Transport for London (TfL) is considering extending the London Overground to run into London Bridge station to replace capacity lost when Southern cut services in south London.
In a series of responses to Lewisham Council officials, TfL said that it is aware that there is overcrowding along the Sydenham corridor, particularly in the morning, which has been made more severe by the halving of the Southern service along the line to two trains per hour.
The changes were introduced last September when Southern cut some services due to lower revenues from fares.
However, the reduction of mainline rail services means more people crowd onto London Overground trains in the morning, which is also making TfL’s services more congested.
TfL has been investigating the issue and whether they can run additional services between Crystal Palace to Dalston Junction / Highbury and Islington via Canada Water. However, they are still analysing the plans to ensure any extra trains on the London Overground don’t affect its other services, especially as about half of the route is shared with the Overground’s service to/from Clapham Junction.
However, as Southern isn’t using two slots per hour to run trains to London Bridge, TfL also outlined an option to use the capacity between New Cross Gate and London Bridge that Southern is no longer using to operate London Overground trains up to London Bridge instead. Apart from reducing overcrowding on the Overground, it could also help reduce overcrowding on the Jubilee line at Canada Water.
That option would also avoid the risk of delays at the rail junction where Overground trains from Clapham Junction join the same track as trains from Crystal Palace, but as TfL notes, would “necessitate significant changes to operational arrangements and driver training”
If the London Bridge extension were created, it would likely need approval from the Department for Transport (DfT) to transfer Southern’s paths to TfL, and a public consultation would probably also need to be carried out before any changes could come into effect.
TfL added that there are currently no confirmed timescales for implementing any changes due to the further work they require.