Monday 15 July 2013

No more Charing Cross trains after 2014; massive loss in service proposed for Deptford

Here's your new station. What do you mean, you want useful train services as well?!

I'm unashamedly putting a rather more journalistic spin on the story published on the Deptford High Street website last week about plans to permanently cut Deptford's direct services to Charing Cross.

If proposals go ahead as planned, after next year it will no longer be possible to get a train from Deptford to Waterloo East or Charing Cross stations.

After 2014 trains from Deptford will ONLY serve Cannon Street station - worse than that, for THREE YEARS you won't even be able to change at London Bridge!

So now you are probably thinking - what the hell, I'll walk to New Cross station and go from there, might add another five minutes but it'll be so much easier.

This won't be an option either - New Cross will be similarly affected!

As Greenwich Line Users' Group convener Mike Sparham explains in the article, this massive loss in amenity is down to proposed improvements to the Thameslink services at London Bridge. All well and good for those using Thameslink, but it will leave Greenwich-line users severely restricted in terms of travel options.

It will also increase travel costs - whereas currently you can get into central London for the cost of a Southeastern train ticket to Charing Cross, in future those travelling to the West End for work or leisure will be dumped in Cannon Street and face the additional cost of a tube or bus ride to get to the centre of town.

Contact details for the user group are on Mike's post; whether or not a campaign can have any effect at this stage of the game is uncertain, but I'll try and keep you updated.

*Update: new local site West Greenwich Blog has an update on the current plans for changes. You can read it here.


Anonymous said...

It is going to be a real pain. Mind you, putting cost aside (as stats from TFL show most commuters have annual travelcards) getting to C Cross is 20mins (or longer if you have to change at L Bridge), whereas Deptford to Cannon is 12mins, and
Cannon to Embankment 6 mins - makes me wonder if I should have been doing the Cannon Street service all these past years!

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

Honestly, all these stories should be in the 'Makefing has been relieved' category. Network Rail has been planning the Thameslink project since the 1990s. It has been undertaking it for the past five or six years -- just look at Blackfriars station and the fact that the roof of the low level of London Bridge station has been demolished. And now people in Deptford wake up to the fact that, in order to get the eventual improvements in number of trains, there'll be some losses.
Honestly, this just shows that people weren't reading the right reports.
Compare the people of Wimbledon and points south-west. They noticed ages ago that the Thameslink project meant all their trains would terminate at Blackfriars and none would go through central London. They'd have to change at Blackfriars. So they lobbied against it and, much against Network Rail's protects, the government decided that SW Londoners would continue to get their trains through central London. But that decision was A YEAR AGO.
They read the documents, and they got things done. It's a bit late to wait till London Bridge station is in mid-demolition and then protest about some of the consequences.
Sorry, I'm not meaning to sound like the Vargons in the first episode of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- but you should have been reading the reports. They weren't in a filing cabinet on Alpha Centauri.

Anonymous said...

'..should have been reading the reports'.

Or maybe Network Rail should have been consulting with, and informing commuters, instead of sneaking this bombshell in via the backdoor? I'd say that, to all intents and purposes, this information was on Alpha Centauri, since who would have even thought to look for information about cutting off a huge chunk of South East London from the West End for a few years. Certainly came out of left field for me.

(It might, at least, stop Deptford from becoming the Shoreditch of South East London for a couple more years.)

Deptford Dame said...

@alan you don't sound like the Vargons, you sound like a massively pompous arse. It's ridiculous to suggest it's the responsibility of train customers to wade through every report that Network Rail, TFL, Southeastern and the DfT publish just in case there's something in there that might affect them. What about consultation? Or simple dissemination of information? It's up to these transport companies, local authorities, the GLA, etc to ensure that information about future changes in services is made available in clear and unambiguous terms to those who will lose amenity. It's great to know that those in the South West managed to reverse the decision, but I really feel your smug gloating is unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

@alan it's Vogons

DP said...

This is an incredible change to rail services in South East London and one which cannot be allowed to happen. The majority of workers will not know about this until they turn up at the station one morning to catch their train to work and realize there is no service. Ordinary people do not read the 'information' websites of National Rail or whoever is doing the works so unless they plaster the changes all over the stations and trains then it cannot be considered a fair 'consultation'.

The only reason thousands of people live in SE London is because of its rail services and changing those to such a degree will cause an incredible amount of upheaval to the daily lives of residents. I live in Greenwich and work at London Bridge. How am I meant to get to work? Traipse to Cannon Street and then what?? We already have the DLR to Bank which is 2 mins from Cannon Street, why would we need another link to the same place?

Removing rail connections to London Bridge, Waterloo and Charing Cross and in their place giving a link to Cannon Street (tumbleweed!) is an unfair swap.

Meanwhile people living in Hastings, Gravesend etc.... have their links into Charing Cross protected at the expense of us, Londoners who have to endure the house prices and pay our Council taxes in London. A place we can barely reach!

Is there no campaign against this?

vesper said...


I hope Dame Joan Ruddock MP would lead the campaign to protect Deptford's rail service.

Rebecca Portsmouth said...

What a nightmare! Especially not being able to change at London Bridge. Cannon Street is a lovely station, but miles from the West End and a HUGE addition in time and the hassle of changing. Also, the district line often has weekend engineering works, so having your journey end there virtually strands you. Do the theatres and likes of Regent Street businesses know how difficult it is becoming to visit?

Anonymous said...

Now that this is more out in the open, does anyone know what we can do at this late stage?
I've sent an email to Joan Ruddock - to let her know I'm unhappy with the change. Maybe it will help if a lot of us do?

discoaddict said...

Well if you live in Deptford cycling into town is much more pleasant, affordable and really not far. Don't lobby network southeast, lobby the Mayor of London for better cycling infrastructure.

Deptford Dame said...

@discoaddict I agree that cycling is a better way to travel, and I commute by bike most days. Not everyone can do so though, and even us keen cyclists have to use the trains sometimes.

DP said...

I also just emailed Joan Ruddock just in case...

Anonymous said...

I am one of those people that likes to google greewich / depford now and again to see whats going on. I thought i new the plans for the trains but this news has caught me by surprise. I had read the following blog in the past which made the disruption sound bareable but what had come out recently seems to show a different prediction of the future disruption. Note that the link to a network rail press release in the blog site no longer works as network rail has taken it down! Does this mean they have changed their plans?!

chrissyjay said...

Tube fares from Cannon St to West End work out at about £46 a month extra on top of rail pass. (Oyster would not save much.) May be time to get river bus after all - will there be more services?

Anonymous said...

I'm in shock. Is this actually for real?

I work at Waterloo - no direct train to Waterloo East / Charing Cross I can live with, but to not be able to change at London Bridge and be forced to go to Cannon St is a disaster!

Anonymous said...

Will trains from Lewisham be affected in the same manner that Deptford / New Cross will be?

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

Sorry, Deptford Dame, I really do love your site and I love the way that sites such as yours are doing a great job covering local news and issues.

But, if websites are to do the job that local newspapers stopped doing long ago the people doing them have to dig out some news, and that means reading reports and talking to organisations that affect the community -- such as Network Rail. It's boring and can be unrewarding -- I know, I'm a journalist, covering a business sector -- but the information is there if you look for it. And was there.

Sorry if that sounds pompous. It's not meant to be. But it's pointless to watch Blackfriars being rebuilt, a new bridge being put across the road at London Bridge, the roof over the low level London Bridge station being taken down, and then show surprise that there's a project going on.

And really we SE Londoners are not being too badly hit. A short hop on the Underground. That's what commuters, shoppers and theatre-goers who come into Victoria, Liverpool St, Waterloo, Kings Cross, Euston Marylebone and Paddington have to do. Really!

vesper said...

@Alan Burkitt-Gray

It would appear that you are Editor of GLOBAL TELECOMS BUSINESS GTB ,and as such it is your business to talk organisations who affect the community.

I can't believe that you are from Deptford, or you would know that it is not possible to just go and jump on the underground, and that the draconian policies of this odious government are hitting everybody very hard indeed.

What I like about is that oppressed and suppressed truths about Deptford, and the unique spirit of Deptford People can be found here.

DP said...

@Alan Burkitt-Gray

Its not exactly "a short hop on the Underground".

In practice it means scanning out of the overland network, crossing the packed concourse at Cannon Street, scanning into the tube, walking down a few flights of stairs, waiting for a packed Circle line tube, travelling the 7 minute journey to Embankment, climbing another couple of flights of stairs, scanning out, then walking for 5 minutes just to get to your original intended destination of Charing Cross. This all sounds pretty easy unless you are elderly, have a buggy, wheelchair, luggage etc... But even as an able bodied person tbh compared to our current relatively comfortable direct overground links to London Bridge and the West End, this alternative sounds awful to me.

If you are wondering why locals are opposed to these changes, look at the numbers:

According to the TFL website, Greenwich to London Bridge currently takes 8 minutes. According to the TFL website doing this via Cannon Street would take 28 minutes - a 250% increase in time.

Per TFL Greenwich to Waterloo currently takes 15 minutes. According to the TFL website doing this via Cannon Street will take 31 minutes - a 106% increase.

Greenwich to Charing X takes 21 minutes. According to the TFL website doing this via Cannon Street takes 37 minutes - a 76% increase in time.

So for those travelling to London Bridge that's a 40 minute increase in their daily commute or 3.5 hours a week extra to get to work. That equates to a lot of wasted time.

As you say "the information is there if you look for it".

Ms Blake said...

Here is the response I got from Joan Ruddock:

Dear Ms Blake,

Thank you for contacting me about the disruption to local train services during the Thameslink Programme. I would be grateful if you could confirm your full address for my office’s records.

Substantial construction work planned for London Bridge as part of the programme means that services to Charing Cross from the four stations on the Greenwich Line (Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park) as well as the limited peak time service from New Cross and St John’s to Charing Cross will be affected throughout the period of 2015-18. I have been in direct contact with the Greenwich Line User’s Group and have written to Southeastern, the Department of Transport and Network Rail to raise concerns about the impact this will have for passengers travelling from these stations.

GLUG have made clear that measures will need to be put in place to limit the impact to passengers’ journeys to central London during this period. The nature of these measures have yet to be determined although Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, advises in his response to me that Network Rail have established a Travel Demand Working Group to do this and are mindful that the six stations mentioned require particular attention.

Mr McLoughlin explains that between January 2015 and August 2016, when the Charing Cross platforms at London Bridge are closed, passengers will be able to access Waterloo via the Jubilee line and the 381 bus, with the District line from Cannon Street to Embankment providing access to the Charing Cross area. From August 2016 onwards, when further platform closures at London Bridge mean that Cannon Street will be the only central London station available to users of the Greenwich Line, Mr McLoughlin says that he expects an augmented 521 bus service to assist with connecting passengers to the Waterloo area. GLUG have mentioned the necessity of Cannon Street extending its opening hours during this period, and Mr McLoughlin agrees.

Passengers being able to access alternative routes on bus and DLR services at no extra cost is a proposal that is hoped will be considered favourably. GLUG have raised the possibility of the installation of a crossover at the North Kent East junction to allow continued services to Charing Cross, although my response from Southeastern explains that this would cause an unacceptable level of congestion and ultimately detract from the performance improvements at London Bridge the Thameslink project is expected to achieve. I am told that a shuttle train service from London Bridge to Charing Cross would cause similar difficulties. Southeastern say that throughout this period they intend to implement a Travel Demand Management system similar to that used during the Olympics in order to advise passengers of the best travel options.

Indications from the Department of Transport are that Greenwich Line services will not be reinstated after the completion of work to London Bridge on the basis that Greenwich Line trains would cause significant conflict with other services through having to cross the new layout. This is evidently a matter of great concern and I will continue to correspond with GLUG and the organisations involved as necessary.

Negotiations are very much ongoing, but I hope I have been able to clarify the current situation.

Kind regards,

Deptford Dame said...

@alan just to clarify, at no point have I challenged your assertion that the information is there for those who seek it out. My argument is whether responsibility for seeking this information out should lie with the customers of the service. And the word 'customer' might be a giveaway as to my thoughts on this.
I note your rather patronising praise of my 'site' however I'm not sure you really understand its purpose, nor how it is put together. You're not alone in this, to be fair, but it might be worth pointing out that long before every corporate website and marketing campaign had its own self-promotional version, blogs such as mine were set up by individuals wanting to write about the things that concerned them or interested them. Some of us (myself included) are journalists too so we know the value of digging into little-read reports, attending council meetings, and trawling through planning applications to seek out the stuff They don't want us to know. Unlike the day job, I don't get paid for reading these reports or for writing this blog, nor do I make any money from product endorsement, Google ads or even freebies. All the planning applications I read and write about are done in my own time and are done for the sake of my own personal interest, which is why I generally restrict my coverage to the things I am interested in.
But even if my personal interest DID extend to reading Network Rail reports, I still don't buy your argument that 'we should have noticed'. It all boils down to the fact that we are customers of Southeastern and we stand to have our service levels reduced; we deserve to be actively consulted, or at least told about this change, we should not be expected to have to seek it out.

Anonymous said...

@ alan. In the blog linked here ( a guy called Mike asks "Isn’t it also the case that after this work is completed, trains from the Greenwich line will be unable to get to Charing Cross at all?". Matthew Pennycook who is a greenwich Councillor replies, "Thanks for commenting Mike. That wasn’t my understanding but I will add that to my list of questions to Network Rail/southeastern". Pennycook also states that "From early 2015 to early 2016 services to Charing Cross will be unable to call at London Bridge station". He doesn't mention that all greenwich trains during that period will go to cannon street. So three months ago, one of our local councillors did not understand the plans! What chance does an ordinary person have? The people of depford and greenwich are all Stakeholders of the project and consultation with them is a statutory planning requirement. Posting something on a website is insufficient. The insufficiency is evidenced by the fact our Councillors are not fully aware of the plans.

Anonymous said...

"draconian policies of this odious government" errr - come again?? - whilst it's easy to bash the current government for many things I think you'll find this was a decision made when Labour was in power and under the eye of two local Labour MPs - Rainsford and Ruddock!

Anonymous said...

I'll think you'll find that same Labour government were the culprits behind the PFI scandal that is now threatening Lewisham Hospital - all governments are 'odious', it's just that the opposition can seek to distance themselves from unpleasant facts if they choose to.

Anonymous said...

it's a pity, but predictable, that Ruddock would simply state the case as it stands and not offer an opinion herself - she's a highly skilled fence-sitter is the Dame

Anonymous said...

dame ruddock that is, not our illustrious DD

vesper said...


Dame Joan Ruddock and I go back a long way, as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Managing Director of Macsen Construction Ltd, I was appointed as the Project Surveyor for the U.K's Emergency Communication Centre at Reigate by Sidcup Chartered Surveyors Playle & Partners. At that time I was an opponent of Reagan and Thatcher's STAR WARS propaganda policies targeting the "EVIL EMPIRE", so I gave CND's Monsignor Bruce Kent full details of the ECC in Reigate. Bruce subsequently invited me and Addey & Stanhope's Deptford Team, including Beverley D'Silva, to a CND meeting UNDERNEATH THE ARCHES at which Michael Foot introduced us to Joan Ruddock. Deptford's MP John Silkin had just died suddenly shortly after committing his support to the Deptford Team's plans for the Regeneration of Deptford Power Station & Creekside. Mr Foot put Joan Ruddock forward as a candidate for Deptford's vacant seat in Westminster.

As both Dame Joan Ruddock MP, and The Deptford Dame know, I have very good professional reasons for mentioning the draconian policies of THIS odious government.

NB Counting Women In's Teresa Pearce MP has been fully updated too.

Deptford Dame said...

Folks I love to get your comments but please keep them ON TOPIC otherwise I will be forced to moderate them. That won't be fun for anyone.

vesper said...

@ Deptford Dame

Sorry, if you thought my last comment was off topic, but I was defending my original comment which was very much ON TOPIC.

21five said...

I'd expect to hear more from Southeastern around 366 days before the initial timetable change.

This would mirror their Olympic timetable release, which was deliberately timed so that you could not claim to have purchased an annual pass and then had the service removed from underneath you.

It would be great to see GLUG (and Dame Ruddock) try to get some support from TfL to allow valid Southeastern tickets to be used on the Circle/District line to/from Embankment for the duration of the construction.

21five said...

It's also important to be clear that after the end of London Bridge's reconstruction in 2017, you will still be able to travel from Deptford to Charing Cross on Southeastern. It just won't be a direct service - you'll need to change at London Bridge. It's likely, but not guaranteed, that New Cross will continue to have Charing Cross services post-2017 though.

The changes at London Bridge aren't just for Thameslink - all the facilities and platforms at London Bridge will be considerably improved (read: rebuilt) and will be made much more accessible, with lifts and escalators to every platform. The untangling of various lines (in particular the Bermondsey flyunder and double-tracking the Tanners Hill flydown at St Johns) and 3 additional through platforms will also help prevent trains spending time waiting outside London Bridge.

Anonymous said...

I recall reading that a new Thameslink service (starting around 2018) was going to stop at either New Cross or New Cross Gate so we could get a direct train to Cambridge via central London.

Maybe these plans have changed...

OffDutyBL said...

This is quite a big change that adversely impacts the four stations involved definitely, especially during the Cannon Street only era ( August 16 to Jan 18 as far as i can make out).

If anyone's still wondering if this is true or not have a look at this article on the Thameslink website

Anonymous said...

The option of cycling is interesting. I cycle to Waterloo but need to be able to commute by train sometimes for early meetings elsewhere etc. As a train user, the possibility of using LUL and TfL busses at no extra cost from Cannon Street is an obvious negotiation to push.
As a cyclist, I notice that the Thames Tideway construction period is due to start before the trains are usable to London Bridge. This will clog up the main roads and make cycling a lot more dangerous. In what forum do we press for guarantees that the two do not coincide?
A bus all the way from Deptford Greenwich or Lewisham with a chance of a seat is an obvious alternative to joining the queues at Cannot street to change mode. We don't want to rule this out.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

The problem with all of this is not really the actual temporary service changes and the long term permanent changes - more that it is STILL (6 months before it all kicks off) the lack of information regarding this. With all the signage using the 'Thameslink Upgrade' logos, few Southeastern customers are likely to pay much attention except those with an interest in such details. Moreover, the signage merely tells you that changes are coming and to check the website. The website in turn does not really provide any further detail either, other than the basic plan of closure dates.

Worse, there is no firm information about what is being done to alleviate the inconvenience which will be caused between 2015 and 2018 at London Bridge. This is the real issue. Not being able to change at London Bridge to get to Charing Cross or to/from Southern trains from whichever Southeastern services are not stopping at London Bridge is a big issue. As yet, there have been no suitable alternatives suggested. So far we have a few extra 521 buses and telling people to get the tube!

So an example journey from Horsham to Greenwich where you'd normally change at London Bridge will require an elongated journey to Victoria via Circle/District line to Cannon St (or DLR) or a change at Gatwick or East Croydon and a Thameslink train to Blackfriars and then onto Circle/District to Cannon St.
This all replacing a simple one change at London Bridge for 4 years with no alternative - it's all rather silly!

Anonymous said...

I have known about this for two years however where I live now in SE London it is going to effect me even worse as I work right next to Charing Cross station. I have even looked into moving house/flat so that I will be back onto a direct line into Charing Cross but I cannot afford it. Me and my boyfriend usually meet up for drinks at London Bridge as he lives in Sidcup and it's convenient for both of us, have they not thought about how much money businesses will be losing at the lack of commuters passing through?

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