When the Tannoy system at Coulsdon Town station next announces “Mind The Gap”, they won’t be referring to the distance between platform and train carriage, but the length of time until the next timetabled service on the line.
The residents of the once-tranquil Surrey town of Coulsdon “feel under siege”, according to one senior figure in the community, as a result of the rapid pace of change going on around them.
But now, as well as having entire new communities being built in the area, evermore traffic chaos, overcrowded schools, the closure of existing amenities, from December Coulsdon residents face the prospect of significant reductions in the level of service provided by the vitally important railway.
Govia Thameslink Railway, or what most mere mortals curse on their daily commute as Southern, has released the results of their consultation into their rail services. It proposes drastically reduced services for passengers in and around Coulsdon.
The train operators have said, “GTR will provide more evenly spaced trains, a more reliable service and a faster off-peak service.”
But according to Charlie King, the chair of East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, “In Coulsdon they are offering us fewer trains per hour at Coulsdon Town, Reedham and Woodmansterne, longer journey times to central London, the withdrawal of our local service to Reigate and Tonbridge, the loss of turn up and go service to London Bridge and no improvements to peak hour services.”
King, local residents and members of the local transport consultative committee have a meeting next week with Charles Horton, GTR’s CEO, next week to present him with a petition, and are seeking additional support.
“We are given to believe that even though more than 400 people from Coulsdon complained to GTR about the loss of stops in the Reigate and Tonbridge service at Coulsdon South and the loss of the Tattenham Corner shuttles, they are not going to make any changes,” King said.
“The East Surrey Transport Committee conducted a survey of more than 1,000 off-peak passengers at Coulsdon South and undertook a number of surveys on the Tattenham Corner shuttle trains. These showed an overwhelming demand for these trains to continue to stop at Coulsdon South and at least the first and last shuttle trains to continue.”
King maintains that Coulsdon is the only area affected by the GTR changes which will have a reduced, and worse, service than at present.
The changed services are being introduced as the operators adjust to the expanded Thameslink network to be introduced in 2018.
GTR maintains, “Coulsdon South still retains four trains an hour to London. There will continue to be two trains an hour to London Bridge and to replace the Reigate and Tonbridge services there will be two Blackfriars services every hour. Until 2018 these services are unable to call at London Bridge. Coulsdon Town retains two trains an hour to London Bridge.
“We accept that this is not the outcome passengers at Coulsdon wanted, however our research when constructing the timetable showed that the number of people who would be adversely affected by this change is far outweighed by the numbers who will benefit.”
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