The third tour I managed during the Construction Open Doors week of events back in June was to the site of the Bermondsey Diveunder. After visiting the (re)beginnings of a skyscraper, and a huge building development – this was something very different – a project building downwards, reusing old Victorian arches and the space between tracks on a very busy junction near London Bridge station, to allow for a “metro” frequency service into London Bridge and up through the centre of the capital to St Pancras – the so-called Thameslink Programme.
The project is building a “diveunder” – letting certain inbound services pass beneath outbound services elsewhere, so allowing a greater frequency of service. Essentially it is “grade separating” a busy junction, which happens to be part of the world’s oldest railway viaduct and once the longest viaduct of any kind, stretching over four miles from London Bridge to Greenwich.
From a historical perspective, it is nice to see that as much use of the existing, historic arches as possible is being made – the main part of the diveunder itself sitting on them until it ducks too low and they are replaced with smaller, modern ones, and eventually solid concrete. With the first big part of the new London Bridge station concourse opening up this weekend, things are starting to gear up and hopefully the extra capacity created by the diveunder will, in the short term, help to repair the currently badly suffering Southern services through the area, once it is opened in just a few short months.
The tour ended personally for me with a sour note – I returned back to find my bike was stolen. I’m happy to put South Bermondsey on my list of places to avoid in London in the future, except perhaps looking out of a train window at the new, sweeping lines that have been installed here.