The government has approved transport upgrade funding along the London Overground for more frequent trains and a new station at Surrey Canal Road, to unlock additional housing developments.

In a statement, the government agreed to requests for £80.8 million from the GLA to support transport upgrades so that 14,000 homes can be built along the East London Line. The funding comes from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which was set up in 2016 and funds transport upgrades that would be needed to allow additional housing to be built, such as more trains, new stations, or roads.

The value of the HIF is around £5.5 billion, and with the latest announcements, is now fully allocated.

TfL and the GLA have previously been allocated funding for transport upgrades under the scheme, for the DLR, to unlock some 18,000 new homes, while the current tranche of cash is to support improvements along the East London Line, which would be needed if a £2 billion housing development at Canada Water is to go ahead.

That development will see the current shopping centre and the buildings behind swept away and the whole low-rise area becoming a cluster of residential tower blocks.

There have already been concerns about how the Jubilee line would cope with such a huge housing development, so the London Overground capacity upgrade should help to alleviate some of those worries, as people could use the line up to Whitechapel then over to Canary Wharf on the Elizabeth line.

The housing development was also part of the rationale for the no-longer-happening pedestrian/cycle bridge across the Thames that’s now on hold due to high costs.

Although the exact details of how the new cash will be spent needs to be finalised, the funding is expected to see an increase in train frequency through the core of the East London Line from 16 trains per hour to 20 trains per hour. That’s to be achieved by new signalling works, power supply upgrade and additional stabling facilities at New Cross.

The very cramped Surrey Quays station gets a second entrance, which will run under the main road and be based on the north side, where the shopping centre car park is today. That avoids crossing two busy roads, which can take some time if you’re waiting for the lights to change.

The funding also unlocks improved bus facilities at Canada Water station to support three additional bus stands for a new bus route that would serve the new housing developments.

TfL has already indicated plans to increase capacity through the core of the East London Line with more trains terminating at Crystal Palace, subject to paths being confirmed by Network Rail. The new funding will support both two more trains per hour to Crystal Palace (from 4 to 6tph) and also two more per hour to Clapham Junction (also from 4 to 6 tph).

The additional trains to Clapham Junction would be needed as there is provision that the long-mooted station at Surrey Canal Road will be included. Some passive provision was included when the East London line was extended to Clapham Junction, but the developer of the housing estate going up in the area says that increased requirements for affordable housing meant it couldn’t fund the station as well. The station would also be given the “sexier” name of New Bermondsey.

Although the upgrades would in themselves generate a net surplus of fare revenue for TfL over a 60-year timeframe, it’s not possible for TfL to fund the upgrades itself at the moment, so it turned to the government’s HIF scheme for support.

The funding under the HIF needs to be spent by 2023, so that’s the deadline for the upgrades to be delivered.

Separately, Enfield Council has been awarded £156 million for Meridian Water to deliver rail works, road infrastructure, land remediation, flood alleviation and utilities to unlock up to 10k homes.

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11 comments on “More frequent trains and a new station for the London Overground
  1. Melvyn says:

    Will the new entrance to Surrey Quays Station include lifts for step free access ?

    With the postponed South Eastern Franchise perhaps extension of Overground from New Cross along South Eastern route could be included ?

    • ianvisits says:

      No idea to both questions.

    • Phil says:

      This suggestion has been repeatedly made over the years – mainly by those who have not paid the slightest bit of attention to just how busy the mainline railway is through New Cross (and beyond).

      There are NO SPARE TRAIN PATHS for London Overground services on this critical section of the SE mainline which is fully utilised for most of the day providing computer services to Kent and SE London – and even if there were paths a available then using them for 12 car trains to London terminals represents a far better utilisation of them than a 5 car Overground service.

      You also need to remember that (1) there is currently no connection between the ELL and the SE mainline at New Cross (2) The necessary resignalling and construction of such a junction won’t come cheap and (3) Any form of flat Junction would substantially decrease the number of trains which can be run through the area compared to now regardless of where they go.

      Finally just because the London Overground service is run by TfL doesn’t mean it has any extra legal or magic abilities to override the way the National Rail system is run. London Overground are no different to any other franchised train operator when it comes to having access to Network Rail infrastructure – which is managed to take into account the needs of all users (including freight) not just Londoners.

      The ONLY way London Overground will EVER get beyond New Cross is by expensive tunnelling (thus allowing it or some of the current SE mainline tracks) to be put underground to Blackheath / Catford / Hither Green thus increasing capacity over the critical section between New Cross and Lewisham.

  2. AndrewJD says:

    I’m incredibly sceptical about that line regarding Jubilee line capacity. The Overground has relatively slow acceleration/deceleration times, it takes a chunk of time to go another 4 stops from Canada Water, and then another chunk of time to change to Crossrail and ride it, then another chunk of time to emerge at the Crossrail station (which is positioned at the side of the estate), get out and walk to whichever office this hypothetical commuter works in. They will much rather get out at Canada Water and wait in a crowded ticket hall, filling every train to capacity. It’s already incredibly busy at rush hour and this will only attract people to live in an area already full of Canary Wharf workers.

    The Canada Water masterplan is a good use of wasted prime London real estate, but there’s a complacency about the transport links that needs to be looked at.

    • ianvisits says:

      If you’re on the side of Canary Wharf that the new Elizabeth line station is based on, then it could well be quicker to use that route — but obviously if you work in an office closer to the Jubilee line station, then it would, of course, be quicker to use the Jubilee line.

    • CityLover says:

      Yeah, a Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf bridge would help.

      Also the Overground trains have ridiculous dwell times as there are only two sets of door per carriage.

  3. John Usher says:

    I note the bit tucked at the end on ‘flood alleviation’ measures for Meridien Water. 10K homes slap bang across the flood plain of the Lee/Lea – that will take some alleviation! One rubber dinghy with every home purchased?

  4. Lee Moldon says:

    The previous comments regarding complacency about the transport links is correct in my opinion.
    The jubilee line is at already at breaking point, I travel on it very early in the morning from west ham through to london but stopped recently and go straight on to fenchurch st, as it’s like sardines at 6-6.30am.
    When they moved the previous residents out of what is now the Olympic park, they moved everyone to the surrounding suburbs such as barking and Chafford hundred with no thought to how it would effect the C2C rail network…and that had a knock on effect onto the jubilee at west ham and the overground at barking.
    What have they done with the land now? Sold it off to developers to build massively overpriced high rise penthouse apartments and student accommodation in Stratford, which will of course increase the the amount of commuters using Stratford station 10 fold which as we all know is the first stop on the jubilee line.
    Theres only so much that public transport can take in london especially now they are trying to stop people driving in London.
    It’s a Ticking time bomb.

  5. Southtrotter says:

    A journey from Canada Water/Surrey Quays to Canary Wharf will always be fastest using the Jubilee line, regardless of the exact office location at the Wharf.

    The amount of new developments near almost all stations on the eastern leg of the Jubilee Line is scary indeed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that trains often fill up almost completely at Stratford and West Ham, and by the time they get to Canning Town at the latest. Interestingly, the trains don’t even empty that much at Canary Wharf, with most passengers heading for Central London. This causes the described huge issues for passengers trying to board at Canada Water or, god forbid, Bermondsey. The Crossrail opening can’t come soon enough to take a good chunk of those boarding at Stratford and Canning Town away, which should provide plenty of space for the new dwellers of the Rotherhithe and Greenwich peninsulae.

    Luckily, the c2c railway is practically full with not much scope to further expand, so there won’t be too much more pressure coming that way.

    London Overground capacity is a complete red herring in this context, in my view. The issues here are mainly about overcrowding on the lines from Forest Hill and Peckham Rye coming into Canada Water, while there is plenty of capacity for people boarding at Canada Water, left by those getting off the train. It will be important to look at the station itself though as well, rather than just the train service. The current situation reveals poor space planning of the original Canada Water station, so it’s a shame that there wasn’t any mentioning of this being tackled.

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