London Bridge is a dark, cramped, overcrowded and poorly designed station. It is by no means an adequate gateway into the capital and often adds to the misery of what are (all too frequently) unreliable services for those travelling into central London from Blackheath, Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich or Plumstead.
Its redevelopment as part of the Thameslink Programme will therefore be welcomed by many that hope that it will provide for an increase in the punctuality and reliability of services and a transport hub that is more spacious, better connected and easier to navigate.
However, managing the associated disruption to Greenwich line passengers during the redevelopment phase is going to be a major challenge and it’s crucial that everything feasible is done to mitigate it.
A concerted effort by local community groups (particularly the Charlton and Greenwich Line Rail Users’ Groups) and elected representatives over the past 12-16 months has won a series of concessions that will go some way to mitigating the worst effects of the rebuild. Yet a series of issues remain unresolved.
I’ve therefore written to Network Rail, Southeastern and Transport for London this week about the impact of the redevelopment on residents:
“Further to my previous correspondence regarding the need to do everything possible to mitigate any disruption to residents caused by the redevelopment of London Bridge station, I’m writing to request an update on the following:
London Cannon Street station
Having received assurances from Travel Demand Management Board (TDM) representatives that the opening hours of Cannon Street station will be extended later into the evenings and at weekends from January 2015 to match the current evening and weekend opening hours of Charing Cross, could you please confirm whether the extension of evening and weekend opening hours at Cannon Street London Underground station will match those of Cannon Street station?
Timetabling and length of trains
Southeastern’s recently published draft timetable makes clear that three fewer trains will operate on the Greenwich line during the evening peak period from January 2015. I appreciate that there is no scope for additional services during this period given that the Greenwich line will be serviced by a train approximately every 10 minutes from Cannon Street/London Bridge. However, it’s important that there is no overall loss of capacity between 16.30 and 18.30 when trains are at their busiest. Could you therefore let me know:
1) What length of trains will be run in the 16.30 – 18.30 period?
2) Have the technical issues been resolved that will allow 12 car trains to be run through the Greenwich Line in this peak time period?
3) If 12 car trains are to operate in the peak period will passengers that live in Woolwich but are unable to alight from 12 car trains at Woolwich Dockyard and must therefore disembark at Woolwich Arsenal be compensated for the additional Zone 4 fee that will be incurred as a result?
4) What impact will any redistribution of carriages to maintain capacity during the peak period have on services off peak?
5) What thought has been given to a publicity campaign to persuade passengers to travel, wherever possible, outside of the 16.30 – 18.30 peak period?
6) The draft timetable indicates that from January 2015 evening services between 21.00 and 23.00 will be based on irregular 10-20-10-20 minute intervals between trains rather than regular 15 minutes intervals. Why is this and can consideration be given to maintaining regular service intervals?
In previous correspondence you stated that it is your aim that “passengers should not be out of pocket while we are undertaking these crucial works”. To that end I understand that the TDM have agreed in principle that customers diverted to Cannon Street (or Charing Cross) will be allowed to travel back on the tube to London Bridge, Waterloo East, Charing Cross or Cannon Street as necessary at no additional cost pending final sign-off from the Department for Transport (DfT) who will provide the funding. Can I therefore ask:
1) Since our last exchange of correspondence in May what progress has been made in terms of the DfT signing-off on the funding required to ensure that passengers are not out of pocket during these works? If the DfT have not yet signed-off the necessary funding, when do you expect them to make a final decision on the matter?
2) Has TfL agreed in principle to cover the cost of any additional bus journeys (e.g. the RV1 or 381 from London Bridge to Waterloo) that might be required from January 2015 as a result of the works?
3) Will the cost of DLR journeys from Greenwich to Lewisham (which are routinely not charged during periods when engineering works are taking place) be covered?
4) Will the cost of eastward journeys on the Greenwich line from Greenwich, Maze Hill or Westcombe Park to Charlton to pick up the trains to Charing Cross (a recognised route during the Olympics) be covered?
5) Has the TDM had a chance to consider what arrangements might be made with Thames Clipper to incentivise river travel during the redevelopment period and so reduce pressure on the Greenwich line?
6) Will publicity be made available at stations and in timetables to direct passengers to alternative routes that might be available at no extra cost?
Greenwich line passenger communications
I remain concerned that despite your efforts to provide passengers with information about the impending disruption to Greenwich Line services, awareness among residents in the area remains low. I strongly urge you to consider an extensive communications campaign over the coming months at every station along the Greenwich Line during the morning and evening peak to raise awareness among those who will be affected”.
Hopefully we’ll get answers to all of the above in the coming weeks.