Showing posts with label charing cross. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charing cross. Show all posts

16 December 2009

NoToTrainCuts! Article on East London Lines

The following article has just appeared on East London Lines

Funeral for last direct train to Charing Cross

Last Saturday commuters marched through Charing Cross station laden with an empty coffin to mark the end of Southern railway’s Charing Cross service.

 The protesters, many dressed in funereal black, had travelled into the West End on the last direct Sydenham to Charing Cross train.

From here on Southern services will terminate at London Bridge, forcing commuters who board at Brockley, New Cross Gate, Honor Oak Park, Sydenham and Forest Hill to change trains for Charing Cross.

Commuters opposed to the cut argue Southern’s Charing Cross service was vital to residents of southeast London, a claim supported by figures from the Office of Rail Regulation which show nearly 11 million people used that stretch of line in the 2007/8 financial year.

Dan Woods, 31, played the accordian during Saturday’s memorial. He said: “The train service has been getting increasingly worse and increasingly crowded. Now I take my bike into town. They’re doing a great job of promoting cycling by making the train service worse.”

His partner, Amy Ip, 30, added: “We’re both actors. If we’re working in town, we depend on the Charing Cross service, especially at night.”

The weekend’s protest was organisd by a collection of Lewisham civic groups angry at the service cuts. A petition for their campaign NoToTrainCuts has attracted 3,000 signatures so far.

Southern’s Charing Cross service was axed to make way for Britain’s fastest commuter train, SouthEastern’s Javelin, which shuttles between London and Kent at 140mph and began full service on Saturday.

Despite the cessation of the Southern service campaigners do not believe the battle is lost. Barry Milton, Chair of the Sydenham Society, said: “We believe we can still get the service resurrected.

“We’re trying to get the mayor of Lewisham and our MPs to go to the Department of Transport. If they want to get themselves reelected they need to get in and make them change their minds.”

Southern also plans to cut the number of trains traveling to London Bridge in the afternoons and evenings from six an hour to four to allow for the East London Line overground service due in May 2010. The ELL will run eight trains an hour.

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman said: “TfL is not cutting any services. We are in fact extending the East London Line and it is because of this Southern has decided it can afford to cut their trains as fewer people will be using them.”

Mr Milton disagreed: “We love the East London Line, it’s the best thing to happen to us for years, but it’s only going to serve 30 per cent of commuters. We believe the core service must be retained.”

Southern say the cuts are out of their hands.

Demonstration against Train Cuts on BBC TV

Saturday's demonstration against the cuts in service made it on to the BBC London news.

12 December 2009

Death of Charing Cross Direct Service

Today we bid a sad farewell to the through trains to Charing Cross.

A funeral procession, complete with coffin, will assemble on Platform 1, at 1 pm, at Forest Hill Station and will take the following train (back coach) to Charing Cross to mark our tragic loss.

13:09 - Sydenham
13:12 - Forest Hill
13:14 - Honor Oak Park
13:17 - Brockley
13:19 - New Cross Gate
13:26 - London Bridge

Ironically we will have to change trains at London Bridge due to Engineering works.

13:38 - London Bridge
13:47 - Charing Cross

Everyone affected by the unfortunate occurrence will be welcome come to the to the funeral, suitably dressed of course.

Funeral directors: Brockley Cross Action Group, the Brockley, Telegraph Hill, Sydenham and Forest Hill Societies

17 November 2009

No To Train Cuts! - The Campaign moves up a gear

Our train services are under threat again from multiple fronts.

With the cross-party support of local politicians, the Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies have been running a campaign against proposed cuts to our service on one of Southern's busiest passenger routes. We have written to the Minister of Transport, both privately and in an open letter, requesting a meeting to discuss our concerns, but while we have had a reply, he has not yet agreed to a meeting. Over 1500 people have already signed our petition.

As a result, all the civic societies along the line will be leafletting their local stations demanding action. Brockley Central, Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies handed thousands of leaflets out today and HOPRA and the Telegraph Hill Society will leaflet Honor Oak Park and New Cross Gate tomorrow. We will be encouraging all the affected commuters to sign our petition at and write to their MP (either Joan Ruddock or Jim Dowd) asking them to raise this matter with the Minister for Transport.

What are the cuts?

In December, Southern Railways plans to cease service into Charing Cross station, terminating all services at London Bridge.. This is as a result of the DfT and SouthEastern Railways agreeing to exclusive access by SouthEastern Railways (also operated by Southern Railways' parent company GoVia). Southern have tried to smuggle this change in without any announcement; there is nothing on their website regarding this change in service despite the fact that they claim to have consulted widely in their official submission to ORR, the rail regulator. This off-peak service on one of south London's busiest lines has significant demand and there was supposed to be further investigation before the service to Charing Cross was altered.

As if this wasn't bad enough, Southern Railways plan to reduce the number of trains in the afternoon and off peak which serve the Sydenham line by making the Caterham and Sutton trains fast to Norwood Junction. This means that the number of trains will be reduced from six trains an hour to four trains an hour once the East London Line starts operation in May 2010.

Southern have previously argued that the Sydenham line requires eight trains an hour formed of 12 coaches in order to have sufficient capacity to take commuters to Central London, which is where the majority wish to travel. How can a reduction from six trains an hour to four be justified (regardless of the number of coaches)? They claim that we will have additional capacity, but official modelling of demand for the East London Line service predicts severe high peak crowding from day one.

The third threat to our services comes from the possible reinstatement of the South London Line service from Victoria to either Bellingham or London Bridge. One of the options currently being considered by TfL and Passenger Focus is to cancel our loop service from London Bridge to Victoria via Crystal Palace and replace it with one via Peckham Rye instead.

26 July 2009

Loss of Charing Cross Services

Below is the text of a letter sent on behalf of the Forest Hill Society to Southern Railways:

Dear Yvonne,

I read in the Southern Stakeholder Briefing that Southern now intend to stop running direct services between Charing Cross and Forest Hill. On behalf of the Forest Hill Society I wish to express my disappointment at this decision and ask Southern to find ways to reverse this decision before December 2009 when we will lose these services.

In the 2007 draft version of the South London RUS which stated in option 20.4 (p176):
“At present 2 tph direct services operate from Charing Cross to the Sydenham line between around 19:30 and shortly after midnight. These services are very well utilised. On Sundays they operate all day.
Retaining or running additional direct trains to Charing Cross would provide improved journey opportunities for all stations on the Sydenham route and alleviate crowding at London Bridge.”

The final version of the RUS concluded that regarding this option (p145)
“Not recommended for peak services. Further investigation recommended regarding off peak services.”

It is clear that this service, which transports passengers from the West End to South London suburbs, is a well used service at off-peak times. Removing this half-hourly evening service has no practical benefit in reducing congestion or improving journeys for other rail users.

It is recognised that most evening travel in the South London area originates from the West End, not from the London Bridge area. The link from Waterloo East and Charing Cross to Forest Hill provides a convenient service that matches passengers’ travelling patterns. Rather than scrapping these services you should be considering running them all day on Saturday as well as the current Sunday timetable.

The Forest Hill Society is aware that it would not be possible to run these services during peak times, but there is capacity between London Bridge and Charing Cross for the evening and weekend services, as demonstrated by their existence today. Even with the introduction of new services on the South Eastern timetable from Charing Cross, there is still off-peak capacity from Charing Cross that Southern should be utilising for the services via Sydenham.

I would like to ask what further investigations have been carried out into maintaining these off-peak services, as recommended in the RUS? Why have stakeholders not been consulted about this decision prior to the announcement by Southern? And how we can now get Southern to reverse this position before this important service is lost?

I would also like to ask what length the planned services will be from London Bridge in comparison to the services from Charing Cross, as the reduction in the number of carriages on these off-peak services would be another blow to passengers from Forest Hill and our neighbouring areas.

I hope that you will give this issue your urgent and serious consideration so that you can avoid a big disappointment for a large section of your passenger base.

Michael Abrahams
Vice-chair, Forest Hill Society