The ‘Myths’ of Transport Planning in South London

Steve Slack continues his efforts to shame the gas-guzzlers of Dulwich who insist on driving short distances with a not-too-dull article about local transport planning.

Gossip and rumours can be ugly. I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of buzz around at the moment about what may or may not be happening to public transport in south London.

The tube is coming to Camberwell.
We’ll be able to use Oyster everywhere soon.
Buses are going to run on spinach leaves.
They’re building a helipad in Court Lane Gardens!

Are these just local legends, fabricated by transport fanatics? Or is there any fact in these claims? I gathered together some local rumours and went to interview Transport for London. They could confirm or deny some the myths of transport planning. And a riveting interview it was…

Are there really plans to extend the Bakerloo line to Burgess Park and Camberwell Green? And what about the rumours I hear of extending the Victoria line to Loughborough Junction, Camberwell and Peckham?

London Underground has no current plans to extend either the Bakerloo or Victoria lines. The possibility of extending the lines has been looked at in the past, however any extension would require very significant public money to be invested. Heavy passenger demand on the south end of the Victoria line means that the line already operates at capacity which weakens the case for an extension; the Bakerloo is comparatively quieter which would make the case for an southern extension stronger in principle.

I heard that bus route 42 was to be extended starting at Sainsbury’s in East Dulwich. Is this true? And has anything resulted from the review of public transport provision to Dulwich Community Hospital?

We are aware of requests for additional bus services to the hospital and supermarket. We are currently reviewing services in the area and have offered to meet with NHS representatives to discuss bus provision to the hospital. Any proposed changes to bus services will be consulted on with local residents and bus users.

Are there any plans for any new community bus routes in south London? Or any new express bus services out of the centre of London, like the highly successful X68?

Bus services in London are constantly under review to ensure we are continuing to meet passengers’ needs – about a fifth of the network is undergoing a full review at any given time. We currently have no plans for changes to bus routes in the Dulwich area (though as mentioned above, we are looking at bus provision to Dulwich Community Hospital and Sainsbury’s) or to introduce new express routes.

Gosh, what boring answers. How about the trains then. I heard that TfL was supposed to be taking over the running of the overground trains. Is that true? And what’s this ORBIRAIL thing all about?

ORBIRAIL is a plan to create a continuous overland rail loop around London on the overground network, like the Circle Line, only above ground. The idea is that people wanting to cross London from, for example Dulwich, don’t have to go into town and out again – they can go round the outside quickly and easily. It will run through 21 of London’s 33 boroughs.

We’ve changed the name now – ORBIRAIL is a bit 70s, we think – and it’s now called London Overground.
A large part of it is already complete in the Silverlink network in north London.

TfL took over the line of the proposed loop in November 2007 and we are working towards having two thirds of the loop complete by 2010. The main focus at the moment is reworking parts of the old East London Line, which is currently closed. We aren’t just extending it – we’re reworking it so it can take overland trains.

This will all eventually join up with a section from Clapham to Surrey Quays (via Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Queens Road Peckham etc). The entire loop should be completed by December 2011.

The idea is that people will be able to come to a train station and just get on the next train – like on the tube network. Passengers shouldn’t need to consult a timetable any more.

Great, good news for us in south London. No more going into town to get to north London – we can just go round the outside. And if you look at the map we’ll all able to get to the Olympics using the train.

Yes, and it will also help with congestion at the major stations in the centre of London. Places like London Bridge and Victoria are really busy at the moment, so this will take some of the passenger burden off them.

But will we be able to use our Oyster cards on this new system? At the moment passengers can’t use Oyster Pay As You Go on the overland network (as they can on the tube and buses). Will that change?

Yes, TfL has been in discussion with the other rail operators in London for five years and are on the brink of being able to offer the Pay As You Go option to all rail travellers. It’ll certainly be in place by the time the next phase of the London Overground network opens in 2010.

So there you go. Not exactly inspiring for those who proselytise the south London bus network. But good news for those of us who love the overground network and paying-as-we-go.

Anything else you want us to check with TfL, just leave a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

All images: © Transport for London 2005

About this article

Steve Slack

About Steve Slack

Steve Slack is a writer and researcher based in East Dulwich. He’s most often to be found either in a museum or in the bar. Or even museums which have bars. Steve blogs about museums, galleries and all sorts of things at


  1. ingrid 5 Aug 2008

    So many ‘no plans’ or ‘under review’. Looks like Dulwich will remain a leafy suburb for the foreseeable future. The London Overground sounds good. They should link it to the DLR too.
    Lovely new video on the side bar – Bus Kong – very appropriate to the article.

  2. Anna 8 Aug 2008

    What a completely fab video; very witty. I love Ken’s array of buttons to press; from ‘request biscuits’ to ‘unleash monkeys’. Regarding Steve’s interview, well done for keeping going in the face of bureaucratic stone-walling, Steve! I’d have lost the will to live half way through.

  3. It’s very difficult to get to Dulwich and then once you’re here, it’s very difficult to escape. I suppose that is partly what keeps it lovely, quiet and leafy….

    • Latrice 15 Apr 2011

      Very true! Makes a change to see someone spell it out like that. :)

  4. Steve Slack 11 Aug 2008

    See, I think it’s *easy* to get to Dulwich from the centre of London. It’s a bit more fiddly than getting on the tube, but it hardly takes any more time.

    And yes, we are indeed lucky that our surroundings are so beautiful.


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