Extend Bakerloo Line to Charlton, Canary Wharf’s owners demand

Waterloo Bakerloo line platforms
Waterloo tube station – could there be a Bakerloo Line link to Charlton? (Photo: Daniel Wright via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Transport for London’s proposed Bakerloo Line extension should run via Canary Wharf to Charlton, the owners of the giant Isle of Dogs development have said.

Current plans see the Tube line extended from Elephant & Castle via the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate to Lewisham, with as long-term aim to take it onto Catford and Hayes.

But Canary Wharf Group (CWG) has called for the route to be diverted to Surrey Quays to serve a giant new development there, before running to Canary Wharf and Charlton.

It says the current Jubilee Line will not be able to cope with demand from the new Canada Water scheme, which if approved see 3,000 new homes, two million square feet of workspace and one million square feet of retail, leisure, entertainment and community space built on the Rotherhithe Peninsula, on land including the Surrey Quays shopping centre and the former Daily Mail printworks.

The call, first spotted by community website SE16.com, comes in response to a Southwark Council consultation on the Canada Water masterplan.

CWG compares the Canada Water scheme with the huge development at Battersea Power Station, which is getting its own Northern Line extension.

“In considering the Canada Water Masterplan proposals we would like to remind you of our previous proposal to extend the Bakerloo line from Elephant & Castle to Charlton via Surrey Quays and Canary Wharf,” CWG’s Jason Larkin says in a letter to Southwark Council planners.

“This scheme would provide significantly improved public transport capacity to the area around Canada Water and on the Isle of Dogs, and would help the development aspirations of both Southwark and Tower Hamlets.”

CWG also says it has outlined a proposal for a new railway from Euston to Canary Wharf via the City.

Canary Wharf’s eyes on Charlton

While this is the first time this particular proposal has been seen in public, it is not the first time Canary Wharf’s developers have proposed a railway to the Charlton area.

In the 1980s, CWG’s predecessor Olympia & York proposed a £400 million Waterloo & Greenwich Railway, which would have run to Canary Wharf and terminated at Westcombe Park. While London Transport eventually plumped for a Jubilee Line extension which took a route north to Stratford, O&Y still invested £400 million into the project.

In 2002, it was suggested that Crossrail could run from Canary Wharf to Charlton, Woolwich and Abbey Wood – but a route via the Royal Docks was chosen instead.

Earlier this year, Greenwich Council released a draft transport strategy which included a Bakerloo Line route to Charlton Riverside – despite the current Lewisham plans being reasonably far advanced.

Don’t hold your breath – but…

Of course, Canary Wharf Group doesn’t want a Tube to Charlton out of pure love for the area – this part of town contains a lot of underused land that could make a useful place to dig a big hole and build a place for trains to turn around (including the old rail depot between Westcombe Park and Charlton stations).

Charlton residents keen on a quick link to Canary Wharf probably shouldn’t hold their breath. The Lewisham extension ticks off City Hall goals of linking “opportunity areas” for redevelopment at Old Kent Road, New Cross, Lewisham, and – perhaps – Catford. Lewisham and Southwark councils have recently launched a campaign to get the scheme funded.

And much of Charlton will be within an easy bus ride of a Lewisham Bakerloo line terminal (although so will half of south east London), so SE7 will benefit in some way from a link to SE13.

Yet – Canary Wharf Group is a big player and can get what it wants (and has the money to pay towards it). And Canada Water and Charlton Riverside are also “opportunity areas”. Remember it has also called for a new link between Euston and Canary Wharf – where are those trains going to turn around? This story may be around for a while yet.

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