Southern: Train cuts assume demand will fall

The South London Press has reported the threat to cut services along the Brockley route. You can read Michael Stringer's full article here, but he's successfully extracted a statement from Southern about why they're planning these cuts.

As an explanation, it leaves a lot to be desired, failing to say why a different service pattern is appropriate. There is no mention of any of the programmes they mention actually causing disruption which necessitates a service reduction so we can reasonably assume that they won't.

Instead, what this answer boils down to is that because there will be longer trains to London Bridge and more trains on the East London, they think they can get away with it.

Even if that were reasonable - which it isn't - it fails to explain why service reductions should take place before the new infrastructure is in place. Southern should not be able to reduce services unless and until the new trains are operational and they can demonstrate that demand for their trains has fallen.

Here's the statement:

“A Route Utilisation Study specifies a very different service pattern in South London in future years as new infrastructure becomes available.
“This includes the Thameslink programme, platform lengthening and East London line extensions."


Lou Baker said...

Southern's parent company is holding its AGM on Oct 29th. A good day for a 'fare strike?'

Headhunter said...

I would join you in that if I were using the train, but yuo have my full support!

Headhunter said...

I got this response from that Passenger Watchdog body, thinmgumy that someone suggested we mail on the other thread. No one else (Lord Adonis, Joan Ruddock, London Assembley) has responded.

"Thank you for your email dated 14 September 2009. I am sorry to hear of the decision that Southern is to reduce the number of trains running between Brockley Station, London Bridge and Charing Cross .

Passenger Focus is the statutory watchdog protecting and promoting passengers' interests. I should explain that our role includes dealing with customer complaints that the rail industry has not been able to resolve satisfactorily. This means that we must give the rail industry an opportunity to sort things out with you before we get involved.

I have therefore referred your letter to South Eastern, so they can respond to you first. If you need to check the progress of your case then you can telephone the customer relations team to confirm when you’ll receive a reply. You can find their details on the National Rail website – – or by phoning National Rail on 08457 48 49 50.

If once the train company has replied you feel that the issues have not been properly addressed, or if you are not satisfied with what is said, please do write to me again or call on 0300 123 2350.

Thank you for contacting Passenger Focus.

Kind regards,

Samantha Kearney

Passenger Advisor"

Lou Baker said...

London Travelwatch would probably be better than Passenger Focus.

I'll write to Boris too. He is no fan of the train companies.

Headhunter said...

Any idea which email address to use to contact London Travelwatch? It's a task in itself working out how to get in touch with these bodies....

Tamsin said...

A cut and paste from Malcolm's posting on the thehill forum which includes the London Travelwatch contact details:

"First, I would like to see if we can organise some sort of public meeting in October with Southern - I will need some volunteers to help me please on that as I have major work commitments at this time of year. So if you think a public meeting is a good idea, offers to help to please. You do not need to be a paid-up society member to volunteer. Any help would be appreciated.

Second, you can contact Southern at
Southern Customer Services,PO BOX 277, Tonbridge TN9 2ZP
Telephone: 08451 27 29 20 Fax: 08451 27 29 30

Thirdly, you can take it up with our local councillors

Fourthly, you can contact our MP, Joan Ruddock, via her website at

Finally, contact London Travel watch:
London TravelWatch
6 Middle Street

Tel: 020 7505 9000 Fax: 020 7505 9003
Email: "

NIST said...

If there's going to be a reduction in fast trains from Charing X, - London Bridge to Brockley in the evening. For me this makes the case for re- opening Brockley Lane station a lot stronger. Two trains could stop per hour in the evening peak on the way out to Lewisham and beyond.

Lou Baker said...

Does anyone know for sure exactly which services they're dropping.

If it's the twice hourly loop line we could be in the situation of losing not only trains to London Bridge but also direct ones to Clapham Junction and Victoria.

I've asked Southern to clarify - no response.

Incidentally the man who runs Southern's parent company Govia is called Keith Ludeman.

Lots of letters to him too please.

Brockley Nick said...

My understanding is that it's the services to East Croydon that will go.

fred vest said...

"I am sorry to hear of the decision that Southern is to reduce the number of trains"

"I have therefore referred your letter to South Eastern"

that should do the trick

assumed reductions in passenger numbers seem to crop up a lot, it's often used to assert that new developments wont put undue strain on transport infrastructure and thus avoid investment in infrastructure to accommodate the additional usage that always happens

this is exactly what was done in the catford greyhound development - (it also didn't stop them assuming that increased road usage would not be a problem either because of the encouragement of drivers to use public transport - the same public transport that they claim elsewhere will be magically reducing

Beecroftian said...

@ Headhunter and Fred Vest

Unless i'm mistaken wouldn't Passenger Watchdog be better off forwarding it onto the correct train company (Southern) rather than South Eastern?!

Tamsin said...

Someone is saying that it doesn't matter losing the direct trains to Charing Cross because the change at Canada Water to the Jubilee line is so simple. What will be the frequency of trains on the newly opened ELL?

fred vest said...


i wish i'd written a post, highlighting the relevant parts of the mail referring to southern and south eastern and made a sarcastic comment on it!

Lou Baker said...


There are supposed to be 8 ELL trains per hour through Brockley and New Cross Gate, with a further 4 to New Cross and 4 to Queens Rd when phase 2 is complete.

But they will all be short trains so we should expect them to be packed in the rush hours.

Canada Water was already congested before - with Southern slashing it's London Bridge services I'd bet that Canada Water will be horrific at peak times.

Lou Baker said...

There is far more to this than it may initially seem.

As the link below shows the Department for Transport planned for a service reduction when it first released the tender document for the franchise which Southern has recently been re-awarded.

If the document is to be believed the council, our local MPs and community groups were all consulted about these reductions - whether they objected and how vehemently isn't clear.

As for Lord Adonis' claim that this franchise represents a good deal for travellers in south-east London, considering his department was pushing through cuts at the same time this can be considered little more than a blatant untruth.

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