The Anonymous Widower

I’m Voting For Balham

There is a controversy as to whether Crossrail 2 should call at Balham or Tooting Broadway stations on the Northern Line. There is even a website called Crossrail 2: Balham Or Tooting? This is said.

Our local station had been planned at Tooting Broadway, but Transport for London (TfL) has discovered difficult ground conditions under Tooting and is thinking of moving the station to Balham.

Tooting was originally chosen as it is more in need of the economic boost and better rail connectivity that Crossrail 2 will bring. However, by moving the station to Balham the cost of Crossrail 2 will be less and surface disruption during construction will be reduced.

I went to Balham station today, as I needed to get a train to Victoria after my walk in Kennington. That may seem strange, but the Victoria Line wasn’t running.

Balham Station

Balham Station

So why am I voting for Balham?

  • I have talked to one of TfL’s engineers and he convinced me about the ground conditions at Tooting.
  • Tooting would give good connections South on the Northern Line, which I already have from Angel.
  • Balham could be developed into a larger four-platform station with multiple connections.

In my mind though, Balham will always be the Gateway to the South.

But we all know that the objections to Balham, are because it would shut the Waitrose.


November 13, 2016 - Posted by | News | ,


  1. Welcome to the Gateway to the South! (belatedly, as I have only just come across your site.)

    Like you, I am in favour of the Balham option because of the national rail connectivity it would offer, allowing relief of Victoria as well as of Waterloo. The Tube/CR2/mainline rail interchange at Balham will be restricted to one site, and will essentially be vertical, limiting the likelihood of congestion in the centre of Balham (our bus services aren’t up to much and mainly parallel the Tube route). To cope with increased interchange activity, the station would have to be completely rebuilt, to eliminate the stairs from the street to the Underground ticket hall, to enlarge/remove the cramped dog-leg corridor leading to the mainline platforms, and to widen the the stairs to the fast line platforms, restoring the canopy and seating etc. The island platform sometimes has to be closed because of overcrowding, and the stairs to the platform can be a real hazard at peak times, so another exit would be required at the country end of the station. The work would be disruptive, but achievable.

    At Tooting Broadway the interchange will be Tube/CR2/bus, and the latter mode adds a real complication. The pavements are already overcrowded around the bus stops as well as between the stops and the station, which has an exit on only one side of the street. Adding in tens of thousands more people shuffling between station and buses will be unsupportable unless the town centre is radically redesigned with demolition of most of the existing buildings to create a Stratford-style transport interchange. I am not greatly persuaded by arguments that CR2 will help the regeneration of Tooting, as the down-at-heel areas are nowhere near T Broadway station. Nor do I think much of the St George’s Hospital argument, as most hospital users are from the local area, so being connected to the Lea Valley or Chessington is irrelevant. What we desperately need (and I speak from bitter experience after an eye operation) is a safe walking route from T Broadway station to the hospital. Not glamorous, but of far more practical use to patients and staff than CR2.

    My biggest objection is to CR2 itself. It’s simply a white elephant, based on the Chelsea-Hackney scheme but actually dating back to the 1940s Greater London Plan. In those days there were only ships, not offices, in Docklands; only military aircraft flew from Heathrow; there were no computers or home-working; south London was working class and mostly far from desirable; for serious shopping you went to the West End not Bluewater or Westfield; work was in the City not Canary Wharf; entertainment was in the West End, not online. Our city and our lives have changed out of all recognition since the 1940s, yet here we have a multi-billion-pound rail scheme that is predicated on taking people to Chelsea (hardly in need of regeneration, surely!) and Tottenham Court Road instead of Docklands and Heathrow.

    What will happen, I fear, is that commuters from Surrey and the SW London suburbs will pour out of CR2 at Tooting or Balham and cram on to the already dangerously overloaded Northern Line, because the latter will STILL be the only direct link to the City and the places that connect to Docklands and the Thameside townships, which is where all the work is these days. We desperately need relief for the Northern Line, but heading farther east, plus a direct link to Heathrow and the other big development area, the M4 Corridor.

    When I mentioned these points to the engineers and planners at a CR2 roadshow in Balham, they just looked blank and baffled. Tellingly, they couldn’t say what percentage of passengers from the southern end of the Northern Line had end destinations that were east of Holborn and how many to the west. That distinction is important, because it determines whether you’ll switch to CR2 once it opens or stick to (or change from CR2 on to) the Northern Line. It really seemed to be a point that they hadn’t even considered, which I found alarming.

    Meanwhile our current MP and her predecessor (now London Mayor) seem to have turned the whole Balham/Tooting exercise into a partisan pro-Tooting, anti-Balham platform, forgetting that both places fall within the constituency they are meant to serve equally. And a bunch of Nappy Valley nimbies have launched a highly vocal campaign against the Balham option largely because, as you say, it will result in the loss of Waitrose and the construction will create noise and dust (ignoring the fact that, if Tooting is chosen, a ventilation shaft will destroy the iconic Tooting Market).

    Comment by Stephen Spark | December 27, 2016 | Reply

    • You make a lot of interesting points.

      I am not qualified to rule on the Tooting Balham question, as I’m from the frozen North (Cockfosters!)

      Living in Dalston now, where most of my ancestors lived, we seem to have no problems with CR2, except for some in the suicide tendency of the Labour Party, who believe in saving some of the worst hertage buildings in London.

      I think, we should prepare for CR2 by improving all of the suburban branches, so they are fit for every passenger from 0 to 110 and then see where the passengers go.

      The outcome of the works at Waterloo this year will have an effect and if Network Rail get it right, they could unlock the whole of South West London, which might mean CR2 doesn’t need to take over the suburban branches.

      I feel an alternative strategy coming on. When I write it, I’ll point you to it.

      Comment by AnonW | December 27, 2016 | Reply

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