No central funding for Surrey Canal station

"Hammer blow" is a term that only ever gets written, never said, but this is a hammer blow for the prospects of a station at Surrey Canal on the new East London Line extension to Clapham Junction. And without a new station, the regeneration plans for the land around Millwall's stadium would be much harder to pull off.

Regeneration and Renewal reports that:

The Department for Transport has ruled out providing a £7 million contribution towards the costs of building a new London Overground station in south London considered key to a proposed 2,000 home development around Millwall's New Den football ground.

This is the funding that Boris forgot to ask about in his meeting with the DfT.


Tamsin said...

This is seriously stupid.

Who can be screamed at?

Mb said...

Emailed ruddock, this should be an obvious constiuency issue. Not a peep, has she said anything behind the scenes? Joan? Hello?

Henry's Cat said...

From the Lewisham Shopper...

Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford Joan Ruddock also supports the new station.

She said: “I am extremely disappointed by this outcome, the business case for the station is robust and I am sorry Department officials and the Minister have taken a different view.”

Ms Ruddock added: “It is not a matter of, ‘if’ but ‘when’ the station will be built and I will continue to work with Lewisham Council, Transport for London and local developers to put forward the case.”

I suggest screaming at anyone that voted Lib Dem in the last election...

Mb said...

Oh.... Sorry Joan.

Anonymous said...


Henry's Cat said...

In fairness Mb, it was reported in the Lewisham Shopper, which I appreciate is not the newspaper of choice around these parts...

mintness said...

"I suggest screaming at anyone that voted Lib Dem in the last election..."

I did. Joan Ruddock got elected. What now?

max said...

"I suggest screaming at anyone that voted Lib Dem in the last election..."

Can you remind him the name of the party that ran the previous government and didn't fund the station either?

max said...

Here's the letter from Theresa Villiers to Caroline Pidgeon about the denial of funding.
And she makes an interesting point:

"The developers who plan to redevelop the area, and who could potentially benefit from increases in property sale prices as a result of a new station may still wish to help fund the scheme. I would suggest that they, along with the local planning authority, might give this further consideration."

Headhunter said...

Such a shame, that area is a complete wasteland to public transport apart from the odd bus and South Bermondsey rail station

max said...

Yes, but here besides a public interest to improve the area there is a massive and very clearly identified private interest, why doesn't the developer help fund the station?

They're already benefiting from the public investment that brings the railway line and with 2500 flats it's something around 1% on the price of sale at today's price that they'd have to pay, all money that they'd get back from the added value of the station.

Lou Baker said...

It's obviously a dumb decision - and, obviously, the developer should fund the station.

But what I find staggering is that 2 platforms, a small cover, a couple of benches and a ticket machine can conceivably cost £10m.

Why the hell are two bits of concrete so expensive?

Brockley Nick said...

A station isn't two bits of concrete.

Tommo said...

Lou Baker could obviously do it for less. He seems to think you just go and buy a station off the shelf from Tescos.

The fact is these are bespoke structures. Once you add in the cost of new signalling systems, lifts, ticket barriers, ticket offices, passenger information systems in addition to the cost of possible line closures on certain days to test all the new systems, 10 million doesn't seem so far- fetched.

Mb said...

That and the cocaine, escorts and kickbacks. Life is sweet in LU.

Seriously though, Lou is just wrong.

Brockley Nick said...

@Lou - also worth noting that even if the private sector coughs up the cash, it will be too late for work to start before the line begins, so work would have to take place when the line is operational. According to London Reconnections, this will double the cost of the station build.

An incredibly short-sighted decision.

The argument goes that the business case is not strong enough. That area is a complete waste of central London land. £7m to help its rejuvenation is an absolute bargain.

max said...

Hi Nick, why would it be too late for private funds to come to start works during construction of the line?

Lou Baker said...


Which is why it is unlikely to ever be built - and why it's a mad decision.

It still shouldn't cost £10m.

Tommo has come up with 'lifts' - most stations don't have those, ticket barriers - ditto. Signalling. Presumably the line needs that anyway so we're talking two extra traffic lights. "Passenger Information System" that's posters and a whiteboard - oooh and a tannoy. I could get a better outside sound system than most stations have for a few grand.

So, no Tommo there is no justification for this thing costing £10m. And if it cost less it could be built.

Headhunter said...

I know nothing about funding and construction of rail stations but £10m does sound a lot. But then £3bn for a nuclear sub also sounds budget busting.... Surely we could get one of those for a couple of bill at most if we cut a few corners, shortened tea breaks or something?

Brockley Nick said...

Max, answers given to the London Assembly confirmed that they were already right up against the deadline for funding if they were going to include the project in the intial programme. The developers are at a very early stage in their plans for Millwall and surely won't be in a position to sign off a £7m cheque instantly.

I don't know the exact reasons why this timetable is as it is, but I think it is to do with the design and engineering team, which has been on standby but without funding in place, they will have to be used on other projects. Plus of course, there is the 2012 deadline to hit for the line to open.

the fat controller said...

Anyone else get the impression Lou has a toy train set at home which, he likes to tinker around with?

I bet it even has a direct line from West Telegraph Hill / Greater-Extended Dulwich to Charing Cross.

Stations can be made out of egg cartons and matches, at next to no cost.

Lifts? None of the toys are disabled!

Tannoys! My Bang Olufsen plays meatloaf just will suffice.

MB said...

Where to start....

Signalling is not just 'two sets of lights', that’s such a dumb statement I hardly know where to start so I say nothing.

Building a brand new station that is not accessible would probably contravene the DDA. Before you sound off, everyone has the right to use Public Transport. The population is aging, pensioners have paid taxes all their lives. Using the railway they paid for is not an unreasonable request as they age and their knees go. If you sit in a wheel chair you should still be able to get to an office or go to the shops in one of the richest cities on earth.

Working on a railway once traffic has started is horribly expensive. Before the line opens it’s essentially a construction site. Once the railway begins to run you’re restricted to a few hours a night – at least during the final stages – and the checks between shifts takes time. Time, lou old fruit, is money.

CCTV/Power Systems/Comms equipment/Fire systems/barriers and revenue collection equipment WILL be required/lighting/PA...the list goes on.

If you ever get the chance go behind the scenes of MODERN station. Every nook and cranny is filled with equipment. Its either that or lots more staff, one of the battles that LU are having with the unions at the moment.

@HH you should have stopped when you got to “I know nothing about funding and construction of rail stations..

Danja said...

Arguably, he could have stopped seven words sooner. :p

max said...

Thanks Nick.

Headhunter said...

I assumed you'd all realise my comment was a little tongue in cheek seeing as I followed it up with a critique of nuclear sub funding.... Clearly it went straight over your heads...

max said...

To think that Barratt could get £20.5m from government or they wouldn't have started to work on the Loampit Vale site but this other development is stuck for a third of that sum.

Mb said...

It's Friday afternoon. I've been in the LU machine for a whole week so I have difficulty distinguishing between irony, sarcasm and reality.

I'm looking at installing a portacabin witha toilet in at chesham. You REALLY don't want to know what that may cost. One thing the railways do badly is treating every job in it's remit as an actual railway. A bog, in my view, is not a safety critical asset. You'd think we were fitting one on the space station.

max said...

Toilet? Lou's right, this is taking liberties with public money.
From now on railway workers shall relieve themselves before leaving home or in case of emergency at the nearest wealth creating establishment.

Jimmy said...

I'm glad that the government is not wasting £7m plus another £3m from Lewisham Council (to be lost from all other transport projects across the borough) for the sake of a development area within half a mile of an existing station.

If the developer cannot still make money out of this site then that's fine. Why do we need to fill up every square foot of land anyway?

Beyond this site is the whole area of North Peckham, Burgess Park and Camberwell with no train stations. Compared to this large expanse of Inner London, Surrey Canal Road is well served by South Bermonsey.

I would be interested to know who actually owns the land around this area and will benefit most from a new station.

Brockley Nick said...

It's not like the land is currently verdant pasture, it's brownfield. The fact that other areas need trains too is undeniably true but not an argument against this project. There is an opportunity to capitalise on an existing project to create a new station. There are no such lines planned through the areas you mention, nor will there be for a very long time. This is not an either / or situation.

Lou Baker said...


An accessible station does not have to have lifts - it can have a ramp.

Most stations don't have ticket barriers - what's different about this?

A handful of lights and a toilet do not cost £10m. They just don't.

Safety equipment? Fire extinguishers you mean. Also don't make it £10m.

They built the temporary station in Workington in Cumbria in 6 days for £216k.

£10m is excessive.

Brockley Nick said...

Why do we need a station at all?

We could simply let the trains slow down a bit as they pass through the area and people could jump on and off from various vantage points.

Jimmy said...

Every piece of government expendature is either/or. In this case Lewisham decided that spending £3m on a project on the very edge of the borough to increase property values for private land owners and developers.
I'm glad that the £3m can now be better spent on regenerating the roads and existing town centres rather than trying to start again in an industrial wasteland.

Brockley Nick said...

@Jimmy - of course money not spent here cannot be spent elsewhere. But you were suggesting that it would be wrong to spend money on stations here when other areas are lacking stations.

There is no realistic option to build stations in the areas you are talking about, so it's an irrelevant point.

Money can be spent elsewhere of course, but I'd like to hear other ways that a &7m injection of public cash could lead to a similar level of economic return.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Lou - one thing you are wrong about is ticket barriers. For Oyster use, all stations in the brockley area are having barriers installed even Lewisham.

St Johns seems to be the only one holding out but I suspect it is a matter of time.

Which Stations do you know without barriers?

Danja said...

Kings Road probably

max said...

Nick, although it may be early stages of the development still it doesn't look like they trust their own case enough to put any money forward at all, so with that in mind it may be that the DfT assesment that the business case doesn't stand may have some merit.

Although a station there may herald a wonderful new future for the area it may also end as an unused station in the middle of a wasteland, after all one of the features of the area is a massive incinerator, not your usual selling point.
The other feature of the area is of course the Millwall stadium, great if you're a season ticket holder, not everyone's cup of tea though.

Brockley Nick said...

@Max - regardless of whether this particular regen project goes ahead (and they seem fairly serious), the long-term regeneration benefits of putting a station in inner London are proven. Follow the route of the DLR (once thought of as a white elephant) to see my point.

You can take a short-term tactical view or you can take a long-term strategic view. They have chosen the former.

max said...

True, both argument are correct, they don't exclude each other.
If there is a station in the long term the area will improve and yet the fact that the local landowner will benefit disproportionately makes a case for a contribution.
If officers at DfT after examining the business case are unconvinced they may suspect that once the station is built nothing gets built around but the increased value is simply banked over speculatively so it is only correct to say "show me the money", because those money could be used to plug some other gap somewhere else, they're spoilt for choice for where to spend them on.

Anonymous said...

Lou, your comparing a temporay structure with a station with a 100 year plus life.

Monkeyboy said...

Lou, you do like comparing scenarios that have no business being compared. Just because they have "station" somewhere in their description does not mean they are comparable. How would you feel if I told you to that you put too many gurkins in my quarter pounder? You would tell me stick to working on railway stations and leave assembling burgers to those with four stars on their name badge.

No onions on mine please.

Lou Baker said...


Just because you work on the railways doesn't mean you know anything at all about funding. Indeed most of the people I come across who work on the railways know nothing about anything. That's why passengers are consistently inflicted with a substandard service - because the workers are generally of a poor quality. As demonstrated repeatedly by the dimwits in the RMT.

That aside, it doesn't cost £10m to build a station. Not only demonstrated by the Workington example I gave but also by Imperial Wharf. Opened last year in London zone 2, having been built while the railway was fully operational, above ground, fully accessible, with ticket machines, lights, public information systems, signals and a staff loo - all for a cost of £7.8m.

London Reconnections estimates building on a working railway doubles the cost. If that's true Imperial Wharf - in the rather more expensive Kennsington area - could have been finished for less than £5m if the railways had been closed.

This proves that building a station doesn't need too £10m. And if Surrey Canal was priced at a much more reasonable £5m - the developer would surely fund the shortfall.

I'm sure you can spend £10m on a station. You can spend £10m on a house or a car. But the point is you don't need to. As the evidence proves.

Brockley Nick said...

So Imperial Wharf cost nearly 8m and this will cost 10m. I don't know the differences between the two projects, but it doesn't seem much of a stretch to see how one might cost 20% more than the other, depending on specifications and context.

London Reconnections said the cost of this particular project would double if there was a delay, it doesn't follow that this would be the case always.

What is your expertise in this area Lou?

Monkeyboy said...

Lou, great analysis. Thanks for that. Some stations cost less, some cost more. The station would have been built to a similar spec, using similar techniques, possibly by the same designers and contractors by the private sector. It's the same railway. You've not actually demonstrated why you think 10m is too much for that particular station, you have shown that a similar station cost 7.8m which is a little more than the couple of hundred thousand you state for a temporary structure elsewhere. What is abundantly apparent is that you absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Keep on digging

Danja said...

The £10m is an estimate including all sorts of contigencies etc (it has not even been designed yet).

The station is still at preliminary design stage and in making the cost estimate TfL
has applied cautious industry standard risk and contingency costs applicable at
preliminary design. The additional £3million is required to meet the contingency
as currently estimated. Detailed design is due to be completed in May 2010, at
which stage TfL will undertake a risk analysis and it may be that contingency can
be reduced. TfL will undertake design work at their risk until such time as a
funding agreement is in place with the Council.
7.3 Assuming the DfT agree to fund the £7m, this would form the core funding for the
station. The amount of the Council’s contribution would therefore vary depending
on the final costs. Based on a similar station recently opened on the West
London Line, officers believe that the total cost should not exceed the
contingency allowance provided, giving a Council contribution of up to a
maximum of £3m. Discussions still need to take place with TfL as to the basis on
which the risk of the final costs exceeding £10m will be shared by the Council
and TfL. This will form a fundamental part of any funding agreement.

Danja said...

That was from:

Which also states that the cost of doing it later on a live line is estimated at £13m.

Danja said...


Anonymous said...

What are you? Some kind of lawyer?

They could have saved a lot of awfully complex looking scrutiny by giving Lou twenty minutes on the Internet and some hob nobs.

Kevin said...

Good to hear Jimmy's comment. Frankly I'm pretty non-plussed by this station either way. But my gut instinct is that London needs the odd brownfield/industrial site, such as where the proposed ELL station would be. This area is not a wasteland that would be transformed into Babylon by a new station. It is a largely (but by non means completely) non-residential area that serves a very useful function with its small scale industrial units, massive incinerator and Lewisham municipal refuse and recycling facilities. London needs these things. They might not add value to property prices, you might not be able to buy a decaf latte in such places but they are a necessity, like sewage works, so just deal with it! And let's face it given that the area already has S. Bermondsey station next door (which links up to the future ELL in one direction at Peckham Rye station) and has two buses, P12 and 225, shuttling the short distance to Surrey Quays in the other direction, the business case is hardly stunning.

Let's just hope that the £3million which Lewisham can now (in theory) re-allocate will be used sensibly, perhaps by incorporating some far better thought out bus routes than currently exist in the borough, or better still re-directing the funds to save the 5 libraries, which require just £800,000 to be kept open.

westsider said...

"london needs the waste and recycling centre"

No ones planning to get rid of them?

"london needs brownfield sites"

London needs homes

"better bus routes"

I'm interested to know what you mean by this.

max said...

I quire agree with Kevin on the usefulness of some industrial sites within town, especially for waste treatment that should be preferably sorted nearer to where it's produced if we are serious about reducing waste and emissions, there's a lot that can be done better in that field if space is allocated, but not much if space is not provided, Lewisham produces a lot of waste and yet the footfall of the waste treatment sites is tiny, and given that the SELCHP is there the natural place where an eventual expansion could happen is there.

Westsider, the "London needs homes" slogan in a vacuum is not an approach that's good enough, look where we are with primary school provision.

Kevin said...

What I meant was that I can't help sensing that the unspoken narrative running through a lot of the comments about Surrey Canal Rd. is that it's an area that is somehow letting down the chi-chi go-getting, arty regeneration driven image that SE Londoners are becoming a little too fond of.

I might be wrong but all this talk of redevelopment just seems a smoke screen for "please remove these unsightly industrial processes from my backyard so we can build lots of identikit glass fronted developments with over-priced gyms attached". With what's going on at the moment in Lewisham I think we're going to have quite enough of those thanks. Better instead to acknowledge that SE London has an active industrial heartland that is likely to remain and to accept that station or no station not too many people will choose to live adjacent to SELCHP.

By contrast, a brownfield site that is literally empty, serving no purpose and should be reveloped asap is the big space where Catford Dog track was. Let's redevelop first genuinely empty places such as that, one already sited next to two stations, rather than fretting about the somewhat unslightly aesthetics of the environs of Millwall football ground.

As an aside I think Catford/ Catford Bridge should be marketed as one station since they are so close to each other (indeed a train change there requires much less leg work than one at say the uniformly branded but sprawling 'London Bridge') And whilst we're on the subject of value for money transport improvements the campaign to connect Bellingham, Catford and Crofton Park to Victoria (which happens anyway on weekends?!) seems a much cheaper and massively more beneficial option (given the numbers of people living in those areas, esp. Catford) compared to sticking another station on the ELL just down the road from Surrey Quays.

As for bus routes, God where to start?! Ok, I live in Crofton Park (hence selfishly having little interest either way in Surrey Canal Rd) and I find it amazing how long it takes to go the very short distance to Lewisham. It's mad how nearly all buses in SE4/SE6/SE13 seem to follow the same trunk routes. Whereas, P4, 484 or 284 could easily go down Algernon Rd. in Ladywell and avoid getting caught in endless Lewisham traffic. I don't understand why every single bus goes round that painfully slow and frankly mental one-way system known as Lewisham High Street when they could fly down the other side of Lewisham shopping centre along the dual carriageway that is Molesworth St. I'm baffled understand why there is pretty much no bus in the borough that goes south-west to north-east; given the relatively short distances it takes a ludicrous amount of time to go from say Crofton Park to Deptford, Greenwich or the O2. Still too many bus routes in London are radial, not everyone wants to go into the centre as the success of the ELL proves.

Kevin said...

Westsider, in answer to your other question about bus routes, God where to start?! Ok, I live in Crofton Park (hence selfishly having little interest either way in Surrey Canal Rd) and I find it amazing how long it takes to go the very short distance to Lewisham. It's mad how nearly all buses in SE4/SE6/SE13 seem to follow the same trunk routes. Whereas, P4, 484 or 284 could easily go down Algernon Rd. in Ladywell and avoid getting caught in endless Lewisham traffic. I don't understand why every single bus goes round that painfully slow and frankly mental one-way system known as Lewisham High Street when they could fly down the other side of Lewisham shopping centre along the dual carriageway that is Molesworth St. I'm baffled understand why there is pretty much no bus in the borough that goes south-west to north-east; given the relatively short distances it takes a ludicrous amount of time to go from say Crofton Park to Deptford, Greenwich or the O2. Far too many bus routes in London are radial, going into the centre. What the success of the ELL has highlighted is the need to greatly improve transport for the growing numbers of people wanting to travel across/against those traditional routes abd away from the centre.

westsider said...

It's impossible to discuss any topic without someone accusing somebody of having a hidden agenda. You're worried that it's secretly about trying to make Millwall chi chi? Come off it.

Please try and address the points people make, rather than the points you think they might secretly want to make.

That area's not a thriving industrial heartland. if it was I'#d be cool with it. It's just a dump. One of the worst parts of London. None of us should think that's acceptable and you can't buy a bus stop for 7m quid these days, so the station would have been a total bargain.

Bus stuff's interesting though. Less of an issue at the Brockley Station end of town though - can walk to Deptford and / or get the DLR or there are buses to Lewisham. O2's also easy to reach thanks to the ELL.

Kevin said...

We seem to be drifing off topic a bit here, but as for that area being a bit of a dump, yes that was largely my point. It is a dump, literally. And we all need to go to such places sometimes. There's an obsession with gentrifying every square inch of the capital. Personally I'd rather industry/small manufacturing companies stayed in the capital rather than being driven out to the fringes of the M25/Tilbury etc. just to make way for yet more naff, rapidly thrown up glass developments. If we're not careful inner London will become as crushingly bland/identikit as central Manchester has become in recent years.

I had the misfortune to live in the borough of Islington for a short spell about 10 years ago and it used to drive me up the wall that you could every cuisine under the sun in Upper Street but not anything vaguely useful like a screw driver!

Perhaps it is wrong to attempt to second guess what lies behind people's statements, but there does seem to be a tone in more and more of the blogs here that suggests people would quite like SE London to turn into SW or N London, a prospect that doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

Sean Baggaley said...

Sorry folks, but Lou has a very good point regarding the costs of building any infrastructure in the UK.

Rome's Tiburtina station—roughly comparable with London's Clapham Junction in terms of size, network importance and complexity—is being *completely* rebuilt, as are many of the surrounding roads.

While all the lines are open.

And the total cost for all this?

Approx. m-ish. No, that's not a typo.

(Primary source: — in Italian. More pics here: — also mostly Italian.)

So: would someone kindly explain why a much simpler, two-platform noddy station on a railway that hasn't even been opened yet was priced so high?

Regardless of whether a station at Surrey Canal Road can be justified or not, this is a major problem. Why does any infrastructure project in the UK cost so bloody much?

Sean Baggaley said...

Sorry, I've no idea what happened to the cost of the Tiburtina project in my post above. The actual cost is around 55 million Euros, or roughly fifty million UK pounds.

Anonymous said...

How do you know they are comparable? The fact that they have some trains and some platforms does not enable anyone to make a useful comparison.

Sean Baggaley said...

I lived near the Surrey Canal Road site for some years, but also have family and relatives in Rome, so I'm also familiar with the Roma Tiburtina project.

The latter is Rome's equivalent of Clapham Junction: more than half of the trains serving Rome serve this station. And that's a lot of trains.

The proposal for Surrey Canal Road was just a simple two-patform station of a type littering the nation's rail network. They're tuppenny-hapenny things: two slabs of prefabbed platform, some prefabbed buildings and a couple of lifts. Big deal.

And, of course, there wasn't a bloody railway going through the site either, so no need to worry about squeezing everything into a small number of possessions and weekend closures.

And for that, they wanted £10 million quid? Seriously? That's so far from "value for money", you'd need the Hubble Space Telescope to see it!

Anonymous said...

It cost five the cost and much bigger. Different technology, etc, etc.... So not comparable at all then

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