Passengers and politicians are backing a campaign calling for Thamesmead - south east London's largest town without a train station - to finally get hooked up to the rail network.

A petition is asking for London Overground services to be extended from Barking, under the river to Thamesmead, on to Abbey Wood.

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If the extension happened it would finally give Thamesmead - a town with around 50,000 people - the rail connection it was promised around 40 years ago when a proposed Jubilee Line extension failed to materialise.

The idea was backed earlier this year by Barking and Dagenham council's leader but both Bexley and Greenwich Councils have appeared more concerned with new road crossings at the peninsula, Gallions and Belvedere.

Campaigner Darryl Chamberlain, 40, of Victoria Way, Charlton, explained: "You'll just plug Thamesmead into the rest of London.

"It's such a no brainer, I don't understand why councils south of the river aren't jumping on the bandwagon."

News Shopper: Darryl Chamberlain

Proposals have already been made for an Overground extension to Barking Riverside, where thousands of new homes are planned. But campaigners point to plans for a Thamesmead "garden city" with around 7,000 more homes - but still isolated by terrible transport links.

Mr Chamberlain, part of the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign, said: "We've got a huge amount of homes being developed on both sides of the river. People shouldn't be forced to be dependent on cars.

"The point is that even if people disagree with us on road crossings, they can still get behind a campaign for a rail crossing too."

News Shopper: Teresa Pearce is not happy about Bexley Council's decision.

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce seized on the idea, saying: "It's something that I would be very keen on. I'll take any crossing and a transport link you can give me."

She went on: "I have the longest stretch of Thames of any constituency and not a single river crossing.

"We need a proper 21st century transport system and, in my patch, we don't have one."

Bexley Council's cabinet member for environment and public realm Councillor Don Massey, said: "This particular idea appears to have a lot of merit, but there is no real detail for us to give any in depth response.

"We are, and will continue to be, working with the Mayor of London, Greater London Authority, Transport for London (TfL) and other groups to develop this and other ideas - in particular a crossing at Belvedere - into something we can fully support."

A spokeswoman for Greenwich Council said they were "continuing to press the case to Transport for London (TfL) to extend transport links to parts of the borough like Eltham and Thamesmead."

She said: "We will be addressing this matter in our response to TfL's river crossings consultation which will be published later this month".

Meanwhile, TfL's managing director of transport Michele Dix said: "The proposed extension of the London Overground to Barking Riverside is being designed not to rule out a possible onward extension towards Thamesmead and Abbey Wood."

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The thoughts of travellers

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Jayne Bird, aged 45, Greening Street, Abbey Wood
"It’s a very good idea. It will make travelling a lot easier for people travelling from Abbey Wood and Thamesmead."

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Terry Jackson, 60, Howden Close, Thamesmead
"At the moment rail links aren’t that bad. The new links are a wonderful idea for the people of Thamesmead, it will make life easier. Also, environmentally, it will be better than driving."