In the longer term, the best use of this space would be as the starting point of tunnelling the A205 (South Circular) through Forest Hill - liberating the area from heavy traffic. Benefits would be huge - including a pedestrianised town centre/high street, joining up the Horniman Gardens and Triangle etc.etc.
Tunnelling the A205 South Circ through Forest Hill
That is a fantastic idea, but the road would still exist - otherwise we couldn’t get into Forest Hill!
Sadly the Bakerloo extention decided it was too expensive - despite the fact FH is one of the most overcrowded stations in the UK. Zero chance a road would get a tunnel
All part of the plan for improving the South Circular back in the mid-80’s. About the only part of the plan which had any merit - only problem is where does the tunnel exit the other end?
The South Circular Assessment Study finally bit the dust in 1989
Are the current elected representatives even aware of the previous work on this proposal?
The question of how long the tunnel should be and where the other entrance/s should be is not a reason to cancel the project. Some options might be: 1) a short tunnel could have an entrance near Railway Telegraph / Topps Tiles (Stanstead Road/ Waldram Park) or Malham Industrial Estate; 2) longer (or additional section) tunnel to Catford; 3) further possibilities (and costs!) out to the junction of A205 with A2 / A20.
The short tunnel option would be a relatively small project compared to recent tunnelling operations e.g. channel tunnel (including the new railway line into Stratford and onwards to St Pancras), Thameslink, Crossrail, the new road tunnel in Silvertown.
Was this connected to the demise of the Greater London Council?
BTW It’s great to have your recollections of this.
I’ve always thought the strech of the south circ from Grove Tavern to Catford was the worst bit (the Putney bit is the other contender) so pulling it out at Malham Industrial Estate would only slightly ease the issue.
Better trains is usually the answer because if you build more roads peope use them and they become full
The South Circular Assessment Study lasted over a number of years and involved the whole of South London.
It was a very expensive exercise carried out by Travers Perkins, funded by the Department of Transport. I’ve just looked at the summer 1985 Sydenham Society News letter
It involved cut and cover tunnels to get the traffic below ground. Protests about the plans came in from every quarter throughout South London.
Quite right too. In any case, as John Wilson says, building roads to encourage more people to drive cars is yesterday’s agenda.
Indeed. Better to take measures to discourage car use.
A cycle tunnel would still be cool, for those that don’t love the hill! Or perhaps two tunnels, one for each direction and each with ventilation providing a guaranteed tail wind too. And no pot holes!
Thanks for the interesting insight @pattrembath. I never realised this study existed, and I’m going to read up on it.
Interesting to see the progress on tunnelling projects in America. As Elon Musk writes:
Problems that come with population density will continue to worsen in London due to housebuilding (madness), so a more efficient network for vehicles is required. We all rely on vehicles, whether directly or indirectly. We need novel solutions, as opposed to zero-sum thinking.
If roads can be squirreled away underground and dedicated to vehicles, it might address some of the arguments raised by the anti-motorist lobby.
It’s a pity non-drivers seem unable to peacefully share the overground road network, but sadly territorial and tribal behaviour is human nature, and this seems to get uglier as population density increases.
I kinda agree - build the tunnels, but also work on the traffic/pollution problems at the same time. Once you have a fast route, you can upgrade what runs through it, be it horses becoming cars through the Blackwall tunnel (that’s allegedly why it has some of those funny tight turns in it - to prevent horses bolting when they saw daylight), or Steam locomotives being replaced with electric locos on the District line (some history here: https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2019/03/23/steam-trains-to-return-to-the-london-underground-2/). Subterranean cycle super-highways sound like a lot of fun, though perhaps we could also accommodate something like the Segway Hoverchair idea for the less able-bodied.
I think Elon is going to have to work very hard to bring the cost per km of tunnels down enough for us to see them appear in London boroughs any time soon!
Umm sorry? State of that comment.
The relationship between drivers and pedestrians is not an equal one, so when sharing space that has to be considered - usually favour of the pedestrian. Driving involves pushing a lot of negative externalities - noise, pollution, danger of being hit on to pedestrians.
Anyway the expereince of sixties urban planning shows confining one form of traffic under ground or in highwalks does not make for a good area.
It’s already considered in the design of the road network. Pedestrians have pavements and vehicles have roads. Is that really so controversial?
Yes, I agree pollution needs to be addressed, which is why I drive a zero emission vehicle and urge others to do similar. Rather than creating a tribal “them vs us” mentality against motorists, we need to solve the problems of congestion and pollution together in a positive way.
Have you seen modern examples like the High Line in NYC?
Unfortunately, Chris, when you cut and cover in London people are living in houses on narrow roads and are inconvenienced - just think of Stanstead Road leading from FH to Catford. The tunnel under Hornman Gardens was a great idea. Unfortunately when it hits the other end, it confronts families living in the houses. SCAS is quite a tome and mind-boggling with dual carriage ways up Southend Lane and Sydenham Road - and that was just immediately Sydenham’s local problem with the plans. Still it kept a lot of traffic engineers well paid for a number of years!
Improved public transport, and car sharing is probably the way to go for quite a lot of us.
Re FH - my great hope back in 2001 was to make the shopping area the Perry Vale side of the station, which has a decent sized car park - could have had flats (could still have) flats built over - lot of wasted space not being used. My wonderful new shopping area, which could even have been pedestrianised, was built over by flats. Nobody stands back and looks at spaces or listens when such suggestions are put forward.
I’m no civil engineer but I do know that tunnelling through clay creates more vibrations than when tunnelling through more unstable strata. These vibrations would almost certainly lead to numerous claims for compensation from homeowners whose buildings’ foundations have been compromised by industrial tunnelling. Can’t see a tunnel being bored through Forest Hill in my lifetime.
Technology is improving and I think this is one of the areas Elon’s ‘Boring Company’ is trying to address - making boring machines cheaper than cut n cover, and also minimising surface impact. Surface disruption is mentioned in a couple of places in their FAQ: https://www.boringcompany.com/faq
Of course that’s just the marketing. And it also says it is aiming for $10 million per mile
Wasn’t most of the cost of Crossrail working out where to put stuff? Dodging around all those other inconvenient things like buildings and tube lines. Of course we don’t have those issues in SE London - no tube lines! You could put the fares up by £2 a journey and the tunnel would be paid off in a year
And a lot of monitoring buildings for movement…
I don’t believe they are using the latest tech which The Boring company is proposing, though the type of tunnel Crossrail require may be a bit different (bigger).
@pattrembath I can’t help thinking the station, the triangle with forest hill cars and the car park in the industrial estate are all badly under utilised.
The station could easily be restored to a 4 platform station (it once was) by widening the bridge and extending the current platform out towards perry vale. Or if you want to be ambitious have the road go straight under the station from the hill and bear left - gets rid of the dangerous double bend and you can have a town centre feel where Waldren Cresent is - plus the station gets a much needed upgrade
Except that, as we’ve covered in the thread on the pedestrian crossing at the station and the fact that it’s taken 20+ years to get a crossing at Cox’s Walk, until very recently, the road network has been focused on making cars have the easiest possible journey and if that inconveniences pedestrians, then tough.
Cars, vans, lorries, motorcycles all have valuable place and few people would call for them to be abolished but there’s an argument that continuing to build roads hasn’t made traffic move more any more quickly over the years; it just expands to fill the new space. So reducing unnecessary motorised trips can only help make essential ones more pleasant while easing the journeys of those choosing other means of transport.
This argument seems odd to me.
Traffic only expands to fill supply while there is under-supplied demand.
If ISPs decided “we’re not raising speeds in case more people use the network” we’d never have realised all the economic benefits of the Internet.
It’s incumbent upon those who manage infrastructure to meet demand. If they don’t, they’re failing us.
The issues around air pollution and pedestrian safety are questions we need to address. But not by nobbling the vital road network for all who rely on it (notably, emergency services)
Chris - a simple example of supply vs under supplied demand. It will always be quicker to drive than to take public transport if the roads are clear because of direct routing. Train fares in this country are expensive (whole other argument) so driving is cheaper. So if you supplied enough roads noone would ever take public transport - BUT London would be with road or car park - not much in the way of actual stuff
ISPs do occassionally take that route (it is called throttling) but also they are on a paid per use basis whereas roads are on a eat as much as you like basis.
Using the emergency services is a bit of a poor example - they are a light road user generally over very short distances
Agree on your points … however:
Adding a minute (or ten) to emergency services journeys can make the difference between life and death - so some of the anti-motorist strategies being proposed will literally cost lives.
And this, while the trend is that road accident fatalities have fallen significantly.
Wasn’t there talk a few years back that there was going to be a branch of the DLR extension that ran from Catford to Forest Hill. Nothing was really explained about how it was going to be done but tunneling was mentioned.
Meanwhile Forest Hill lost the peak time direct trains to East Croydon to make space for Thameslink services
Just for argument’s sake: Who holds a driver’s licence? Had mine since 2003.
I think the pandemic and post-pandemic period will see a rise in private transport. Diesel and petrol engines may be priced out in cities, but traffic will not be disappearing. Our household has one small car which haven’t used much over the past few months, but we’ve had loads more deliveries - probably 90% by diesel vans.
That remains the practice in Lewisham, despite the green-wash virtue-signalling of some councillors.
Interesting comments and ideas here. Perhaps bringing more of a ‘circular’ principle to rail/tube transport extensions in London would help. One of the Orange line successes has been connecting South to East London, for example. Could also see such an approach helping to reduce ‘needless’ car journeys.
@Adrian I agree with the concept I used to live in Wimbledon and it was a nightmare to use public transport between FH and there.
Sadly FH isn’t poor enough to get political points for improving the transport (like Lewisham has DLR, Mainline and a bus station - add adding Bakerloo) - or rich enough to influence (Woolwich Arsenal - Crossrail 1 - Wimbledon Crossrail 2). So we won’t see any benefit of the new lines they even think of
Interesting points John - I’m originally from Wimbledon and agree it’s a pain to cross South London. I think a Brockley Interchange was one scheme the Council was looking at, but not sure what became of that.
I think we should campaign for a tramline round the South Circular to connect the radial transport routes.
The Croydon trams are brilliant and they can go round tight bends.
…occasionally too fast, sadly. But they also don’t run on roads do they. Or not usually up steep hills (do the San Francisco ones use cogs?) I can’t see trams and cars co-existing on the South Circular like they do on other European cities’ roads. You normally need at least 2 lanes in each direction.
Strangely enough I just renewed my photo card one (so much simpler these days) and thought that I’m not actually sure I’ve driven since the last time I renewed it. I’ve had my license since the early 90s but it’s very clean and shiny since it’s rarely used. I’d probably want a refresher lesson or two if I had to start driving regularly again! As a cyclist though, I think my road awareness is generally pretty good which is usually the tougher thing to acquire.
The San Francisco ones have moving steel cables that run under the streets. If it’s quiet, you can hear/see the cable moving if you stand directly over it. There are cable stations along the route that wind the cables around huge drums and keep them moving. The cable cars have a gripper mechanism that reaches down and picks up the cable when it wants to move - and the driver (gripman) puts the brake on and disengages when it stops.
Could have sworn blind I had photos of it but here’s the Cable Car museum I went to and saw it running
The Croydon trams run on a closed railway line most of the way though so the land didn’t have to be purchased/taken away from road use - and apparently they now carry more people than that line ever did. Putting in new tram lines costs millions (see Edinburgh).
There used to be a trolley bus service to Forest Hill, with overhead electrification. There may even be pictures on this site, but I don’t know where.
Yes but private car ownership was a fraction of what it is now. Also tram lines are dangerous for cyclists hence buses are a logistical replacement. Especially as they move towards electric power
Unsure whether tunnels were a serious suggestion, but they’d be great for Forest Hill (if we have a few hundred million pounds to spend from the appropriate transport budgets - which seems unlikely unfortunately)
Unlike LTN blockages/disruption, tunnels would bring benefits to all residents.
Perhaps if the bypass is built largely under existing roads, it could be constructed using cut-and-cover, which would be cheaper?
Cut and cover wouldn’t be entirely appropriate as part of the design needs to remove the London Road / Devonshire Road junction and straighten the road, and it needs to go under Sydenham Woods, which would have plenty of protests if cut and cover was attempted (but it would be pretty cheap if you didn’t mind the environmental damage and were prepared to reforest the area that was not entirely woodland 150 years ago). Probably better just to spend a few extra 100s of millions.
Given the popularity of LTNs, massive government debts, ultra-low interest rates, and a desire for infrastructure investment, this isn’t as mad an idea as it seems. If the government can reduce interest rates by a few more tenths of a percent, then they can borrow money and make a profit on the negative interest rate - the money money they borrow, the more money they make. But something tells me this is a recipe for long-term economic disaster.
The other problem with cut and cover is that it would result in months/years of massive disruption to the high street, which would probably kill off any businesses that weren’t already finished off by Covid lockdowns
Without wishing to dive too far down this rabbit hole, a negative base rate would only be used by the Bank of England to encourage consumer spending. I don’t think negative base rates imply the government would be able to borrow money at negative interest rates (i.e. issue bonds with negative coupons). Bonds with negative coupons are an anomaly that only exists in the rare case that investors think prevaling rates will fall further (and that’s unlikely to happen, as any government foray into a negative base rate is likely to be shortlived)
Moved from the Devonshire, Tyson, Ewelme Traffic Volume thread as it’s more relevant here.
Quite. A negative base rate would mean The Bank would be willing to pay to lend money in the overnight market.
There are several reasons cut-and-cover wouldn’t work:
(i) it would destroy the road it’s intended to replace, before the replacement is ready for use (goodbye South Circular and all who use her: through traffic, local traffic, bus routes, emergency services, local businesses’ stock deliveries; pedestrians);
(ii) the tunnel would be wider than the existing road, so the construction trench would necessitate the demolition of all the buildings alongside the road;
(iii) to build the tunnel at roughly the same level of the road at the tunnel entrance/exit, the trenches through any hills would have to be, what, 20-30 metres deep?
Unfortunately we don’t have a public champion of the idea yet. I’m not sure why not, except maybe the general lack of vision and leadership from our political representatives whose best offer is hand-wringing. The channel tunnel was regarded as crazy but now no-one remembers life without it. If Forest Hill was a town centre out of London, there would have been a by-pass built decades ago. In urban areas, you have elevated sections or tunnels to choose from.
Private transport is not going away, even if electric vehicles become the standard.