London Bridge is the key


Transport expert John Ware writes in today's Guardian that:

"Because of sustained record immigration and migration from within Britain, the capital's population is forecast to grow by perhaps 1.2m - the size of Birmingham- by 2026. To keep moving, and maintain its financial cutting edge, London will need roughly £50bn worth of commuter and light rail capacity, underground rail lines, expanded bus networks, and traffic management systems."

Given this challenge, it is particularly galling to hear that Southern Rail are trying to argue for a reduction in services to Brockley Station, once the East London Line becomes operational. In my earlier article http://brockleycentral.blogspot.com/2007/02/east-london-line-mystery.html I showed the current plans, which indicate no reduction in service is currently planned or necessary. However, the campaign by The Forest Hill Society (among others) suggests that the risk of a reduction is serious.

While I wholeheartedly disagree with those people who say that the East London Line runs to nowhere (they've clearly never looked out from the top of Hilly Fields or Telegraph Hill and noticed the forest of skyscrapers that is growing in Canary Wharf; at least five more towers under construction as we speak) I strongly believe that London Bridge will remain the key transport destination for Brockley residents for a long time to come.

Transport for London already identifies London Bridge as a key transport hub for the future of London's development (it's no conincidence that they've chosen to locate themselves there), with the City gradually colonising Southwark with developments such as More London and London Bridge Tower (which will be Europe's tallest skyscraper) at various stages of development. To the south, the Elephant and Castle is also being transformed, which means that the area along Borough High Street will become an even more popular destination. The long-awaited Thameslink 2000 project is slowly inching its way towards approval, which means that the London Bridge route will eventually turn from a bottleneck in to a main route through the city.

With all this going on, it's ridiculous that a reduction in services is even being contemplated. South East London has historically been starved of public transport infrastucture - the East London Line is an opportunity to address this problem, not just to shift the problem on to another service. The Jubilee line is already seriously overstretched in terms of capacity and a tube journey to London Bridge, with a change at Canada Water, is a poor substitute in terms of cost, convenience and time.

The East London Line may have put Brockley on the (tube) map, but it's the main line services to London Bridge that will keep it moving.

The Sydenham Society have organised a public meeting with Peter Field, Director of London Rail Development on March 14th. Go to http://foresthillsociety.blogspot.com/search/label/east%20london%20line for more information.

4 comments:

[moe] said...

I had to read this twice - reduction in services? Early April Fools surely?! Madness.

ElijahBailey said...

Completely and utterly daft thing to do and completely unjustified. Being one of the last stops means that the trains are allready fit to burst at peak hours.

Luke said...

Forgive me, as this could enrage the entire SE commuter belt, but isn't eight EL trains an hour good news for those working in the city who currently have to traipse over the London Bridge? I mean, Shoreditch and Whitechapel aren't exactly miles away from Liverpool Street and the surrounding financial district. If this is the case, then surely that will alleviate a lot of pressure on the direct Southern trains? And surely there are a decent percentage of people that WILL use the EL daily, thus freeing up platforms and passenger space.

Don't get me wrong, the reduction in service to London Bridge will be very annoying (I use it when I'm not cycling) but I just can't believe that only an insignificant percentage will be shifting their commute to the orange line…

What I find intriguing is at least 12 trains an hour (8 EL / 4 Southern) heading through Brockley – one every five minutes. With Southern trains regularly unable to keep to its current timetable, there could well be increased blockages on the two tracks that go in and out of the station…

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