TfL wants to bring construction forward – but where will the Bakerloo line extension actually go?

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

Transport for London just released its new business plan. It promises various dull-but-worthy administrative reorganisations in search of financial savings, shuffles various station upgrade plans around the schedule (Camden Town, Holborn), and includes £20m set aside to develop a plan for rail devolution just in case Chris Grayling has an unexpected change of heart.

The most exciting bit, though, is that it confirms plans to extend the Bakerloo line to the south east through a newly bored tunnel. That’s actually been the plan since last December – but TfL have brought it forward, and now reckon that, instead of getting it done by 2030, it might be finished for 2028-9.

What with one thing and another, all this remains a bit theoretical, but nonetheless, here’s the map:

It’s hard to imagine the station names “Old Kent Road 1” and “Old Kent Road 2” surviving contact with the enemy, though. So what else might they be called?

One possibility – the boring possibility – would be simply “Old Kent Road North” and “Old Kent Road South”. This would have the virtue of clarity, I suppose, but I can’t bear stations named after roads, and it would in any case also be unbelievably dull.

So what else might they be called? Let’s assume for a moment – perhaps optimistically – that this map is intended as literal, and that the points marked on it represent actual proposed station locations, rather than simply a vague aspiration to have two stations somewhere on the Old Kent Road. Do that and, best I can tell – comparing the station to the position of the Thames, borough boundaries, and so forth – the two new stations are roughly where I’ve placed the two black stars on this map:

The northern stop looks to be somewhere in the vicinity of the big Tescos by the junction with Albany Road. Buses terminating around there used to refer to that junction as “Old Kent Road / Dun Cow” after a long dead pub. (It’s now a doctor’s surgery.) But they don’t often do that any more, instead defaulting to “Old Kent Road / Tesco”, and no way are Tesco getting their name on a tube stop on my watch.

So a more sensible name would probably be “Burgess Park”, after, well, guess. It’s not ideal – the park in question is nearly a mile wide, its western edge lying all the way over on the Walworth Road – but it’s a nice park more people should know about, and Dun Cow is a stupid name for a tube stop.

A map of Burgess Park. Image: Open Street Map/Dan Karran.

The southern one is easier, albeit sillier: the junction with Peckham Park Road still revels in the name “Canal Bridge”, as this was once the point where the Old Kent Road crossed the Grand Surrey Canal.

The canal in question is long gone: its route through Burgess Park is now a cycle path, its previous role visible only in the occasional, slightly vexing iron bridge. But the junction still goes by that name, and there is something wonderfully London-appropriate about naming a new tube stop after a canal that’s not there any more.

So, if I had my way, here’s how the bottom of the Bakerloo line will look, c2030:

It won’t, of course. I’m almost certainly reading more detail into that map than it actually contains. And there’s already a campaign to add a third Old Kent Road stop at the very top of the road: Bricklayers Arms, another long dead pub, which gave its name to a long dead freight terminal and latterly a big roundabout with a flyover.

So, no, for those and no doubt other reasons, my map is almost certainly wrong. But I got to draw a map, that’s the important thing. I like maps.

Maps.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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What's actually in the UK government’s bailout package for Transport for London?

Wood Green Underground station, north London. Image: Getty.

On 14 May, hours before London’s transport authority ran out of money, the British government agreed to a financial rescue package. Many details of that bailout – its size, the fact it was roughly two-thirds cash and one-third loan, many conditions attached – have been known about for weeks. 

But the information was filtered through spokespeople, because the exact terms of the deal had not been published. This was clearly a source of frustration for London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, who stood to take the political heat for some of the ensuing cuts (to free travel for the old or young, say), but had no way of backing up his contention that the British government made him do it.

That changed Tuesday when Transport for London published this month's board papers, which include a copy of the letter in which transport secretary Grant Shapps sets out the exact terms of the bailout deal. You can read the whole thing here, if you’re so minded, but here are the three big things revealed in the new disclosure.

Firstly, there’s some flexibility in the size of the deal. The bailout was reported to be worth £1.6 billion, significantly less than the £1.9 billion that TfL wanted. In his letter, Shapps spells it out: “To the extent that the actual funding shortfall is greater or lesser than £1.6bn then the amount of Extraordinary Grant and TfL borrowing will increase pro rata, up to a maximum of £1.9bn in aggregate or reduce pro rata accordingly”. 

To put that in English, London’s transport network will not be grinding to a halt because the government didn’t believe TfL about how much money it would need. Up to a point, the money will be available without further negotiations.

The second big takeaway from these board papers is that negotiations will be going on anyway. This bail out is meant to keep TfL rolling until 17 October; but because the agency gets around three-quarters of its revenues from fares, and because the pandemic means fares are likely to be depressed for the foreseeable future, it’s not clear what is meant to happen after that. Social distancing, the board papers note, means that the network will only be able to handle 13 to 20% of normal passenger numbers, even when every service is running.


Shapps’ letter doesn’t answer this question, but it does at least give a sense of when an answer may be forthcoming. It promises “an immediate and broad ranging government-led review of TfL’s future financial position and future financial structure”, which will publish detailed recommendations by the end of August. That will take in fares, operating efficiencies, capital expenditure, “the current fiscal devolution arrangements” – basically, everything. 

The third thing we leaned from that letter is that, to the first approximation, every change to London’s transport policy that is now being rushed through was an explicit condition of this deal. Segregated cycle lanes, pavement extensions and road closures? All in there. So are the suspension of free travel for people under 18, or free peak-hours travel for those over 60. So are increases in the level of the congestion charge.

Many of these changes may be unpopular, but we now know they are not being embraced by London’s mayor entirely on their own merit: They’re being pushed by the Department of Transport as a condition of receiving the bailout. No wonder Khan was miffed that the latter hadn’t been published.

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