London Bridge is falling down… on services for rail commuters

Commuters who travel from East Croydon into London Bridge on the Thameslink service face more than three years’ disruption, with journey times almost doubled during major engineering and re-building work at the city terminus.

thameslink trainThameslink has been leafleting passengers and staging exhibitions about the changes to the service, which will first impact them in August next year, when no Southern services will stop at the major commuter station for nine days, and Thameslink and Southeastern trains will be “retimed” – railwayspeak for detoured and running slower.

For Thameslink passengers, next August’s disruption will just be the starter course for the changes to begin in December next year, when their regular trains, which run from Brighton to Bedford, via East Croydon and St Pancras International, will not stop at London Bridge at all while Network Rail conducts a £6 billion rebuilding project at the station.

Trains will be diverted around the Herne Hill loop, and some journeys will take up to 15 minutes longer than at present.

This change in the Thameslink service is likely to be in place until January 2018. Commuters who routinely travel to London Bridge will be able to disembark at Blackfriars or City Thameslink, although they face longer rail journey times and those working to the east of London Bridge will be taken out of their way. London’s cab drivers will be pleased, though.

Some of the demolition work that has been going on at London Bridge this summer. There's more to come

Some of the demolition work that has been going on at London Bridge this summer. There’s more to come

Phased platform closures began in May this year, with platforms 14, 15 and 16 at London Bridge being closed and demolished to make way for a new station concourse. Platforms 12 and 13 will be the next platforms to close.

The prospect is for better services once the rail engineering and station is re-built, with up to 24 trains an hour being able to use the Brighton to London mainline. But there seems likely to be three years of even greater misery than is endured by thousands of Croydon commuters already.

“Thameslink services between Bedford and Brighton through central London will be diverted away from London Bridge and will run via Herne Hill instead,” the operator advises. “There are plans to maintain an off-peak service between London Bridge station, Gatwick Airport and Brighton. Once more details are available, we’ll share it with you.” That’s good of them.

There is no mention of hard-pressed commuters being given any kind of discount on their season-tickets while the rail and network operators provide a reduced and worse service – although the annual above-inflation fare increases are expected to continue right on schedule.

“Rebuilding London Bridge is the biggest engineering challenge taking place on the railway and one of the most important stages of the Thameslink project which will unlock capacity through central London and beyond,” said Dave Ward, Network Rail’s route managing director for London and the south-east, in an official statement.

The Thameslink website – www.thameslinkprogramme.co.uk – allows passengers to sign up for email alerts for the additional information when the railway managers release it.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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