London Bridge Station rebuilding: lots of questions, few answers

BlackheathRailwayStationI have posted before about the chaos ahead when the rebuilding of London Bridge station picks up pace in 2015, and platforms 1 to 6 are completely rebuilt.

In a nutshell, the problem is as follows. Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park  stations only have Cannon Street stations off-peak, not a mixture of Charing Cross and Cannon Street trains as on other lines. As a result, their passengers will be worse affected than any other stations in south-east London between 2015 and 2018, when many trains (first Charing Cross bound trains from early 2015 until August 2016, and then Cannon Street-bound trains from August 2016 until late 2017 or early 2018) will pass through London Bridge without stopping.

This means that for 18 months from early 2015 onwards, changing trains at London Bridge for Charing Cross will be impossible if you commute from these four stations – and then for another 18 months even getting off a train at London Bridge will not be possible. So if your destination is near London Bridge – Guy’s Hospital, for example – you will have to get there on the tube from Cannon Street. Not a tempting prospect on the crowded Northern Line.

At a meeting of the Greenwich Line Users Group (GLUG)  earlier this evening (July 22nd) there was a glimmer of good news: Network Rail and Southeastern Railway both said they are at least aware of the particular problems faced by passengers from Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations while London Bridge station is being completely rebuilt between now and 2018.

Representatives of the Westcombe and Greenwich societies, and GLUG convener Mike Sparham were there, as was I. Mike recently posted a summary of everyone’s concerns at the Deptford High Street blog. Everyone who has heard about the impending disruption is rightly concerned about the changes, which so far most passengers are not aware of.

The railway representatives could not promise that this three-year period of disruption would be shortened, but at least said they were looking at re-starting Charing Cross-bound trains from Charlton, Blackheath and Lewisham stations in the morning rush hour. This would mean passengers in the Greenwich area could change onto Charing Cross-bound trains by travelling back to Charlton or taking the DLR from Greenwich to Lewisham. This is far from ideal, but would be better than nothing.

They also said that passengers should not be out of pocket financially, which presumably means that people will not have to pay extra for tube journeys they would not normally have to take to get to London Bridge, Charing Cross or Cannon Street.

Opening Cannon Street tube station on Sundays will also be crucial once trains start going there – when overground trains started going to Cannon Street on Saturdays a few years ago, it incredibly took TFL several months to catch up and start opening the tube station there on Saturdays. No excuses will be accepted this time.

We were promised a more detailed plan for how south-east London will be kept moving (but not a detailed timetable) in early 2014, a year before the big changes will kick in. Publicity so far has been poor, and consultation non-existent. One concern is that the changes are confusingly called the “Thameslink Programme”, and the scant publicity so far has not clearly told passengers that Southeastern services will be just as badly disrupted as Thameslink services (which are nowadays branded First Capital Connect, to add to the confusion).

I hope the railway authorities will listen to passengers’ concerns. Labour will be keeping a close watch on these emerging proposals, as will the GLUG group. Passengers paying through the nose for season tickets should be able to get to work between 2015 and 2018 with as little disruption as possible.

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4 Responses to London Bridge Station rebuilding: lots of questions, few answers

  1. Pingback: Have your say about impending London Bridge rail chaos | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  2. Pingback: Rail passengers face triple whammy: no more Charing Cross trains on the Greenwich line, no chance to change at London Bridge, and then trains won’t stop at London Bridge at all | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  3. Pingback: Labour’s petition for a better deal for rail passengers during London Bridge station rebuild | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  4. GJC says:

    Does anyone know if there are going to be fewer trains going from Westcombe Park in the morning rush hour, in particular? It’s already rammo especially when trains get delayed/cancelled. I would assume if they stop running trains to Charing X there will only be half as many trains going up to town in the mornings.
    cheers
    Graham

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