London Overground train
Greenwich Council’s former leader had pushed for an Overground link to Thamesmead (photo: Roger Marks via Creative Commons)

Greenwich Council’s top transport officer has downplayed hopes that the London Overground could be extended to Thamesmead – telling a scrutiny meeting that the borough would prefer to see the Docklands Light Railway run to the area.

Graham Nash told councillors on Tuesday that Thamesmead would need a new bus rapid transit system – a revived Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme – and the Docklands Light Railway if it was reach its full potential.

Thamesmead has been dogged by poor public transport since its inception in the 1960s, with residents expected to rely on buses to Abbey Wood or Woolwich Arsenal. In the 1970s, there was hope it would have been served by the Jubilee Line, but those plans were dropped in 1981.

Former council leader Denise Hyland had lobbied for the Gospel Oak to Barking Overground line – which is already being extended south to the huge new Barking Riverside development – to be extended further south to Thamesmead.

Asked by Conservative councillor Charlie Davis (six minutes into the video below) about plans for Thamesmead during a session on money from developers, Nash, the assistant director for transport, said: “It depends on the scale of build-out in Thamesmead as to what transport is needed to support it.

“At a medium level, it would be the bus rapid transit, and the attraction of that is that it’s able to be delivered much more quickly to link Thamesmead to Abbey Wood and Woolwich and therefore the Elizabeth Line, but for the maximum build-out, which is what we’re anticipating, it needs also the extension of the DLR from Beckton.

“We’re assuming both, because they’re both essential.”

Asked by Davis if the council preferred the DLR over an Overground extension, Nash said, “Yes.”

The news will disappoint those who would like to see Thamesmead get an orbital public transport link straight into North London – a route that could tempt many drivers out of their cars. Greenwich has supported a DLR link to Thamesmead – providing a radial link toward Canary Wharf and the City – since the railway first opened 32 years ago.

Despite being pledged by mayor Sadiq Khan in 2016 – as an attempt to make the Silvertown Tunnel more “green” – plans for a DLR link to Thamesmead remain vague. Last year TfL revealed a number of possible DLR and Overground routes, while Peabody, the housing association which runs much of Thamesmead, revealed plans for an 11,000 home development by the Thames centred around a DLR station.

The Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme – cancelled by then-mayor Boris Johnson in 2009 but now revived – would run from Woolwich, Plumstead Road and Plumstead station via Western Way, Central Way, Thamesmead town centre, Carlyle Road and Harrow Manor Way with routes to Abbey Wood and onto Belvedere.

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