17 September 2007

Rail Utilisation Strategy

This summer Network Rail published the Rail Utilisation Strategy (RUS) for South London. This official consultation document explores a number of options for improving rail transport in South London with mixed news for Forest Hill passengers.

Some positive recommendations from the RUS:

  • Longer trains through Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park to London Bridge (up to 10 carriage trains compared to the current average of 7 carriages per train during peak hours)
  • Need for increased trains even after the introduction of the new East London Line Services
  • Trains will continue to operate to Victoria from Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park
  • The East London Line Extension will provide an additional 6 trains per hour from Forest Hill through to Hoxton, finally putting Forest Hill on the 'tube' map

However there is also plenty of bad news:

  • Longer trains will not be introduced until the Thameslink service is upgraded and significant work is done to London Bridge station. Until then (which is at least 7 years away) they recommend running only 8 carriages trains during the peak
  • Direct services from Forest Hill to Charing Cross and Waterloo East will no longer be available
  • Trains service to London Bridge will be reduced (from 8 to 6 trains during the rush hour) with the introduction of the East London Line in 2011
  • East London Line trains will only have 4 carriages
  • With 'surplus demand' on our line and expected increases in passengers numbers, trains will become more overcrowded on our line

The Forest Hill Society have already expressed our concerns to MPs, our GLA member, local councillors, Lewisham Council officials, Transport for London, Network Rail, Southern Railways, and local radio. Jim Dowd MP has asked questions and even dedicated a debate to the future of our train services.

If you have not done so already, we urge you to sign our petition at http://fhpetition.notlong.com which already has over 900 signatures, and we will continue to fight to:

a) Keep our existing services to London Bridge
b) Call for 10 car trains at the earliest opportunity
c) Keep existing evening and weekend services from Charing Cross
to Forest Hill

According to Network Rail estimates, if there were space on the trains today there would be an extra 40% of people using our services to London Bridge
. We already have a poor quality train service and their proposals only make things worse for us. The Forest Hill Society shall be opposing the current recommendations and we hope you will support us, by joining the Society or by signing our petition.

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