The on-off plans to reopen Camberwell station in South London are back on again after the government included the station in a list to be considered for reopening.

The Ideas Fund has a modest pot of cash to spend on investigating if railway assets closed in the 1960s could be opened again — and the funds are mainly to support investigating how and when such openings could occur.

Included in the latest list of 50 bids for consideration is Camberwell Station.

Camberwell Station sits on the line just to the south of Elephant and Castle, opened in 1862, but closed to passengers in 1916 and entirely in 1924.

Site of the old station (c) TfL

It does, however, sit in a patch of London notably lacking in railway connections, and over the past decades, there have long been talks of either including a station on the Bakerloo line extension at Camberwell Green or reopening the mainline station again.

There have been a number of reports looking at the economic case for reopening the station, but they have all tended to find no overall benefit. Yes, it’s good for local residents, but the value impact of slower journeys due to the additional stop for people further out of central London more than wiped out the value benefit locally.

These days transport upgrades look at the wider economic uplift, so if the area were to see a gain, such as more housing or jobs, then that would help — but the reports found modest gains in an area lacking that many opportunities for redevelopment, even when spread over a 60-year timeframe.

The only opportunity, which anywhere else would be ideal is that TfL owns two large blocks of land which could be developed to around 400 homes (although the City Island Development density suggests that could double if they can build taller than the Carter Jones report implies).

The difficulty is that those sites are currently bus garages, most of which would almost certainly need to remain, with a podium built above — reducing the height of available living space for sale.

Even with local buses already being converted into electric, it wouldn’t be the most ideal place to live.

The other difficulty would be fitting a modern roughly £40 million station into the space occupied by the older smaller station. A TfL study looked at the rebuilding needed, and can just about fit a station into the space available, but said it would require “a complete reinstatement and modification of the track and platform infrastructure at viaduct level”.

Station proposal (c) TfL

Clearly the proposal that’s been submitted had enough merit to get it onto the long-list. Whether it makes the short-list won’t be known until the Autumn, and even then that just means funding is released for more reports to see if they can find a way of making the case for reopening the station a viable one.

The reopening of Camberwell Station has a long way to go.


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  1. Any Name says:

    An East Brixton station (or better but prohibitively expensive Brixton Super High Level) is very needed.

    Still, such a station could be easily funded with a compulsory purchase of the retail property next to the tracks (at very fair rates) and a new modern larger retail space put in its place.

  2. Melvyn says:

    Surely a re-build of Elephant and Castle Mainline Station should get more priority given its lack of step free access and how the immediate area is being totally rebuilt including the shopping centre to which the station is linked.

    As for effect on long distance trains it’s worth remembering that most long distance trains go via London Bridge Station with Elephant and Castle served by shorter distance 8 carriage Thameslink trains which can’t easily be extended due to layouts of stations on the Sutton loop so Camberwell will only be served by these trains .

    Camberwell is a major bus interchange and so a properly designed interchange could encourage transfer of passengers between modes helping to reduce the number of buses through the Elephant and Castle maze of roads .

    This would work better if Thameslink is added to the tube map encouraging use across Central London via what is already an almost accessible network of lines .

  3. Mothiur says:

    You should have social media sharing options.

  4. Helen says:

    I prefer the idea of a tram linking Denmark Hill to Elephant & Castle, Walworth Road could do with some change. With enough space I’d propose linking to Kennington as well to bridge the east and west transport – but no one is suggesting that bit.

  5. Fizi247 says:

    Assuming this is going to be on the new Bakerloo line extension, it would be nice to include the East London Line now known as the London Overground Extension to include Camberwell.

    Currently, there is a wide gap between Denmark Hill and Clapham High Street Station, which runs non stop through Brixton.

    A spur from Camberwell to connect to Denmark Hill (Overground) could even help if TFL decides to include Camberwell on the new Bakerloo Line Extension enabling an interchange at Camberwell!

    • ianvisits says:

      “Assuming this is going to be on the new Bakerloo line extension” <-- You'll find it helps if you read the article before you comment on it. Thanks

    • James Miller says:

      I have thought with modern building techniques, a decent architect could design an extended Loughborough Junction station, that had platforms on the Overground. It’s no more difficult to connect the two than Hackney Downs/Central.

  6. Amalgamated Man says:

    Having lived in Camberwell for some years in the past, I think a station would be useful, but the case is probably marginal, as bus routes are extensive and reasonably quick.

    The station could easily have a very frequent service as it would be served by Catford Loop services as well as those via Herne Hill.

    In general, I agree that it would be much better to serve this area with a new intermediate station on the overground line between Clapham High Street and Denmark Hill. Ideally, a mega station at Brixton or the Herne Hill end of Loughborough Junction station, allowing connections between Thameslink and Overground lines, with the latter, and a link to the Victoria line with the former.

  7. John Latham says:

    The latest report that was done for TfL in my view wrongly emphasised the impact on Kent commuters, but gave too little weight to Sutton services, i.e. misrepresented/misread the current timetable. It also failed to take account of overcrowding at Denmark Hill. Nor was proper account taken of the scale of traffic to and from King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley. These errors may have been deliberate, but need to be corrected.

    • Amalgamated Man says:

      Yes, it’s true that Denmark Hill is amazingly busy now. I remember when there was closure talk, and the South London Line (Victoria to London Bridge) only operated in peak hours (mid-80s if you’re wondering). I wonder if it needs a new entrance on Denmark Hill itself to facilitate the flow to and from King’s College Hospital? Not cheap, but cheaper than rebuilding Camberwell.

      On the other hand, I would love to see Camberwell rebuilt and it would offload some of the pressure from Denmark Hill and attract newcomers to rail travel – it’s a long trudge up Denmark Hill from Camberwell, and Denmark Hill station entrance is not very convenient, being round the corner on Champion Park.

  8. James Miller says:

    I went to the station yesterday and the workshops under the railway are in a bad way and some of the worst for quality, that I’ve seen in London. It looks like some are empty and that the new owners of the arches are involved in some sort of refurbishment.

    Perhaps, they are improving them, so they can maximise the return on what is now a liability.

    Could the owners, the Council, TfL, Network Rail and the MP be talking to make sure, that what happens to the building doesn’t compromise anybody’s long term plans.

  9. Paul says:

    Relevant to this is the 2012 London Reconnections article about additional platforms at Blackfriars. It would be technically feasible to run a lot more trains through Elephant and Camberwell, and as it’s 4 track, potentially even without impact to existing services. The problem is that there’s nowhere currently for them to terminate.

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