‘Normal’ service is resumed, but 2018 plans are incomplete

A consultation on supposed “improvements” to Southern and Thameslink train services, and those on Transport for London’s Overground, appear to have wiped Gipsy Hill and Thornton Heath stations from the rail maps, while muddling several existing services. JEREMY CLACKSON, our transport correspondent, reports

Southern train

Commuters who want to know what’s coming down the tracks had better take a look at the rail operators consultation documents

Incapable of fulfilling their existing timetables services, now Govia Thameslink – GTR – the operators of Southern and Thameslink railways, have demonstrated that they cannot even put together a coherent summary of the trains which they hope to run from 2018, once all the engineering works that have been going on around the congested junctions near London Bridge are complete.

In the consultations, with a second document published for the London Overground, which is operated by Transport for London, there are two sets of proposals which will impact train services through Croydon. Both of these appear to involve the loss of direct trains between East Croydon and local stations north of Norwood Junction from Anerley through to New Cross Gate.

That one of the rail operators’ maps cannot even get a couple of their stations’ names correct – “Gypsy Hill” and “Thornton East” – is something which is unlikely to inspire south London commuters with confidence. But then, maybe those days are long gone anyway.

Loyal reader Will Tucker has been on the case already, and he reckons that there are a number of important flaws contained within the proposals, as well as the way the consultation document attempts to mould public views by presenting skewed options for responses.

The Thameslink and Southern 2018 timetable consultation provides the railway managers’ proposals for how services would operate once the new flyover and dive-under lines open at Bermondsey and extra platforms in London are commissioned at London Bridge for Thameslink trains to run through to Cambridge and Peterborough. It will be the biggest reshaping of services through Croydon since the lines between Norwood Junction and Selhurst, and East and West Croydon were rebuilt in around 1980.

“The ‘improvements’ are heralded but the adverse impacts are glossed over or hardly mentioned at all,” Tucker said. “An example of the latter is no explanation as to what will replace the heavily loaded through peak-hour services from Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars and beyond which are a legacy from Holborn Viaduct station days.

“Expecting everyone to change trains at Norwood Junction is simply not possible for anyone with a mobility restriction.”

At a meeting of the Transport for London board today, it will be presented with a paper to prepare for the takeover, by London Overground, of Southern’s “metro” services – those trains operated within the boundary of the M25.

“As the paper which goes to the TfL board today is necessarily vague, all we have to go on is what is and is not shown on the map. No link is shown to East Croydon or beyond through Purley, even though these are within the area covered by the Mayor of London,” Tucker said.

“London Overground already serves West Croydon via Sydenham. Southern’s Caterham services connect Sydenham, Norwood Junction and East Croydon. As these would be withdrawn under the 2018 proposals, replaced by a half-hourly Thameslink connection between Norwood Junction and East Croydon, must we presume they would not be reinstated under TfL’s proposals?”

Tucker also believes that some of the information contained within GTR’s consultation document is inaccurate and therefore misleading.

The consultation questions also steer anyone responding in certain directions, effectively framing their answers towards the outcomes which the operators presumably favour.

The document allows the public to state just one local station which they use for travelling. Many commuters, though, might use more than one: East and West Croydon, for instance, depending on their destination on any given day.

And as Tucker notes, “The most frequent travel option offered for ‘How often do you use GTR services?’ is ‘couple of times a week’. Generally speaking, I use GTR services at least five days per week, sometimes every day including weekends.  How do I express this in the consultation reply?”

Tucker said: “The survey discourages comment on significant adverse changes which are omitted without explanation from the consultation document, except by reading the fine print.”

Among those changes which Tucker has spotted are:

  • Withdrawal of through peak hour Thameslink services to and from Sydenham Hill (originating Orpington, Beckenham Junction or Kent House)
  • Service frequency between Herne Hill and Blackfriars throughout the week.  It’s very unclear what is proposed here, despite admission in the document this is one of the most congested services on the network, which is perhaps because the frequency is too low
  • Withdrawal of Sunday services via Birkbeck to Beckenham Junction
  • Daytime diversion of Gipsy Hill – Sutton services to East Croydon and Coulsdon – unclear what times this would operate and why not on Sundays

There may be others. And we’re sure Inside Croydon’s loyal reader will be able to highlight those that affect them.

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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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1 Response to ‘Normal’ service is resumed, but 2018 plans are incomplete

  1. There isn’t a service to Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction on a Sunday already. They terminate at Crystal Palace, which won’t change post 2018.

    I get the feeling Southern want to keep some of the south of East Croydon Metro services, which is why they want to shift the current slow Caterham trains via Forest Hill to West Croydon which then would be handed to TfL, which would join their existing 4tph West Croydon to Highbury and Islington service.

    As mentioned, Norwood Junction is not an ideal interchange for those with mobility issues and makes a two change to Gatwick or Brighton three instead.

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