Long mooted plans to create a cross-river rail link across the Thames in East London are being looked at by TfL.
The impetus is in part due to a 30-year plan to built 11,500 additional homes in the Thamesmead area by the housing association, Peabody, but also to improve transport links in an area that generally lacks them.
A presentation by TfL to Greenwich Council included one slide showing a range of possible transport options. As tantalizing as it might be, it’s highly unlikely that all of them would be built as the aim would be to develop either the DLR or the London Overground link.
There are two core options being looked at:
The under construction extension of the London Overground to Barking Riverside also includes passive provision for an extension southwards over (or under) the river to Thamesmead.
Although it had been presumed that this would be a single stop, the map presented by TfL includes extending it to the mainline railway as well, linking up at either Plumstead, Abbey Wood or Belvedere.
Links at Plumstead or Belvedere would have the potential to also then run Overground trains along the Southeastern routes, and of the two Plumstead would be the easiest to link up with thanks to there being enough land around the station to use for the necessary flyover.
A link to Abbey Wood offers a connection with the Elizabeth line, but there is very little space to put the additional platforms, and it would be almost impossible to link the railways to allow Overground trains onto the existing railway, unless the Overground was to follow the DLR route mentioned below.
However, the Overground routes all offer just one additional station in the heart of Thamesmead, away from the planned new housing developments.
The DLR options could see up to four additional stations added along one of two main extension routes.
One option would see the DLR providing an additional station on the north side of the Thames, at the proposed housing development of Armada Riverside, at Gallions Reach.
The other option would see the DLR loop southwards and adding a new station at Thamesmead West – then both lines link up at Thamesmead Central and then on to a station at Thamesmead Moorings.
Here three options could see the DLR take one of two routes to Abbey Wood, or head out towards Belvedere via another station to be built at Yarnton Way.
The DLR option offers far more connections to the railway than the London Overground, but at the cost of requiring additional dedicated platforms for interchange at either Abbey Wood or Belvedere.
The DLR route that offers a connection to Abbey Wood also passes through a long length of public park land fronted by housing blocks, and might prove more problematic to secure planning permission for.
Although not directly related to this extension, the TfL map also shows a hint of a DLR extension up towards Barking, which is supported by a slightly larger map from the Thames Estuary Partnership in Nov 2017.
Although Peabody, who are building the Thamesmead housing can be expected to strongly favour the DLR options with additional stations, whether they get the station at Thamesmead West will depend on how strongly the owners of the Gallions Reach shopping centre are able to argue for their preferred station at Beckton.
The presentation by Peabody of what their new housing development could look like also includes an image of a potential DLR station, although the location in the site isn’t clear. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan instructed TfL in 2016 to carry out detailed work on a DLR crossing connecting east and south-east London.
However, funding has not yet been secured for any additional rail links.