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22 December 2010

A Traveller's Tale

With recent reports that ridership on the East London Line has increased from 40,000 per day in June to 70,000 in October, we thought we would see how the morning commute had changed since the introduction of the Overground services. Are trains any less crowded? The Chair of our Transport Committee, Andrew Reid, decided to see for himself.

08.14 – Honor Oak Park Station. My wife and I boarded the rear carriage of the 08.14 Southern service to London Bridge. She took the last available seat and I was left standing with a number of others. The back of the train was not overcrowded but I was told the front would be. Certainly, the opening of the Overground has relieved pressure on Southern services and, whilst pretty full, the service is generally acceptable except when they run short trains.

08.24 – New Cross Gate. I needed to change onto the Overground at New Cross Gate. I found I couldn’t get on the packed 0824 to Dalston Junction from Crystal Palace and was left, with others, on the platform. The next train, the 0832, had come from West Croydon and was also packed – this time, no doubt, with the lucky people of Anerley and Penge who have seen their service level triple from 2 trains an hour to 6. We all just managed to squeeze on at New Cross Gate but we left people standing on the platform at Surrey Quays. Frightening that this service, open for just 6 months, is already running beyond capacity during the morning peak. Opening the service to Clapham Junction in 2012 will result in more trains running on the core section of the East London Line – but will more travel options reduce congestion? I doubt it.

08.37 - Canada Water. I found I was standing on the train just opposite the single escalator down to the Jubilee Line platform. The carriage emptied in a flash as passengers sprinted for the escalator in order to avoid the crush and get to the front of the queues for Jubilee Line trains. There were queues to board trains in both directions with staff valiantly trying to get the doors closed and the trains despatched as people shoved to get on their way to work. I didn’t envy them and didn’t join them. I made my way back to Forest Hill station to confirm that, despite all the promises, the lights on the northern side of the subway were still not working!

Rest assured, the Transport Committee is doing what it can to improve the lot of Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park travellers. If you have any comments or issues you would like pursued, please email me at Andrew@ForestHillSociety.com.

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