A new report by a London lobby group is calling for the Bakerloo line extension to be pushed ahead, even as TfL says that the cost of building the extension has jumped since it was put on hold.

Bakerloo line extension map (c) TfL

The organisation, Central London Forward, a partnership of twelve local authorities, has issued a report highlighting the benefits of the Bakerloo Line Extension (BLE) and how it could create the capacity for an additional 150,000 journeys through central London each day.

The Bakerloo line project can be looked at as two separate tasks.

The line is currently using the UK’s oldest EMU passenger trains, which are now in urgent need of replacement, but when the new fleet of trains is eventually ordered, there will also be upgrade work on the line required to accommodate the new trains.

Then there’s the extension itself – initially from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham and eventually to Hayes.

TfL says that the BLE could deliver 50,000 homes, of which 20,000 would be in central London, along the Old Kent Road corridor, and CLF says that would amount to some £1.5 billion per year in economic benefits for the UK.

However, at the same time, a new report from Transport for London (TfL) says that the cost of the extension has risen sharply since it was first announced in 2014 from around £2-£3 billion to between £5-£8 billion.

Adding to the higher cost of the extension, as it has been delayed, TfL is estimated to face a cost of circa £500 million keeping the existing Bakerloo line fleet operating until the upgrade opens. A cost that would have been much lower if construction work had started by now, as had been originally expected.

Bakerloo line train overhaul (c) TfL

The Bakerloo line trains, designed to work for 36 years, are now over 50 years old and likely to be well into human retirement age when they are finally replaced with the new trains — probably built by Siemens Mobility in Yorkshire.

It’s a quirk of how transport projects are delivered that while Londoners undeniably gain better transport, most of the money spent on it is spent in the supply chain outside London. So what is often accused of being “more spending in London” is actually more spending outside London.

Considering that nearly half of the people along the Bakerloo line live in the top 30% of most deprived neighbourhoods in England, there’s a strong argument that it qualifies for investment as part of the UK-wide levelling up agenda, which aims to shrink the poverty gap.

The report by the CLF suggests that the new housing and investment along the extension would lead to nearly £600 million in extra spending by new residents each year, creating local jobs and investment in an area that’s lacked much of either.

However, while most of the arguments in favour of building the Bakerloo line extension are well honed, TfL still needs to make fresh arguments for government support to build the line.

Much of the funding will come from developer contributions and local taxes and borrowing against future fares revenue, but those alone can’t cover the full cost, and it’s expected that the government would need to provide a grant to cover the upfront costs of building the line.

That makes it as much a political decision as an economic one.

Assuming the government agrees to the investment, TfL is aiming for construction to start in 2030 and open in 2040.

Even then, it’s quite likely that someone born when the current Bakerloo line trains were first introduced will be collecting their pension when the replacement trains finally arrive.

The CLF report is here.


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  1. Keith says:

    I can’t see anything proceeding until at least the May mayoral elections, or more likely after the next general election with a possible change of government. A cynical person might suggest the government position with TFL over funding agreements in recent years has in part been an attempt to undermine Sadiq Khan’s re-election potential.

    Hopefully when TFL does work to support the new trains (whenever they arrive) they do the comparatively smaller work to connect Elephant and Castle up to new station entrance.

  2. NG says:

    NOT with this misgovernment
    Delay so that it costs more, then blame TfL & the mayor for doing nothing, whilst squeezing the money supply even more.
    Anyway it’s a railway & Rish! flies everywhere …..

    • Reaper says:

      TfL and swift action are two sets of words you seldom, if ever see in the same sentence. Along with TfL and cost effective

  3. JW says:

    In principle, the Bakerloo extension proposal extending to Lewisham and SE London looks to be a very useful addition to the tube system. The connection at New Cross Gate overground station as well as with E&C would also significantly improve connectivity from SE London to NW London.

    The funding costs seems very high given the distance and the addition of a few stations, and some may raise whether the government funding would be better used to improve rail travel in northern England. One would hope that this extension could be constructed in less than a decade.

    Lets hope this project receives the green light by whoever is elected as the next UK government.

  4. Nick Coo.bs says:

    For those that don’t know we have a perfect rail line from Hayes via Lewisham to charing Cross.
    I would like to know what is to be gained by turning that I to the bakerloo line??
    To Lewisham fine but all that upheaval to Hayes, why?

    • ianVisits says:

      Because not everyone wants to go from Lewisham to Charing Cross — for example, someone living on the Old Kent Road would find it much easier to commute to work in Lewisham if transport is improved.

  5. Chris Rogers says:

    That the Bakerloo line stock is 20 years older than the Central Line’s but still running – no matter how patched – shows just how bad the latter is as a design, obvious from the start…

  6. lill says:

    LONDON infrastructure is seriously behind compared to rest of the world, it will soon digress so much if it does keep itself on the toes, this extension was supposed to start in 2023 and finish in 2030!

    • ianVisits says:

      While London’s infrastructure is far from perfect – it’s still vastly better than you would find in most cities. London is easily in the top 1% of global cities for the quality of public transport.

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