More rail cuts coming down the line thanks to Tory Treasury

Funding formula for the country’s biggest railway operator represents  ‘levelling down’ for London, according to a member of one of the largest passenger user groups

More Southern and Thameslink railway timetable changes were slipped out last week, just ahead of a bank holiday weekend and with barely a week’s notice before they are implemented on September 4.

More cuts: some Croydon, Sutton and Surrey lines operated by Govia now have the worst service since World War II

Govia Thameslink Railway’s latest timetables mean more reduced and inadequate services for passengers using their stations in Croydon, Sutton and Surrey. And all because of the latest funding formula imposed by the Conservative government.

Govia says that frequencies of services will increase on several Southern routes, at busy times but to allow these “improvements” – which in many cases are simply a return to pre-covid service levels – the number of trains on some overlapping routes will be reduced, mostly at off-peak times when demand is low.

The new autumn timetable will add 45 weekday train services overall.

Talking to the wrong people: Chris Philp MP

After extensive lobbying by passengers and rail user groups, Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South and until recently a junior minister in Boris Johnson’s government, has asked for a meeting with Govia.

“These service changes are all being implemented because of funding decisions by the Department for Transport and the Treasury,” one member of a large railway user group told Inside Croydon. “You can understand why the RMT are in dispute over these cuts by stealth.

“The DfT is responding to a drop in usage post-covid. Philp might well meet with Govia, but he needs to take the issue up with the DfT and the Treasury.”

The reduced services from September 4 are…

  • London Bridge to Caterham via Tulse Hill, only runs to East Croydon. This reduces the Caterham branch from 4 trains per hour to 2 traisn per hour and by 2 trains per hour at Purley.
  • London Bridge to East Croydon/Coulsdon Town via Sydenham withdrawn. This reduces the Tattenham Corner branch to 2 trains per hour and removes direct trains from all stations from New Cross Gate to Anerley to East Croydon. Penge West and Anerley will no longer have Southern trains to London Bridge. They are left with only London Overground trains.
  • The Sunday service on the Tattenham Corner line will be reduced from 2 London trains per hour to an hourly shuttle service to Purley only. This means the service will be used only by those that need to, rather than those that would like to.
  • Failure to reinstate the peak hour Caterham/Tattenham Corner line to Victoria. Reduces the peak service to 2 trains per hour, the worst service on the line since World War II.
  • London Victoria to Horsham/Dorking semi-fast service withdrawn. This reduces the service from Carshalton and Sutton to Victoria from 4 trains per hour to 2 trains per hour

There are other issues, too…

  • The service from Sutton to West Croydon remains reduced from 6 trains per to 4 trains per hour.
  • The off-peak service from Selhurst, Thornton Heath and Norbury is still reduced from 4 trains per hour to 2 trains per hour.
  • The Oxted line serving Sanderstead and Riddlesdown off-peak is still reduced from 2 trains per hour to 1 train per hour.

When questioned on this, Govia say that their contract with the Department for Transport only allows them to operate this level of service. They say that they don’t have sufficient rolling stock to reinstate these services, something that is disputed by the passenger groups, who claim that there is compatible 379 rolling stock in storage with one of the leasing companies. They say that the government has refused to let Govia lease them as this would require more money.

Local passenger groups are also predicting a round of booking office closures and a reduction of operating hours at stations in the Croydon and Surrey commuter belt, as the operators seek to make cuts in line with the “National Rail Contract” (NRC) that they were awarded by the Department for Transport in March.

Under the deal, Govia, the country’s largest rail operator, will receive up to £31.7million per year to run the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail services. The NRC, which is due to run until “at least” April 1, 2025, is a government interim arrangement, part of its covid recovery package. But it provides the operators with a smaller budget for operating services in London and the south-east than was used in 2018.

Coulsdon resident Charles King, of the East Surrey Transport Committee, told Inside Croydon, “The DfT’s version of ‘levelling up’ is to level down London.

Long wait: passengers at some stations in Croydon have now just one train per hour, when it used to be four

“Two trains per hour, as being imposed under this funding decision is not a ‘Metro service’, because you need at least four trains per hour to have a proper Metro service.”

King points out that of all the stations being adversely affected by the timetable changes, 10 are in Philp’s Croydon South constituency – South Croydon, Purley Oaks, Purley, Kenley, Reedham, Coulsdon Town, Woodmansterne, Riddlesdown, Sanderstead and Waddon.

The worst affected constituency of neighbouring MPs, Croydon North, has five stations affected by the service reductions: Selhurst, Thornton Heath, Norbury, Norwood Junction and West Croydon. Carshalton and Wallington (another Tory area) and Croydon Central have only three stations affected.

King says railway users should at least follow one piece of advice contained in Govia’s latest press release: “It is important that passengers check their journey planners for travel from Sunday September 4.”

Read more: Tory government rail cuts cause more commuter misery
Read more: Croydon South’s Tory MP called a ‘liar’ 16 times on national TV

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About insidecroydon

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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3 Responses to More rail cuts coming down the line thanks to Tory Treasury

  1. Martin Rosen says:

    I’m surprised that the government hasn’t revealed the figures which prove “a reduction in post-covid usage”. Anecdotal reportage does suggest that the numbers of commuters has reduced significantly, and this would naturally give rise to corresponding reductions in number of passengers – especially from East Croydon.

    • Figures published by the Department for Transport last month show that rail passenger numbers were 93% of pre-pandemic levels (in April 2020, that figure was 4%).

      So the drop in supply is at odds with the rising level of demand, but that’s Tory economics and transport policy for you

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Remember this is the Govia where arguably the most competent Railway person outside of the TfL Commissioner had to fall on his sword due to a National timetable fiasco engendered by this Government under Grayling and the funding contracts.

    Clearly they have earned their rewards for failing to deliver either a decent service with shit funding and being pushed to Union bust over the one person operated trains when everyone knew the sensible solutions could be mutually agreeable.

    So the manure continues to spread from Grant ”Shit shape” Shapps, ably assisted by Mr Zahawi on plans from Sunak.

    These short term cuts come with long term impacts. Some will be job losses as Commuters are no longer able to attend work on time or at all. Others will be now forced to move home to more accessible areas leading to only richer residents staying in situ. (They may not like the Developers vision for those Neighboring properties coming on the market – or perhaps they are banking on them?)
    And there are those unable to stay but also unable to go that will decend eventually into forced choice and require social housing and/or support.

    The issues of past overcrowding and discomfort are coming back also and not because of an increase of passengers but a decrease in Stock.

    But Transport is a difficult beast to plan and fund. Like Pensions, planning requires looking forward half a Century. People like Charles Horton the previous CEO had that gift but had to fall on his sword for imposed National timetable chaos. Transport lost a brain but Geography got a Master.

    Andy Byford is another experienced person who despite ground breaking success in Canada and New York had the unique experience of political vested interests and power grasping courtesy of Cuomo and the State legislature in New York and is currently TfL Commissioner. Their loss our gain (though some may disagree)

    One wonders if Philps performance as the stooge delivering the DoT brief no one else would touch and being shown up as perhaps not very honest had any bearing?

    Perhaps shit shape Shapps felt Philp was not worthy of ”special treatment” and decided the dumbing down of that representation should be matched by the leveling down as reward?

    Or perhaps the twin tadpole contenders for the heavyweight crown felt the phallic splinters in his posterior earned the hard way by sticking loyally to a PM economical with veracity should be repeated ad nauseum?

    Clearly few Ministers in power – if any – care about the voters, people, residents, families livelihoods in our leafy south.
    If I was a Green or Lib Dem I would sense a large vulnerability in the south!

    In the meantime I can see opportunities here for TfL to actually expand its rail operations via both Rail for London and other subsidiaries.
    Perhaps looking forward Mr Byford might dust off his New York ideas for an integrated reliable transport system for our Capital. But it would require the return of the same funding subsidy other Railway operators receive from Government.

    As an aside – In 2015 the Government decided to do away with its funding of TfL to the tune of £700million, making TfL the one railway operator not getting a subsidy. Strangely the subsidy and Transport in London was not defended by Mr Johnson for unknown reasons.
    Yet coincidentally Mr Johnson despite being Mayor decided that year to stand for Parliament not in Henly but in the other safe seat of Uxbridge and was elected. He stood down as Mayor in 2016. Well that’s all fine folks – is it not?

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