The Bakerloo line extension: how, where, why, when? Here's the latest on the troubled TfL project.
What is the Bakerloo line extension anyway?
The Bakerloo line currently terminates in the south at Elephant and Castle. (When you're next there, look out for the southbound sidings, which is where any new extension would start out from.)
An extension was announced by TfL in 2017; the plan is to extend the line south east to Lewisham via Old Kent Road (which would have two new stations built along it) and New Cross Gate.
There would be options for a further southbound extension from Lewisham to Hayes and Beckenham Junction later on.
What are the benefits of a Bakerloo line extension?
Apart from the obvious ones (improved tube capacity; better connections for south Londoners), boons would include a new (and much needed) Bakerloo line ticket hall at Elephant and Castle; improved interchanges at New Cross Gate and Lewisham, making it easier to switch to various National Rail, DLR and bus services; and possibly congestion relief along the fume-choked Old Kent Road.
So the extension won't go via Camberwell and Peckham?
Nope. Plans for an extension in this direction have been mooted for decades; in the mid-1930s there was talk of extending the line to Dartford via Camberwell and Peckham. Similar plans were revisited in the 1970s. Neither happened, of course. Following TfL's 2017 consultation, the Camberwell-Peckham route was again given short shrift, in favour of the Old Kent Road route. Sorry Peckhamites.
(This video's from 2019, at a time when it was hoped the extension would be completed by 2029).
What will the Bakerloo line stations at Old Kent Road be called?
It's most likely that the two new stations along the Old Kent Road will be located at the Tesco by Dunton Road bus stop (holding name: Old Kent Road 1), and on the site of the old Toys R Us (Old Kent Road 2). A public consultation [pdf] was held in 2019 to determine the names — with a majority of 59% of people voting for Old Kent Road 1 to become Burgess Park, and a majority of 32% voting for Old Kent Road 2 to be, simply, Old Kent Road. These seem the most likely names, then.
When will the Bakerloo line extension open?
Ah. It was supposed to be fully running by 2029. But that's unlikely now, because...
Does TfL have the money for a Bakerloo line extension?
At the time of writing (January 2022) the answer is a blunt 'no'. Crossrail is infamously years overdue, and about £1.5 billion over budget. The pandemic caused a 95% drop in TfL passenger numbers — which it's still reeling from. Then there's the perceived lack of government funding; as recently as November 2021, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan even suggested the entire Bakerloo line would have to close if the government didn't fork out more cash to help London's public transport woes.
So the Bakerloo line extension is paused indefinitely?
It's on hold, yes. To put it mildly.
"TfL is not requesting new additions to the network. Schemes like Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension, though worthwhile, are now completely out of reach." That's what Sadiq Khan wrote in the Financial Times in November 2021. Stark words indeed.
Mee Ling Ng, a member of Transport for London's board, also admitted: "I doubt I will see the extension of the Bakerloo line in my lifetime..." Yikes.
Will the Bakerloo line extension ever actually happen then?
Hopefully, yes. It kind of needs to — for the sake of the environment, to make the most of new housing developments, and because an ever-swelling London demands improved transport connections.
What's more, a fair few million have already been splashed on the £3.1 billion plan. Detailed tunnel designs continue to be worked on. And the land required for the extension to go ahead has been safeguarded. (That said, the land for Crossrail has been safeguarded since 1991, so...)
By the way, will there be new Bakerloo line trains anytime soon?
The current Bakerloo line stock dates back to 1972 — older than Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. And although we do love these rattly old things, the 36 trains do need replacing. That won't happen before the Piccadilly line train gets its new Inspiro London trains (ETA 2025). And that's very optimistic; in November 2021, TfL said that with government funding continuing as it is, the stock wouldn't be upgraded for at least 20 years. (The government in turn accused TfL of "needless sabre-rattling.)
The Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham via Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate was supposed to open in 2029 but is now on hold indefinitely. It probably will happen at some point, but don't hold your breath.