TfL: Withdrawal of Bellingham-Victoria line will not cause crowding

Reader BarryLS has been exchanging letters with Joan Ruddock MP regarding TfL's decision to withdraw the Bellingham to Victoria train service, which stops at Crofton Park. He's concerned that the loss of capacity could cause crowding on trains stopping at Crofton Park and Catford and Ms Ruddock has pressed TfL for a response, on his behalf.

In a letter received earlier this month, TfL dismissed the risk, arguing that - of the two options considered in the South London Rail Utilisation Strategy required to address the withdrawal of the South London Line - the 4 trains per hour offered by the second phase of the East London Line is preferable to the 2 trains per hour the Victoria to Bellingham service would have delivered. TfL said:

"The capacity provided by Southeastern and First Capital Connect services on their corridor is considered by the DfT to be sufficient to accommodate current and future growth. TfL's own analysis also does not indicate that there would be crowding issues.

"Regarding congestion from Crofton Park and Catford, it is worth highlighting that the Victoria to Bellingham service was not proposed to address crowding on the Bellingham corridor. Bellingham was proposed as a possible location where the South London line service could be reversed once it had to be diverted away from London Bridge and because it is the nearest place to London after passing through Peckham Rye."

Boriswatch has an excellent summary of the effects of and reasons for the line's withdrawal. He points out that TfL's position is a reversal of its stated view in 2007:

The original response to the RUS from TfL is full of stuff about the deprived inner city areas of Peckham and Catford and how much better things would be for them under these enhanced service levels. Unfortunately, since Boris has come along, crapping on Peckham has been the fashionable sport at TfL so it had to go...

So, to recap. TfL gets the DfT to pay for the majority of the scheme. TfL forks out £15m of its own money, takes £20m off the DfT, keeps £5m of that, rejects £7m towards a station serving a key area but which TfL don’t now want to build and sabotages plans to retain the direct SLL link to Victoria, thus associating the Overground takeover of Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street with a less convenient service for existing users. Meanwhile it has already cancelled plans to run a tram through the same area.