Sunday, 20 April 2008

A walk along East London Line phase 2

With the recent talk of funding for phase 2 of the East London Line extension, it seems a good time to take a look at what it amounts to.

There's an overall route map here. The plan is to reopen just under a mile of long disused track between Surrey Quays on the East London Line and Queens Road Peckham on the South London Line, with a new station at Surrey Canal Road, with trains terminating at Clapham Junction. I've drawn the link and station locations on Google Maps.

The route diverges from the main East London Line just south of Surrey Quays:
This is a temporary junction put in to allow construction materials for the current works to be taken in by rail, but in exactly the same location as the Phase 2 junction will be.

According to the TWA Order the new junction will be grade separated. Southbound trains turning right towards Clapham Junction will pass underneath the track carrying northbound trains from the other branches. Obviously serious construction work will be required to achieve this, and I don't think it could easily be done after the line reopens.

Looking south from the same spot, this is the Silwood Triangle work site. There are a couple of new sidings used for loading construction materials, again built on the route of the phase 2 extension. The ELL currently has no main line connection so there's a dedicated fleet of small diesel locomotives:

The track currently ends there, but the ELL route continues through these arches under the London Bridge-New Cross line, and in the distance the London Bridge-New Cross Gate line:
There were once three tracks here, so there'd still be a spare arch for the footpath.

The line continues on past Millwall's football ground to a footbridge over Surrey Canal Road. This photo is taken from the bridge looking back north:

Crossing over the footbridge you're only about 200 yards west of where the main East London Line also crosses the road at the north end of the New Cross Gate depot site. The TWA Order states the footbridge will be replaced by "a new bridge incorporating a station", meaning Surrey Canal Road station will be build above its namesake.

South of the road there's a large open green space (Bridge House Meadows) that was once enclosed by a triangle of railways:
The East London Line will follow the footpath to the right, on a route closed since 1913. Another single track once turned left - explaining why there were three tracks earlier - connecting to the west side of New Cross Gate station. This route was closed in 1964 but potentially could have done the same job as the New Cross Gate flyover, if there weren't now houses in the way.

Moving on, the ELL route would arrive on the footpath (bottom right) and I think go up onto this remaining bridge abutment:

Climbing up onto the bank puts you within sight of the South London Line:

Then a short walk through woods gets you to the South London Line viaduct:

Which is where trains continue along existing tracks to Clapham Junction. The TWA Order is ambiguous about whether a flat or grade-separated junction is envisaged here, but I'd lean towards flat.

It's hard to imagine a railway passing along here now, as its entirely open as public footpaths, and at the south end passes through a quiet residential neighbourhood. The Transport and Works Order for the branch has already been approved, so there's limited scope for residents to object, but TfL will still require planning permission for the individual structures.


secretlondon said...

Thanks for the photos! I hope they get the money for it.

J said...

Excellant work there?
Nice to see where the route would go.

Do you think the New Cross bratch could be extended via St.Johns, Lewisham, Hither Green (platforms 1+2), Grove Park, then taking over the branch route to Bromley North via Sundridge Park.

This would give access to even more people to reach East and North London quicker and easier.

The only way to get to North London from Bromley is to take National Rail to London Bridge and then Underground service.

Sow what does everyone think?

Carlbob said...

Thanks for the update Mr Thant, very interesting as ever.
Just before Christmas I, to my misfortune, found myself wondering around this area as I had to get to a parcel depot just off Surrey Canal Road. It was a bleak, cold and dark afternoon and it was faintly depressing, but it was quite fascinating just how much railway activity there is in such a small area.

Do you have any info on the other end of ELLX Phase 2, i.e. Clapham Junction? At the moment the SLL goes from Wandsworth Road through to Battersea Park; is it simple enough for this to be linked to Clapham Junction instead? I seem to recall reading that the plan was to reinstate Platform 1 for the Overground - but isn't this completely the wrong side of the station? Is there a feasible way that the Overground could get there?

Mr Thant (Editor) said...

There's existing track all the way to Clapham Junction platforms 1/2. Trains can turn left after Wandsworth Road which takes them under all the other tracks to the bottom of the West London Line, where they can either go straight on to Kensington Olympia or turn left to Clapham Junction.

The route is used by freight a lot and I think one Cross Country train a week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the photos. I had a look around the area a couple of years ago, and it is interesting to see how many different railways there are. However a hundred years ago there were even more.


Tom said...

Is there any plan at any stage to have a stop at Brixton or Loughborough Junction. leaving aside the very long distance between Clapham High Street and Denmark Hill surely the public transport systems that function best are those that are best integrated tube/thameslink etc.

Anonymous said...

j - I think they must have scrubbed direct Bromley North trains because the grove park junction isn't grade separated ie to go from London to Bromley North require trains cross the down lines which causes congestion, longer headways, etc on busy line). I guess grade separation would be expensive, although there is railway land around the site. Also the route would have issues with the flat junctions at Lewisham and Hither Green. But don't get me wrong, a nice idea ;)

carlbob - if you look at various maps (google earth, msn live, etc) or this excellent pre grouping (1912) map;

basically the linking line, allows the SLL (or ELLX) ro reach the other side of Clapham Junction, where empty platform 1 is

tom - in the SL RUS, the space for a high level platform at Brixton will/has been reserved but won't be built in the current time frame (to what 2015/2020ish) due to expense ....

Carlbob said...

Cheers all - I should've been less lazy and checked the maps before posting!

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that the chances of a station being built at Brixton (on the line that ELL 2 will take) are pretty remote. Those lines (called the Atlantic lines, I believe) are on a very tall and narrow viaduct. I think that it would be easier to build new platforms on the other lines (the ex-South-Eastern lines) tha run towards Denmark Hill. These lie between the existing Brixton station and the Brixton recreation centre. ELL couldn't serve such platforms, but it could provide a link from Brixton towards Denmark Hill and Peckham and beyond on the Southeastern services that go that way.


Alan said...

Great work Mr T.
The SLL would be much more useful if it had interchange stations at Brixton and Loughborough Junction, but I don't hold out much hope for either because, whilst TfL are keen on new lines (and I am all in favour of that), they have yet to realise that they also need good, easy to use interchanges if they are to get people out of their cars for cross suburban journeys.

Anonymous said...

i think there are remaints of an up platform on the Chatham lines at Brixton, but i can't see a down.

if i recall correctly services by Southeastern form the Catford Loop line go along the Chatham lines, some must stop at Denmark Hill that would allow interchange....

Brixton and Loughborough Junction are disscussed at the end of always touch out's page ont he project;

Anonymous said...

No there isn't a down platform on the Catford Loop lines at Brixton. Does anyone know if there ever was one?

A new down platform there would need to be canterlevered out over the semi-pedestrianised street that has the recreation centre in it. It would need a separate entrance, similar to the existing up platform. However it seems to me that this is more feasible than building a station on the high viaduct that carries the Atlantic Lines. I think that East Brixton station was where it was (a good bit further east) because of the real difficulties of putting a station on the viaduct.

I would like to see TfL (or someone else) do a real feasibility study of a station on the ELL at Brixton. We might then get a clearer idea of when it might get built. If the answer is never, or not for 25 years, sensible alternatives could then be developed. The present answer, that it might get built if there were the money, is a non-answer that prevents proper development of alternatives.


Mark said...

Can't wait for the station to open near Millwall's ground, it will stop me running the guantlet at South Bermondsey all the time!

Anonymous said...

As I happen to have recently moved back to this area I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this proposed western extension with particular interest to the Surrey Canal Road Station wehich would reduce my current commute to Docklands and the City by some 30+ minutes! I know this may be a stupid question and I am just looking for gut feelings but how likely is this Phase 2 proposal to come to fruition?

Very informative btw thanks for all your efforts.

Mo said...

Hi there, very informative. I'm local to the area. If you do a google image search on the proposed surrey canal road station you can see a small 3d visual by Arups. is there a way of getting more info on this?

Anonymous said...

The northern line should be extended as far as watford as it will do justice to its comuters. people living in watford can only get to central london via rail link to camden or Euston. The slow overground that runs from watford is terrible as it almost takes over an hour to get to camden road station. we are paying so much tax i cannot understand why the public transport is still so bad in some areas, watford is the worst so far. Bus service in watford is just a joke you could be standing for over 30-40 minutes for a bus. I think Watford council really needs to look at the public transport in watford no wonder there is so much traffic everyday morning afternoon you name it.

Andrew said...

Any comments since the news announced on 12 February 2009 that the funding has been secured for the Western Extension to Clapham Junction? I'd be interested in any news on putting in stations at North Battersea, and also Brixton. I can't imagine the train going through Brixton without stopping. It really needs a Brixton stop to put Clapham Junction squarely connected to the Underground system.

Anonymous said...

so presumably the path that leads from Somerfield street to Bridgehouse meadows will not be available as a footpath as the train line will using up this space .

Anonymous said...

They need to keep the footpaths open accross bridgehouse meadows and the Surrey Canal Road.

Anonymous said...

Blimey, those photos have brought memories flooding back!
I was a kid living in Ilderton road during the early seventies and played along that old series of track beds and the old semi drained canal (now Surrey Canal Road). I bet they are now seriously regreting tearing up all those old lines, not to mention draining the canal... Just think of all the heavy freight that could have been taken off the roads! I also remember the old red iron railway bridge that crossed the canal at the point where the proposed station will hopefully be built... God knows how we never killed ourselves playing on it!

Anonymous said...

Some great photos and interesting comments. Yes, highly unlikely a station could be built on the Brixton Viaduct on the Atlantic Line (to become part of London Overground). It would be an excellent interchange but if you've seen how high up and narrow it is, you can easily the engineering problems.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info, I am glad that trains are running along there again, after reading the history of the Surrey Docks, Bricklayers Arms etc. Pity poor old Battersea station was bombed, its only 2 mins from my house, now I have to walk to CLJ! Great photos too.