The long-running saga about whether a new railway station will be built at Beam Park in East London is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, as a decision is not expected now until later this year.

Beam Park station concept image

The station was due to be built on the c2c line near Dagenham Dock as part of a large housing development of 10k to 20k homes, unlocking the potential for many more later.

The station looked as if it was going ahead, with funding secured from the developer to build a modular station to a design approved by Network Rail. However, the Department for Transport expressed concerns about the running costs of a new station on the line.

Candidly, it’s a challenge to understand how a station next to at least 10,000 new homes couldn’t cover its running costs, even factoring in abstraction from their neighbouring stations and the impact an extra station would have on c2c’s timetable. The DfT’s last publically stated position was to require a longer commitment from the GLA to cover the station’s running costs, and the GLA’s was that it would cover any losses for a decade while the housing was being built.

So far, the GLA has committed to offering £32.7 million towards the construction and set-up of the station and an indemnity to cover any potential shortfall in revenue within the first 10 years of operation.

Beam Park site plan

A new analysis of the station’s effect on the railway and the costs of running it is being worked on and is expected to be completed shortly. It had been presumed that once the report was ready, and assuming the report was favourable, the decision-making process would be fairly swift as all sides are well versed in the issues surrounding this long-running saga.

However, a written reply from the Mayor of London to Elly Baker AM has revealed that commercial negotiations to get the station built will “likely continue for the most part of 2024”.

That means if a decision is finally taken, it will be towards the end of this year — and depending on when the General Election is called, there’s even a risk of delaying the decision to next year if it runs into purdah when decisions can’t be announced.

Assuming it’s built, the station is likely to be a skewed platform design, with the Essex (down) platform built to the west of the London (up) platform so that they could be fitted into the tight space available.

The space is tight because it sits right next to the HS1 railway just a few metres to the south. Although there is physical space for the London-bound platform to fit in between the railways, construction will be exceptionally difficult in such a tight space between two live railway lines.

According to a 2009 study by Network Rail, a skewed platform design was the most affordable option when the housing development was only expected to be around 4,000 homes—rather than the 10-20,000 now planned.

Two other more expensive options were considered:

One was to move the c2c Essex-bound railway track a bit northwards to create space for the new station with an island platform between the railway tracks. The other was to move both tracks northwards so that there would be space to build two platforms on either side of them.

The first option would be cheaper, but it would require everyone to share a single staircase/lift to a footbridge to leave the station. Option two would mean at least one side would have a platform directly to the street, with the footbridge only needed for the other platform.

However, both of the alternatives were more expensive than the skewed platform option chosen in 2009.

Proposed layout from 2009 Network Rail report

As the report was commissioned 15 years ago when the housing development was expected to be far smaller, the final decision may be affected by the higher passenger numbers that the station could expect.

When the station was first announced in March 2019, it was expected that construction would start six months later and core construction would be completed within a year. Fit-out time would then add to the timeframe to open the station.

Assuming the timeframes haven’t significantly altered and that the ongoing study and negotiations result in a positive decision later this year — it’s just possible that Beam Park station could finally open around the middle of 2026.



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