Inner South West London has Clapham Junction as a key interchange. Inner North East London has Stratford. But Inner South East London doesn't have anything that matches the pattern. This blog looks at some of the options.
A key interchange for inner South East London
The key rationale for enhancing and creating key interchanges around central London is to encourage more travellers to avoid the city centre. With the ever increasing number of travellers expected in the next 20 years and limited funds, developing stations and routes outside the centre (like London Overground) look appealing.
Clapham Junction has long been the model of this, recently seeing major growth through London Overground routes around the core city. Stratford is the equivalent in the North East, which has seen major investment for the Olympics and general redevelopment. If HS2 continues, it is likely that Old Oak Common will become a similar junction for the West of London.
Creating a junction of similar scale for South East London is clearly a long-term project, but the connectivity benefits would be huge, for those travelling around the city centre, or between parts of the suburbs. These are the principal location options that I see for building such an interchange:
- Deptford Park - south of Surrey Quays, where the London Overground crosses the main line to Greenwich, Lewisham and Orpington (Landmann Way)
- New Cross Gate
- New Cross
- Lewisham Junction - where the line from Lewisham to Hayes crosses the main line
The key requirements for this site are to be a major junction station, linking networks in different directions. To achieve this requires a large site and main line services as well as local ones. (A junction of only local services doesn't get passengers from outside London routing around the city core). Its also the case that both Stratford and Clapham Junction have major shopping centres nearby, so that should be seen as a good test as well.
Deptford Park is the "obvious" site. It is already a major rail junction, and with suitable investment could have platforms for main-line trains on both the Thameslink East Croydon route and the South Eastern Orpington route, plus London Overground, all the Dartford locals and Hayes. However, Deptford Park is already scheduled for major work as part of London Overground and the Thameslink project, neither of which are building a station. In effect, the ship has sailed here. Furthermore, the site is perhaps too close to London Bridge - certiainly closer in than Stratford or Clapham Junction. There is no development there at the moment, this no major shopping centre or destination for local traffic.
New Cross Gate would be a reasonable option if a new tunnel was built to take all the Dartford locals (via Lewisham). But even then, it misses out on the opportunity to grab South Eastern main-line pasengers before London Bridge. I'm also uncertain that there is enough land there, and there is no major shopping centre.
New Cross is already a junction, but its hard to see what adding more services to it would achieve. There are limitations in available land, and there is no major shopping centre
Lewisham is already a key junction between the DLR and the lines to Blackheath, Hayes and Hither Green. It is however a badly laid out station with a horrendous junction that limits train frequency. The site is near a major shopping centre, although the shopping centre does rather turn its back on the station. It is a site with some ability to grow, but I cannot see how it could become a major junction towards the scale of Clapham Junction or Stratford - there simply isn't the room to add the platforms and sort out the junction.
Lewisham Junction would be a new station located where the Hayes line runs under the South Eastern main-line to Orpington, and where there are links from Hayes to the main-line and from Lewisham to Hither Green. The site is near a major shopping centre (its as close to Lewisham, if not closer, as the current Lewisham station). And the site has lots of land available - there is lots of existing railway land, plus a large council depot right next door.
In practical terms, I suspect that only Deptford Park and Lewisham Junction have the necessary land available to build a suitable large station. But Lewisham Junction wins the prize by being near an existing shopping centre, as well as a large parcel of land that has the potential to be developed (providing cash to find the project).
Building a new major rail interchange is not a simple task. Locating it near an existing destination helps provide the initial boost it needs, especially if it enables a major redevelopment project.
Do you have another location where a junction in South East London could go?