26 September 2009

Train Services

The East London Line is creeping closer to Forest Hill and changes are already underway. From 20th September, Transport for London will take over the management of the stations on our line including Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill. Already at Forest Hill we are seeing the old footbridge replaced with a new one with lifts to both platforms. But the picture is not all positive.

Most importantly, we are expecting East London Line trains to start running to Forest Hill from June 2010 or possibly a bit earlier. We expect these to comprise four carriages from the start of operations.

But on the railway system every silver lining appears to have a cloud and we have learnt that Southern Railways intends to cut some services from Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park from December this year. This is in spite of intense lobbying by the Forest Hill Society and Sydenham Society over the last two years.

From December 2009, we will no longer have any services to or from Charing Cross. All trains to Forest Hill will start or terminate at London Bridge. Southern claim that their sister company, South Eastern, requires the tracks between Charing Cross and London Bridge for Kent services. But at off-peak evening times there is clearly spare capacity on these lines, just as there is today for our direct services from Charing Cross.

From May next year, Southern is planning to reduce daytime off-peak services to Forest Hill from 6 trains per hour to 4 trains per hour. This is not a disaster as it is relatively recently that these services were increased to 6 per hour, and at off peak they are not entirely full. However, in the last month we have confirmed with Southern that it is not just the off-peak services that will be affected - THEY ARE PLANNING TO CUT PEAK EVENING SERVICES AS WELL. This decrease to 4 trains per hour will hit passengers travelling all day after 9am, right through the evening peak. Frequent users of these evening services will confirm that they are already running at maximum capacity, and the removal of 30% of trains is likely to be a real problem for passengers from London Bridge.

The Forest Hill Society has asked Southern to reconsider these cuts to our services and we have been speaking to politicians to see what can be done before the all important date of May 2010, when we lose 30% of our trains.

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