Showing posts with label Thameslink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thameslink. Show all posts

27 September 2015

Coming Down the Line

Network chaos
Since the last newsletter in the spring, train services have improved considerably — well, they really couldn’t have gotten much worse, after half of the evening peak services from London Bridge were cancelled between January and May of this year due to poor planning of services around London Bridge station’s improvements. Since May’s timetable changes, Southern trains have managed to run on a relatively reliable schedule, although there still continues to be more cancellations than anyone would like to see.

As a result of the appalling service at the beginning of the year, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) severely criticised Network Rail for their inadequacies in planning for the impact of Thameslink’s engineering work and timetabling. The ORR subsequently fined them £2m, which is not a great deal for a company that receives a £10m per day subsidy from the taxpayer; no doubt, any higher a fine would only have made it harder to achieve passenger improvements. In addition, the chairman of Network Rail was sacked and Sir Peter Hendy, one of the most respected managers in UK transportation and who had been head of Transport for London (TfL), was appointed as his successor this summer. We can only hope that Network Rail will now improve services.

The Forest Hill Society had been asking questions about changes to ticketing and timetabling — which would occur during Thameslink’s planned upgrade work at London Bridge station — for the four preceding years. Despite our continued expressions of concern, Network Rail and train operators proved that they had not adequately planned for the chaos that was to result from the temporary removal of so many tracks into or out of the station.

On a positive note, work around Bermondsey appears to be progressing well; and, this time next year, train services should be running to and from Charing Cross again albeit without direct services to and from Forest Hill (as was once the case).

Bakerloo line
You may remember, at the end of last year, TfL consulted about plans for a Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham and Hayes; and, possibly, Bromley. Not surprisingly, 96% of 15,000 respondents were in favour of such plans. Notable amongst the 4% who opposed TfL’s plans was Bromley Council, which was concerned about slower connections to London for people who would use the proposed extension to Hayes. Despite the objections, the idea of extending the Bakerloo line seems to be gaining traction, with many candidates for 2016’s London mayoral election expressing their support for the concept.

Recently, mutterings have been heard from Croydon Council about a different route for the Bakerloo line that would run to Croydon. Why this is necessary, when there are fast services from Croydon to most main line stations in London, is not clear at this stage. The location for such a route is also not clear but, given the congestion around Norwood, it is possible that tunnelling close to Croydon is being considered rather than taking over busy tracks and junctions - but all of this is speculation.

The Forest Hill Society continues to support the concept of extending the Bakerloo line. Our belief is that almost any route would be advantageous to large areas of South London, and the sooner an extension is started the better!

21 June 2013

Transport Update

The refurbishment work in the Forest Hill Subway is now almost complete. Walls are painted, panelling in place, steps improved and the guttering is massively improved. But users of the subway will have noticed gaps in the panelling between the lights as the work is not yet finished.

We are expecting Skanska to complete the installation of new lighting in the subway in July and then the final panelling can be put in place with improved lighting.

In the last edition we reported that as well as extra carriages on the East London Line trains (five carriages rather than four), there  would also be additional trains to Crystal Palace. This was based on a draft Business Plan produced by Transport for London in December. However, since that time it has become clear that although orders have been placed for the additional carriages, the extra trains may not be in the immediate plan for capacity improvements.

The timetable for the East London Line has been built with two gaps where additional services could be squeezed in every hour, giving us 10 trains to Canada Water rather then the current 8 trains, as well as the 6 trains to London Bridge at peak and 4 off-peak.

The Forest Hill Society believes that demand for East London Line trains justifies the increase in services as well as the lengthening of trains.

We are also concerned about recent rumours regarding the availability of trains in 2015-2016, while the Thameslink work takes place. It is possibly that this may include a year with no weekend services to London Bridge or Victoria, as well as some other cuts to services during weekdays. If true, these cancellations would place a huge strain on the East London Line, especially if additional trains are not being provided.
We will be pressing for the minimum reduction of service possible and some imaginative solutions to any reduction to capacity on the line to London Bridge. We know this is not just a problem that worries us but it also worries rail operators.

We will keep you informed of developments as details become available.

In other developments, Boris Johnson has started making more positive noises about a possible extension to the Bakerloo line. This issue was raised by Forest Hill Society vice chairman, Michael Abrahams, at People’s Question Time when Boris was in Catford.

Lewisham have already produce a viability report which prefers a route via the Old Kent Road to Lewisham, Catford, and possibly beyond. It now looks like TfL will be producing a report of their own to look at the economic benefit of the Bakerloo line extension and other transport enhancements in South East London.

At a time when the government is being encouraged to spend money on infrastructure projects, the Bakerloo line is one that makes economic sense to develop as soon as possible. It would be a boost to London’s economy and would benefit South East London for decades to come.

23 August 2012

Thameslink Franchise

The Forest Hill Society has submitted a response to the combined Thameslink and Southern Franchise document provided by the Department for Transport.

Summary of Our Recommendations

1.                 Thameslink stopping service on the Sydenham corridor as outlined in the 2007 Route Utilisation Strategy.
2.                 Continued connections from Forest Hill to East Croydon.
3.                 Plans for the introduction of 12 carriage trains on the Sydenham corridor.
4.                 Minimum services frequencies of 4 trains per hour at Crofton Park.
5.                 Inclusion of minimum specification for off-peak services, including maximising the central Thameslink corridor beyond the primary Thameslink routes.

Full submission can be read at

12 March 2012

Thameslink Extension - Good or Bad?

From 2019 the Thameslink extension will greatly improve services from London Bridge to Kings Cross and beyond. How will this affect us? Today developments can be seen above Borough Market where a new viaduct is being constructed to relieve congestion on this section of tracks.

In 2008 the South London Route Utilisation Strategy recommended that Thameslink services should stop at Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill and other stations on our line, replacing 4 out of 6 of our existing peak services. This gave us hope of a direct trains to Kings Cross, possibly all the way to Bedford.

However, Network Rail and the Department for Transport no longer appear to favour Thameslink services stopping at Forest Hill. Although no final decision has been made, all reference to stations between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction has been removed from information about the Thameslink upgrade programme and renewing franchises. Without public consultation a decision may have been made.

Commuters and/or passengers would still be able to benefit from increased interchange opportunities at London Bridge after 2019, which should improve journey times to Kings Cross and other parts of the City. However we are not sure if there will continue to be any direct services to East Croydon, or if all the East Croydon trains will be fast to London Bridge, possibly with a stop at Norwood Junction. We already have some trains via East Croydon and these are very useful for passengers heading to Gatwick Airport, an additional change at Norwood Junction as well as East Croydon would increase the inconvenience for many people on our line.

In the short term there is a threat that services into London Bridge may be reduced in frequency, with more 10 carriage trains to partially compensate. The reason for this is the rebuild of London Bridge Station. As a result there will be fewer terminating platforms, particularly during the redevelopment. Previously the suggestion in the Route Utilisation Strategy was that the Forest Hill services should be extended to 12 carriages and reduced to four trains per hour (even in the morning peak). Since then some of our Southern trains have been extended to 10 carriages but many still run with 8 or less during peak times. Evening services have already been cut back to four p/h, although there are six p/h in the morning.

Perhaps we shouldn't complain too much... We have more trains to more destinations. This year we started to get longer trains - up to 10 carriages, and it seems increasingly likely that East London Line trains will be increased from four to five carriages. Our services are now slightly less crowded. Lifts are planned for Honor Oak Park.

But it does seem that ignoring Forest Hill from the Thameslink programme is a missed opportunity. Instead of increasing direct destinations for an area of South London, the Thameslink trains will only directly benefit the Home Counties. We should probably be thankful that the old Thameslink carriages (with little legroom) may be distributed to our line to increase the length of our trains.

* We would like to see Thameslink trains serving our community directly;
* We value the direct connection to East Croydon;
* We strongly oppose any permanent loss of service and are concerned at any temporary loss of service, due to the inconvenience that this will cause;
* If Thameslink trains don't call at Forest Hill then there is even more reason for reinstating the late evening and weekend Charing Cross service;
* We would like to see more trains in peak hours extended to 10 carriages with further consideration to 12 carriage trains as demand dictates.

07 April 2008

Good news for Rail Services

For over a year the Forest Hill Society has been campaigning against any reduction to services from Forest Hill to London Bridge. At the end of March the final version of the Route Utilisation Strategy was published and this document has included many of the recommendations put forward by the Society.

The final version of the RUS document can be viewed on the Network Rail website.

  1. Same level of service to London Bridge from Forest Hill over the peak period.
  2. Additional trains to London Bridge from Honor Oak Park (all services from Forest Hill will be stopping service).
  3. Introduction of peak services to Victoria via Crystal Palace.
  4. Early implementation of train lengthening, from the current 6-8 carriages in the peak up to 12 carriages. This is planned to be implemented by 2012.
  5. 10 trains per hour on the East London Line (an increase from the 8 trains planned).
  6. Thameslink services at peak times taking passengers from Forest Hill north of London Bridge. These services will start in 2015.
One note of caution, it is likely that between 2012 and 2015 there will be a reduction in services to London Bridge. This will be partially off set by longer trains and alternative routes via the East London Line, but it seems worthwhile to get ThamesLink services from our stations from 2015.

Thanks to the campaign we have been running we will get more trains, longer trains, and an increase in choice of destinations. All of these issues were identified in our submission to Network Rail, although we had not actually requested Thameslink trains stopping at Forest Hill. This is a welcome increase to services and good news for the people of Forest Hill.

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 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.