A 2004 map showing how London’s transport network could look in 2016 has plenty of interesting details – including a cross-river tram that would have connected Southwark with central London.
Running from Euston station in the north down to Peckham in the south, with a branch line going off to Brixton to the south-west, plans for the line were scrapped in 2008 by then-mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Asked by the Green Party if he would revive the plans in 2016, Johnson’s Labour successor Sadiq Khan said there was no need, given that Camberwell railway station might soon be reopened, and the Overground had improved links to the area.
But although the Overground has brought new services to Denmark Hill, Queen’s Road Peckham and Peckham Rye stations, five years on from Khan’s comments there are no immediate plans to reopen the Camberwell station.
The Cross-River Tram would have arrived at a South Bank station, running to Waterloo, with stations at St George’s Circus, Elephant & Castle – an interchange with the Northern and Bakerloo lines – Elephant & Castle South, Catesby Street, East Street, Albany Road, Burgess Park, Chandler Way, Kelly Avenue, Peckham Arch and Peckham Bus Station.
The south-western branch would have split off at Waterloo and gone through stations at Imperial War Museum, Kennington Cross, Albert Square, Stockwell – an interchange with the Victoria and Northern lines – before going down to Brixton.
The tram would have meant someone living on the Aylesbury Estate could have got to Waterloo in about fourteen minutes, according to a consultation document. Peckham to Waterloo would have taken about 26, the same document suggested. Fares would have been the same as a bus ride.
As well as filling in the gaps of the transport network in Peckham and Camberwell, the tram line would have taken pressure off the southern end of the Northern and Victoria lines, which can get very busy in morning and evening rush hours.
After the Cross-River Tram was scrapped, plans for privately funded trams running north-south through the borough were mooted, and continue to be on the agenda for Southwark’s opposition Liberal Democrats.
Last year the Lib Dems called on Southwark Labour to redirect funding from Elephant and Castle station upgrade to a tramline, as the Bakerloo Line Extension was shelved indefinitely amid Transport for London funding pressures.
Camberwell Station, which has been closed to passenger trains since 1916, is not close to reopening, although in 2020 it was included in a list of stations that could be relaunched.
With the recent opening of Crossrail adding yet another Tube line north of the river, perhaps it is time to reconsider ways of improving transport links in Southwark and south-east London.