Olympic Javelin causes south east London train reshuffle - delivering St Johns timetable boost

Hank Scorpio: By the way, Homer, what's your least favorite country: Italy or France?
Homer: France.
Hank Scorpio: [chuckles] Nobody ever says Italy.

- The Simpsons

We're just back from France, where the trains are fast, the main streets are treated with respect by the council but not the dog owners and you can order any meal you like, so long as it's duck. We'd like to offer one quick addition to a story kindly provided by Brockley Jon in our absence last week.

The re-organisation of the Brockley timetable, which could see us lose the direct service to Charing Cross (with trains terminating instead at London Bridge) from December, was prompted by the introduction of the new high speed trains that will serve Kent and eventually the 2012 Olympic Park.

As the BBC reported in May:

Some rail services are to be axed when new high-speed trains are introduced in parts of south-east England. The launch of "javelin" trains on commuter routes in December will force the withdrawal of a small number of services, train firm Southeastern said. They include Maidstone East via London Bridge to Cannon Street and Charing Cross. Other timetables will change.

St Johns is among the stations directly affected, with an overall increase in peak-time services likely. Currently, 30 trains run to central London between 07.00 and 10.00. This looks set to rise to 36 trains, although this increase comes at the price of the direct service to Charing Cross.

This reorganisation will force knock-on changes to the Southern timetable, including that for Brockley and Honor Oak, as Jon reported. Though the loss of Charing Cross services is certainly annoying, spare a thought for those using stations like Blackheath, where services may be reduced during the peak period of 8am-9am, as a result of the changes. The theory is that Blackheath commuters will benefit from greater capacity further up the line, as people in Kent re-route to the Javelin services. Personally, BC would sooner have a higher frequency service than the possibility that fewer trains might be less crowded.

As the Standard reported, although there are significant net benefits for South East London commuters as a result of the new service, many stations in South East London will suffer reductions. You can review the draft Southeastern service levels here.

57 comments:

Michael said...

What this actually means is that as well as losing our direct link to Charing Cross in the evenings, there would appear to be *less* other trains on the same route as many of the existing Southeastern services will also start at London Bridge or be diverted to St Pancras.

What this will mean is that we will have less connections on overground lines and we will all be forced onto the nightbuses for our late night journeys home, starting from the Christmas party season.

From September next year we will all be expected to travel by East London Line and Jubilee line instead, putting extra pressure on the three carriage trains on the East London Line (although all previous calculations were assuming 4 carriage trains when considering capacity).

There is no good reason why Southern cannot continue to run evening services to Charing Cross from Brockley, at least until the Thameslink work begins in 2011/2012.

Brockley Nick said...

I don't see why we'll all have to use nightbuses, there will still be plenty of trains to charing x and it will be a simple matter of changing at london bridge, same as always.

Richard Elliot said...

although this increase comes at the price of the direct service to Charing Cross

I didn't think St Johns had any peak Charing Cross services at the moment? I presume this comment was directed at Brockers?

fred vest said...

"Personally, BC would....."

lol

Monkeyboy said...

...there will be 4-car trains by 2011, they have to extend the platforms at some of the other stations.

Headhunter said...

RE - I don't think Brockley currently has peak time direct trains to Ch X, only at weekends and evenings....

Tamsin said...

It used to - and there is no physical reason why the service should not be at least maintained - or even restored!
Usual paranoia - but inner south east does draw an increasingly short straw. The train companies are so keen to pander to the paying commuters from Kent that they would not even consider temporarily re-timetabling the fast through trains for an extra stop to help the congestion caused by the closure of the ELL.

Tressillian James said...

Great news for St Johns though (which is A brockley station). There were only ever occasional direct trains to Charing Cross, and although I am sorry to see these go, I am happy at the increase in train frequency overall.

Headhunter said...

I agree. As I said before, when I lived in Catford from 00-02, every train from Ch X stopped at New X or New X Gate, literally every single one and they then went on to stop at Lewisham. In those days I used to be out a lot in the West End of an evening and I always remember thinking how easy it would be to get in and out if I lived in New X rather than Catford. Since that time, the inner SE has suffered increasing cuts it seems.

Brockley Nick said...

@Richard Elliot - there are some direct to Charing X from St Johns currently - not many.

@Tamsin - it seems odd, in an article about net increases in train capacity across SE London and for a local station in particular (2 more trains per hour, peak time at St Johns) to moan that we are always drawing the short straw. Clearly that is not the case. The ELLX, the Javelin, Thameslink, the Jubilee Line capacity increase and the DLR capacity increase will all benefit SE London significantly.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - train services from New Cross to London at peak times will also increase, from 43 trains to 52, although this will include a loss of direct services to Charing X.

Headhunter said...

Trains stopping at New X must be down overall from several years ago though.

Brockley Nick said...

@hh - why?

I think you may be suffering "grass is greener" syndrome.

When you lived in catford, it seemed like every train stopped in new cross. Now you live near new x, it seems like they don't.

Perception, not reality, unless you have evidence to the contrary?

Headhunter said...

Well I can't actually prove it unless I spend time digging on the net etc trying to find old timetables, but whenever I'm in Ch X trying to get home these days, quite a few trains go fast to Ladywell or Lewisham without stopping at New X and I am absolutely certain that just about ALL trains stopped at New X (after Waterloo and Lon Br).

As I said, I have no proof, but I certain of this. It was back in 00 and 01 time but I often used trains from Ch X back then and there were certainly more trains stopping at New X back then very, very few, if any trains passed through New X without stopping back then.

A friend of mine who used to live in New X at that time and has now moved to Deptford Br area has noticed the same, he used to use the New X stations a lot from the West End.

Anonymous said...

Fast to ladywell

sweet music

Monkeyboy said...

What's the furthest anyone has accidentally gone when playing 'London Bridge Platform Lotto' half cut on a Friday night? I've gone to Orpington twice at about half past midnight, managed to get a train back to London Bridge THEN got a taxi home. Not good.

Anonymous said...

Sevenoaks :(

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

St Johns

Hard contact lenses mean I've always stayed awake.

They act like the proverbial matchsticks

:)

Headhunter said...

I ended up in Elmers End or something when trying to get to Catford, back in the day, a couple of times.

angelofthewest said...

tonbridge... or was it tunbridge wells... or something like that. awful. as the "platform lotto" implies, it was merely poorly signed / announced trains at fault - no drink involved. & so much the worse.

Ross said...

would have been tonbridge.

drakefell debaser said...

I have ended up in Tunbridge Wells too but from CH X. When it didn't stop at LB I got worried and then decided to look at the info board -fast to Tunbridge. Last train of the day and £100 cab journey home.

fabhat said...

angelofthewest - I've done Tonbridge too, and like you it was non drink related, just really very keen to get home at about 4pm. Cue horror as the train speeds through London Bridge and says next stop Tonbridge.

At least the ticket inspectors on the train were very nice about it, and said cheerfully: "Well you're not the first today and you won't be the last"

Monkeyboy said...

It's when you look up from your pasty and the train zooms through New Cross Gate that it dawns on you that something is not right.

Hugh said...

Being in or anywhere near New Cross Gate being the part that is not right?

Monkeyboy said...

Actually scoffing one of those pasties is more of a worry.

Ross said...

I have ended up in Tunbridge Wells too but from CH X. When it didn't stop at LB I got worried and then decided to look at the info board -fast to Tunbridge. Last train of the day and £100 cab journey home."

TONbridge and TUNbridge Wells are different places.

Anonymous said...

They're lovely. Try not to eat the Chicken Balti one too quickly though, they're thermonuclear!

I also like the pepperoni pizza from Upper Crust

Headhunter said...

Do you know the number of calories in one of those things? They're dripping in butter pastry and animal fats!

Pete said...

Butter pastry and animal fats! Where? Hmmmm

Pete said...

I have only ever made two train related mistakes since moving to Ladywell.

One night when I was pissed I got off in New Cross when I was supposed to be getting off at Lewisham. They do look similar through high power beer goggles though.

A few weeks later I was in a similar state and didn't want to repeat my mistake and got off in Hither Green instead...

Monkeyboy said...

Yes, so is pate, nice cheese, duck, brioche....Mmmmmmm.

Beats a rice cake with some low fat pseudo-cheese.

Monkeyboy said...

The pate, cheese, duck and brioche do not constitute my ideal sandwich by the way. Just examples of yummy food.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten off at St Johns a couple of times. Peering through the darkness, it doesn't half look like Ladywell.

Monkeyboy said...

When I was young and VERY stupid I fell asleep on the night bus and woke up in Thamesmead. It was like a bad night in Beirut.

Headhunter said...

You're all going to die young I tell you!

tyrwhitt ali said...

I haven't made a mistake yet..... So expect to hear that I've fallen asleep and missed my stop in the next week or so.

Bobblekin said...

I can't see a huge benefit in an increase in peak time trains as I (like most I guess) tend to get the same train every morning.

Its off peak and weekends where it counts. The frequency at the moment is OK, could be better, but I'd happily settle with the current frequency to be able to dive onto a CHX train all the way to St Johns or Brockley without a change at LB.

I'll really miss this.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

As usual in exams I didn't read the question and answered "what trains have you fallen asleep on" not "which wrong train have you caught."

I am one of those boring people who refuses to run for a train or rush without reading the desination screen properly.

I therefore miss anumber of suitable trains but NEVER get the wrong one. Still don't read exam questions tho'.

patrick1971 said...

Nick, Tamsin and headhunter are right about the decline in services in the inner south east. I moved to New Cross in 1999, and at that time there were trains almost every six or seven minutes to New Cross (every day including Sunday), and a twice-hourly direct Charing Cross service throughout the day, which I remember catching a number of times.

Now at New Cross, there are no longer any direct Charing Cross services except in the evenings. The timetable on Sunday has been written in such a way that although there are six trains an hour, they are at something like 02, 06, 11, 32, 36, 41, i.e. very bunched so it's not much better than having two trains an hour.

Deptford benefits from Charing Cross services in the peak; these are now to be withdrawn.

I take your point that we're getting the East London Line, which is great, but it was meant to be an enhancement, not an excuse to cut existing services.

I still fail to understand why direct Brockley-Charing Cross services have to be cut in the evenings. There is easily enough room off peak for the paths to Charing Cross unless lots more trains are coming from other places. If so, where are they coming from?

Headhunter said...

I knew it wasn't my imagination! I remember many an alcohol soaked evening wishing I lived in New Cross because I just wanted to get home and it seemed that EVERY train from Ch X or London Br stopped there. Nowadays very few seem to and it seems even fewer still will do in future...

Kung Fu Hustle said...

Another Tonbridge here...and I know Tressillian James went to Norwood Junction a couple of times after late platform changes. It's not that I was running for the train, I swear they mis-announce.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the announcers don't even speak English particularly well...

Kung Fu Hustle said...

Hey Mr Troll, it's nothing to do with English ability (it's not my first language)it's mistakes and I think poor loudspeakers system too

Headhunter said...

I have to say though, I love the automated male announcer's voice at London Bridge. It's very deep and unemotional and somehow ethereal and relaxing. I can hear it now "The next train to depart from platform 5 will be the....".

They ruined it for me when First Capital Connect took over from Thameslink and they edited over the deep voice with some nerdy nasal bloke saying "First Capital Connect"....

quick brown fox said...

They both sound a bit soulless to me, which I suppose is the intention. The female announcer always reminds me of Hattie Hayridge (the female version of Holly on Red Dwarf).

Speaking of platform announcements, is there anything more annoying than an automated voice saying "I am very sorry for the delay to your journey"? At least if it said "we" you could assume the message represented the sentiments (however insincere) of the train company.

Brockley Nick said...

@Patrick fair enough point about direct services to Charing X and on the timetabling for New Cross.

But this is not a decline in the services to London, it's a significant increase for New Cross and St Johns and has nothing to do with the East London Line. Although I like to be able to catch the odd direct train to Charing X, it's no big deal to change platforms - I'd much rather have more regular service to London Bridge, which mean that cancelled, delayed or missed trains are less of a big deal.

BrockleyBiker said...

Many moons ago, shortly after I moved into Brockley, I was waiting at the station when the announcements came over the tanoy in German.

I almost don't beleive it really happened now, but I swear it did.

Headhunter said...

I'm confused now. So there will be no direct trains from Ch X yet New Cross and St Johns will be getting a more frequent service. I can see from your article that St Johns will get a more frequent service, but New Cross? Where are these new frequent trains starting from? London Br?

patrick1971 said...

Nick, if you're happy to change at London Bridge, you're definitely in a minority. Surveys the train companies have done show over and over that people prefer a through journey, even if it takes longer or is less convenient in terms of departure time. I know when New Cross had its half-hourly Charing Cross services through the day, I would plan my journey to use one of those services, rather than turn up and get a Cannon Street one and change at London Bridge.

And whilst you're right about more trains to "London", this is to London Cannon Street, not London Charing Cross, which isn't where the majority of people want to travel to and from, certainly in the evenings.

Why are they knocking down half of Borough Market if not to improve the number of trains that can run to Charing Cross, where most people want to go?

Matt-Z said...

Hi, first post, be gentle with me!

Are these changes likely to be revisited post-Thameslink works/London Bridge Masterplan? From 2015(ish) the reduction in terminus platforms at London Bridge will result in fewer terminating services and more trains running through to Charing Cross or to Blackfriars and onward.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Exactly Matt. The demolition of part of Borough Market is to facilitate Crossrail not South Eastern Charing Cross Services, which will have go to Cannon Street.

Bit like peak St Johns trains now.

Its not a real hardship believe me to change at London Bridge and you'll be able to go to glamerous places like Gatwick and Luton.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

I've spelt glamorous wrongly.

Terribly sorry.

Lou Baker said...

@Nick

I really wish you were right about all the 'enhancements' you're talking about - but I really don't think you are.

While overall they represent improvements the problem is that they're being done to improve services from other places - any benefit to us is negligible.

For example, Thameslink is being upgraded to increase capacity from the Shires - it does next to nothing for SE London.

The East London Line is being 'upgraded' to give Hackney a railway line and to remove service from London Bridge. Again, it does little for us.

The Jubilee Line doesn't give us a new route - it simply means your nose may be slightly further away from a stranger's armpit in rush hour. Ditto DLR.

The only thing that will change things here is a new line. A Bakerloo Line extension is being mentioned - we must make sure it comes here, even though it'll be 15 years or more before it does.

Oh, and as someone who needs to use a walking stick, I can tell you changing at London Bridge to go to Charing Cross IS a big deal. It may add 2 minutes on to your journey. It'll be nearer 10 mins for me.

fabhat said...

Lou Baker - just becuase the DLR and ELL extension doesn't go where you want to go, doesn't mean it won't be useful to other people. I have to travel to Old Street every week - which will be significantly quicker with the new line, and lots of people on here have mentioned how quickly they will be able to get into their offices in Liverpool st etc.

I agree changing at London Bridge is a pain - I also often travel ith heavy bags which are annoying to get on and off the train. But if there are more trains, then it may mean less waiting on Brockley station...

Brockley Nick said...

@Patrick1971 - I didn't say I was "happy" to change at London Bridge, I was saying it was a price worth paying for more frequent trains and if it reduces the problem of bottlenecking between London Bridge and Charing X that everyone moans about. If I have to change trains, but the short journey through Waterloo East doesn't take 15 minutes as we sit outside the station, waiting for track to clear, so be it.

I say that as someone who often has to lug pushchairs up and down stairs to change platforms.

Most of all I was taking issue with the ridiculous assertion that SE London is always losing out, when this is a story about significant service level increases across most of the South East London rail network (with the exception of a few unlucky places like Blackheath).

As ever with public transport, there have had to be compromises, but overall this is a significant benefit.

@Lou Baker - by dismissing capacity increases to the DLR and Jubilee line of up 50% as irrelevances, you've proven beyond doubt what an eeyore you are.

Lou Baker said...

@ Nick

I know it's your blog but describing me as an eeyore for not accepting the transport PR spin that's being spoonfed is a little unnecessary.

There's nothing wrong with the DLR/Jubilee Line upgrades. But these projects will not transform lives.

On the DLR there are no extra trains, no new stations, your journey time will be the same as it is now. But you will stand a moderately better chance of getting a seat in rush hour.

There will be more trains on the Jubilee Line and they'll go faster. In all, you might save 3 minutes on a trip to the West End. But in rush hour you'll still struggle to find a seat.

These projects are okay - you might as well get the most out of what you've got. But don't pretend they're anything more than that because they're really not.

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