The neighbourhood where people have been hoping for a London Underground extension for decades

The Lewisham and Deptford MP constituency was a Labour stronghold since 1977, now the boundaries have slightly changed to create the Lewisham North seat for the upcoming General Election on July 4. The area is expected to remain red, with Labour candidate Vicky Foxcroft the favourite. However, residents remain unconvinced that the prospect of a dual Labour link with Mayor of London and Government will bring about what’s been promised to them for years - transport links.

The Bakerloo line extension, a longstanding London Underground plan laid out by Transport for London (TfL) to continue the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham, has been a hot topic for the constituency of Lewisham North ahead of the election. MyLondon went to Lewisham DLR station to ask what local commuters thought.

The extension blueprints have been around for decades and civil servant Colin Martin, 62 said he'd heard about this ‘so-called’ underground extension since he was a kid. The Lewisham resident said he’d heard all the excuses; from the lack of financial backing to unsuitable clay in the area.

READ MORE: London bus users want express route to speed through 'nightmare' traffic but would rather see Tube extension

After hearing ‘many many plans’ from ‘many many politicians’ outlining how the Bakerloo line was about to connect to Lewisham, Martin, so far has seen no progress. He said: “If it ever happens I’m afraid I’ll be long dead when it does.”

Calvin Miller in his work uniform outside Lewisham station
Ex-HS2 worker Calvin Miller believes the Bakerloo line extension would be worth the wait -Credit:Freya Parsons

Lewisham-born crane operator and ex-HS2 worker Calvin Miller, 42, said that despite the disruption it would be worth it overall due to the long term environmental affect of buses. He was unconvinced that a Labour government would have any impact on the supposed extension, putting this down to the speed of progression he saw on HS2 compared to that of Bakerloo.

With services only set to begin in 2040 at the earliest, Khan has promised an express ‘Superloop-style’ limited bus stop service, dubbed the ‘Bakerloop,’ to satisfy Lewisham residents in the interim. As the long-awaited London Underground extension remains unfunded and overpromised, Mr Khan's Bakerloop offers a somewhat replacement.

While a temporary super-fast bus would be better than an elusive Tube extension, commuters mentioned the key obstacle would be Lewisam’s egregious traffic. Commuters were generally complimentary of the Superloop bus services, but were quick to flag that the traffic in Lewisham was particularly bad which could well impact their effectiveness at being ‘super.’

Chantel Benoit at Lewisham DLR station
Chantel Benoit is frustrated at having to travel into London Bridge to catch the Tube -Credit:Freya Parsons

Hybrid worker Chantel Benoit, 43, noted that Keir Starmer appeared to have a more hopeful manifesto in terms of transport than Rishi Sunak but was exasperated by the fact she had to travel into Central London to get a Tube. She said: “It’s an absolute nightmare. The fact that I have to go to London Bridge to get a tube seems crazy to me. It’s a real disappointment we haven’t had it completed yet.”

Baffled by the idea that more buses in an already congested area could be considered ‘superfast’ Chantel flagged that even with a one-way system, and bus lanes, the traffic remains horrendous, and was intrigued to see how the Bakerloop would turn out.

With concerns about the environment, transport fares, and safety from what 20-year-old bartender Rusne described at the ‘bus creatures of the night.’ It’s clear that while a bus service is better than nothing it’s not ideal, and furthermore, not what was promised.

As the election race enters into its final week faster than you can say Bakerloo, the hope for transport links in Lewisham North remains temporary or non-existent. The potential change offered by a dual Labour mayor and government addressing longstanding transport issues is met with cautious optimism. As for losing hope of an underground extension in the near future, for many locals the train has already left the station.

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