I’ve always wondered what it was called… You know the sensation of squeezing through the enormous 1980s style public toilet that is London Bridge train station on a wet weekday morning at around 9am? Apparently it is an interchange opportunity. So now you know.
The Stop the Rail Cuts email elicited a response. Unfortunately, Mike is the Public Affairs manager, which presumably means he’s not actually in charge of the timetables. Unfortunately for me, I don’t actually use the DLR much, so won’t be making use of the additional interchange opportunities generously afforded to me at Greenwich and Lewisham stations.
As he pointed out at the end of his email, Southeastern is a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia Ltd, which is part of The Go-Ahead Group plc and Keolis. Which may sound like the tail-end of an advert for life-insurance, but is actually very instructive.
According to the FT, the Go-Ahead group paid out 81p per share as a dividend in the last 12 months. Which is wonderful if you own shares in the train companies, but not so great if you never get a damn seat on the train that you purchased a ticket for! Nationalise the lot of them… At least when it was BR it had some (albeit grim) sense of public service. Now it’s just a group of French shareholders squeezing each penny out of our sweaty overcrowded little palms.
Photo by flickr user Geshmally. The full post has the email below.
Thank you for your recent email concerning proposed services to London Cannon Street from Blackheath in our December timetable which have been forwarded to our timetable team.
By way of background our draft timetable is based upon the Integrated Kent Franchise (IKF) draft service specification we inherited as a contractual commitment from the Department of Transport (DfT) when awarded the franchise in 2006. The draft service specification was itself the outcome of a consultation exercise carried out by the DfT and the former Strategic Rail Authority in 2003/04 and consultees included the former London Transport Users Committee, (now London TravelWatch), Transport for London and the London boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham.
Part of this specification was to operate an all day Orpington to London Service via Lewisham. Lewisham is an interchange with the Docklands Light Railway and there is a demand for more stops at stations offering a DLR connection to meet the needs of those travelling on to Canary Wharf.
However Lewisham station is at its maximum capacity for train movements during peak periods and the only way for the DfT’s specification for more peak DLR connecting services to be achieved is for some services to be re-routed away from Lewisham to Greenwich. We looked at all the routes which serve Lewisham, and the only trains which could be re-routed away are the North Kent semi fast trains from Charlton. So the plan is for these trains to run via Greenwich, so passengers for Lewisham can change onto the DLR. Blackheath passengers can either do the same interchange as the Lewisham people or alight at Charlton and catch a bus to Blackheath.
Meeting this DfT specification obviously impacts on the number of North Kent line trains stopping at Blackheath. At present during the morning peak period there are six North Kent trains and these are being reduced to three. However we are offering two additional Charing Cross trains at Blackheath which at present run past Blackheath non stop, these trains will be calling at London Bridge, thereby offering interchange opportunities for Cannon Street passengers. Therefore the actual reduction in trains at Blackheath during this period is just one.
This was explained to the DfT nearly two years ago when we set out the operational implications of the IKF draft service speciation and all parties agreed this was a necessary consequence of meeting the DfT’s aspiration for operating the Orpington service via Lewisham.
I accept that for Blackheath passengers travelling to Cannon Street, the new timetable may be inconvenient (although for Blackheath passengers commuting to Charing Cross, Waterloo East and Victoria the new timetable will be an improvement, off peak passengers travelling to London will see an increase from four to six trains an hour, and positive comments have already been received
All timetables are a compromise between the franchise specification set by the DfT, the differing, but equally legitimate demands of different groups of rail users and the infrastructure and rolling stock resources available, and I’m afraid that no timetable will please every rail user. Within the commercial, operational and contractual constraints before us we do our best to meet our passengers’ service and timetable aspirations, but sometimes this may not be possible.
Thank you for taking the trouble to write and if you have any further comments on this or any other rail issue please contact Southeastern Customer Services PO Box 63428, London SE1P 5FD, Tel: 0845 000 2222, Fax: 0845 678 6976 or via our website http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk
Public Affairs Manager
Friars Bridge Court
41-45 Blackfriars Road