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02 November 2009

Letter to South London Press

Below is the text of a letter published in the South London Press from the Forest Hill Society, other local civic societies, and local councillors.

Dear Sir,
We are deeply concerned by the proposed deep cuts to already overcrowded train services run by Southern Railways via Sydenham, Forest Hill, Honor Oak Park, Brockley and New Cross Gate. Passengers are rightly outraged by these cuts and concerned that an already overcrowded and unpleasant commute will turn into a daily nightmare.
We welcome the introduction of the East London Line extension which is due to start in May 2010, but local residents were promised by Transport for London that existing services would not be cut once the East London Line became operational. These promises have been broken. From December all direct evening services to and from Charing Cross will be stopped. From May 2010 Southern intend to cut 1/3 of all main line services during the day and most importantly during the evening rush hours.
Over 11 million people used this train service in the years 2007/8 and Department for Transport figures and Transport for London figures all show that this line has suppressed capacity of up to 40%. In other words, were train services to improve the numbers of people using this line would increase significantly. The argument put forward by rail bosses that passengers will immediately transfer to the East London Line do not stack up. Improved services will create extra demand for all services, not less.
As representatives of Local Residents Groups, Locally elected politicians and as Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee we have written to the Minister at the Department of Transport requesting an urgent meeting on these issues. The Department of Transport sets the requirements of the Train contracts that train operators have to run. It is the Department of Transport who can resolve this problem. Both TFL and Southern have made it clear that solutions must come from the Government Department. We have asked the Minster to travel on an evening peak time train service with us to see for himself how overcrowded it is. The Department must take responsibility for this issue, engage with local residents, and provide solutions to their concerns.
Kind Regards
Lewisham Councillors:
John Russell; Philip Peake and Alex Feakes - Liberal Democrat Councillors Forest Hill Ward.
Dean Walton; Romayne Phoenix and Darren Johnson - Green Councillors Brockley Ward.
Chris Best, Marion Nisbet and Seamus McDermott - Labour Councillors Sydenham Ward
Susan Wise, John Paschoud, -Labour Councillors Perry Vale Ward
Local Residents Groups:
Richard Hibbert, Chair; Michael Abrahams; Tony Petim - Forest Hill Society
Tim Lund, Chair - Sydenham Society Executive Committee
Malcolm Bacchus- Telegraph Hill Society
London Assembly Members:
Caroline Pidgeon AM - Chair, London Assembly Transport Committee.

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