be used by people who can convince someone to let them report on its imminent demise.

So it would come as no surprise that former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger took to the Camden New Journal when the consultation began, arguing that it would be a disservice to the local community to discontinue a route where you can always get a seat – seemingly missing the point that the fact you can always get a seat is not a great sign of the route’s usefulness.

It wasn’t always that way. When I left university in 2000, and moved from accommodation near college to up to a rented shared house in N6, the C2 was my bus. I commuted to Soho for sixteen years: for more than a decade from flats around the Swain’s Lane roundabout, and for five years from Kentish Town. While my place of work bounced around from Golden Square to Lexington Street to Great Marlborough, it was always the most convenient way to get to, and from, work; especially given the difference between bus and tube prices.

So when it comes to the C2 I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, and bought the bus pass. And by bus pass, I mean those little paper ones that still existed at the beginning of this century. Not just before contactless, but before Oyster cards.

More importantly, it was before London buses operated a single zone. There was an outer zone, and an inner zone, with different prices. To travel from one zone to another cost £1.30, meaning an all cash commute was £2.60, whereas a paper bus pass was £2.00. That made it worth your while to divert to an early opening newsagents on your way to the bus stop (GK, in my case), even if you only got two buses a day.

It’s a measure of how greatly London’s buses have improved over the last twenty years, since first brought under control of the mayoralty, that pretty much everything about this anecdotage, including the prices, seems faintly mad. But there’s more: back when I started getting that bus down to Stop N, literally at the very end of the route, the C2 used single decker buses with a single door. It’s an appalling design for use in a crowded city, which meant most of any journey was, for most passengers, spent fighting your way up and down the middle of the bus to find a seat, and then back again to get off; or – and this was more likely – fighting your way up the bus to get into standing space the driver insisted was there, before fighting your way, etc.

Such buses – and in my former life in the English Midlands I went to school on one of these buses every day – are perfectly functional where bus stops are infrequent and buses rarely standing room only. But running through Camden Town at rush hour, they’re wholly unfit for purpose.

A Citypacer. Image: RXUYDC/Wikimedia Commons.

It could have been worse. I didn’t know this at the time, but a few years before the C2 route had been run using Optare City Pacers. Those are, let us be frank, not really buses at all, but minibuses. That’s something the reveals the C2’s origins, as a hopper route to the west end largely intended for the daytime use of Gospel Oak’s pensioners in the years immediately before bus privatisation. (The C11 has a similar origin, taking the same constituency from Archway to England’s Lane.)

Once responsibility for London Buses was moved to the newly established mayoralty, things improved dramatically. Under Ken Livingstone it went double decker in 2005, and 24 hour in 2007. Under Boris Johnson it was extended from its once, and future, terminus of Conduit Street to Victoria Station, swallowing up the cancelled sections of the 8 bus; this extension was quietly disposed of a few years later, once it was clear no one would notice. (I did.)


In those years I must have taken a C2 the best part of ten thousand times; but for all the years when I wouldn’t have been able to live without the C2, times have reduced its utility, and not just for me. I’m now a 214 sort of guy: these days the top chunk of the C2 route is duplicated exactly by that other bus, which starts up in Highgate Village and, once it gets to Swain’s Lane, follows the same path until the fork of Kentish Town Road and Royal College Street, opposite the long defunct South Kentish Town tube station.

From a few hundred metres below that point, at Camden Gardens, stop C, the 88 starts. That duplicates the rest of the C2’s route, with the exception of the run down Albany Street and onto Great Portland, for much of which the C2 is the only bus.

So the C2, old friend that it is, is pretty redundant in the age of the hopper fare, which allows you to change buses without paying a second fare. That’s even more true now the C2’s otherwise un-serviced stops are being giving over to a re-routed 88, which will pick up the C2’s most northern leg, by not finishing at Camden Gardens anymore and instead going all the way to Parliament Hill Fields. Which will be nice for it.

All this, however, ignores the best reason for getting rid of the C2 (or rather for merging it with the 88, which is what’s actually happening): that first character. The letter. Who wants a bus route with a letter in front of it when even half the night buses don’t have the N anymore? It’s relic of the route’s aforementioned origins as a ‘Camdenhopper’.

That C is twenty five years past its own utility. It’s just untidy. City Metric hates that sort of thing. Get rid.