An article in today’s Rail Business Daily caught my eye. Transport for London are commencing a Feasibility Study into extending the Docklands Light Railway from Beckton to Thamesmead. This is my old stomping ground, as I am a native of the London Borough of Bexley, in which (most of) Thamesmead sits. It would be the DLR’s 3rd river crossing, supplementing those at Greenwich and Woolwich, and virtually next door to the Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) tunnel at Abbey Wood. Four rail crossings under the Thames within 6 miles, and the existing 3 all built within the last 20 years, virtually the length of time we’ve been campaigning for The Northumberland Line. This made me think of the government’s “levelling up” agenda. What about a rail tunnel under the Blyth estuary, creating a 2nd Northumberland Line route with some trains diverting at Newsham, following the old alignment to a re-opened station at Blyth Town Centre, then under the river to a new station at North Blyth, onwards via the existing freight line to a new station at Cambois serving the new Britishvolt Factory, then continuing on the freight line to Marchey’s House junction, and on to Ashington?
I myself campaigned heavily for the Woolwich Rail Crossing when I lived in South East London, but I wanted it to be part of the heavy rail network, linking the North London Line (Richmond to North Woolwich as was) to the South London Line from Woolwich Arsenal through Lewisham, Peckham Rye and Clapham Junction then back round through Willesden Junction, West Hampstead and Highbury and Islington to Stratford and back to Woolwich, forming an outer London loop, interchanging with virtually every radial route out of London, thus relieving inter-London terminal tube journeys. The same tunnel could also have served the Crossrail route, meaning one less river crossing would have been required. But alas, with Network Rail’s predecessor bringing in several high-profile projects late and over-budget, and DLR delivering everything they had thus far been asked to do, on time and within budget, you can see why the Woolwich crossing was given to DLR. Nevertheless, in London it seems, sneeze and there’s a new rail river crossing. What about bringing some of that investment to the North-East?