South London train service cuts: A way forward?

London mayor Boris Johnson has met with transport minister Sadiq Khan to discuss the planned cuts to south London's train services.

As a result, the minister has promised to consider Transport for London's forthcoming report which will set out alternatives to the cuts.

The study, by TfL and London Travelwatch, will look at 30 options. A shortlist will be produced over the next few weeks and discussed with London Assembly members, local MPs and councils, before the most feasible are published in a final report in the New Year.
The Mayor’s Office and the Department for Transport will then consider the options and decide on a way forward.

There's been a lot of hoo-ha over whether responsibility for the cuts lies with the Department for Transport or the Mayor, but it is heartening to see some joint working on this vital issue. BC hopes that all involved can sort the problem out and save our train services.

Thanks to Sue Luxton for drawing our attention to this story.


Crofton Park Ranger said...

Dear People who make decisions and allocate budgets etc...

Don't promise no service cuts to Brockley and then cut services to Brockley... and don't promise more trains to Crofton Park and then provide no additional trains to Crofton Park...

DfT blames TfL, TfL blames DfT, Southern and Southeastern hold up hands and say "Nothing to do with me gov..."

It is enough to make you post a comment on a blog.

Rob Blackie said...

Just to clarify the stakeholder meeting on the Victoria - Bellingham line will be 24th November.

Tam Langley (my partner / prospective MP for Lewisham Deptford) and the Lib Dem prospective MPs for neighbouring constituencies will be going along. If you'd like them to raise any specific additional issues then either sign the petition and leave a comment, or email

More details here:



annabel said...

Rob - Tam seems to be supporting the reinstatement of the South London line - that's the inner "loop line" from Victoria to London Bridge. The aim of the group support this reinstatement is to axe the existing loop line coming through Brockley which would be hugely damaging for locals and for Tam's prospective constituents. Can you make it clear that Tam does not support this group please?

Brockley Grover said...

But there is some good news for Crofton Park rail users. On the new Southeastern timetable there’s an extra morning peak time train (from December):

Rob Blackie said...

Annabel - good point.

Tam's supporting:
a) Reinstating the Victoria - Bellingham service

b) Campaigning against Southern's cuts to services to Brockley / Honor Oak.

As you can see from the map in this link the two are not in conflict - regardless of anything else because the Victoria - Bellingham link goes from Crofton Park to Peckham and then west.

Hopefully this makes sense, Rob.

Crofton Park Ranger said...

@ Brockley Grover

Good to find any good news but that link says there will be just 1 more additional train over a three hour morning rush hour period. So 7 trains between 7am and 10am becomes 8 trains.

I suppose every little helps but it is still a rubbish service.

If the trains went every quarter of an hour then I might start using the station at the bottom of my street!

Crofton Park Ranger said...

@ Rob.

Have heard alot about Tam and her efforts - its the sort of thing that makes you want to vote for someone!

Keep up the good work...

Anonymous said...

CPR - could you not check the timetable and turn up at the right time for the train?

Anonymous said...

Boris, is that you?

annabel said...

Rob - I'm still not clear about your statement. Can you state very clearly please:

"Tam does not support the campaign to reinstate the South London Line"

annabel said...

Rob - can you give me a clear answer to the question above please?

You also say that Tam supports a new line from Bellingham to Victoria. Victoria is chock-full. So if a new line like the Bellingham-Victoria service appears, other services will inevitably have to go. Does this mean that our "loop services" from LB to Victoria will have to be axed to make room for this new line?

annabel said...

Rob - Can you answer my two questions above please.

I regularly use the loop line to Clapham Junction to travel Twickenham. It's going to be even better when the early morning services start in May.

I'm worried that the entire service might be threatened if plans go ahead to start new lines like the ones Tam is demanding.

Can you explain to me why Tam is supporting a new line from Bellingham to Victoria which will inevitably threaten our local services please?

She's obviously worked out a way to introduce new services without affecting others. I simply can't believe this is possible.

Can you answer my query please.

Rob Blackie said...

Annabel - it's very simple.

The Victoria - Bellingham line was proposed by TfL as a way to mitigate the abolition of the South London Line.

For that reason it is not at the expense of any other service - it is a purely additional service. If you have a look at the maps you'll see that - or you could read the relevant strategy if you'd like more details.

All the best, Rob.

PS I only pop in here occasionally so emailing is probably better if you want a quick response.

Rob Blackie said...

PPS Tam & Bo (our daughter) and I are going away for a few days - so we'll get back to you on our return.

PPPS Annabel - I did want to email you but your post doesn't have an email address in it - if you email me I'll be happy to reply.

annabel said...

But Rob - few of the trains to Victoria share the same route but they all end up in Victoria!

The Victoria to Bellingham routes into Victoria station have long since been allocated to other services. The station is now full up.

Do you seriously think that a number of platforms at Victoria have been left empty waiting for Tam to resurrect the idea of this cancelled line.

Your demand for a new line from Victoria-Bellingham will be at the expense of someone else's service. Probably my early morning train to Clapham Junction!

Can you ask Tam to concentrate on reinstating the service cuts along our line to London Bridge rather than proposing new lines which can only be gained by cancelling other services.

Anonymous said...

People of Bellingham, people of Catford, do not dare demand to improve your poor transports.

How do you know that all capacity is used and likely to remain so for all lines? I thought that the Bellingham to Victoria was planned (and therefore possible within existing rail capacity) and was only cut for budgetary reasons.

Unknown said...

I hope someone is campaigning to make good use of the former Eurostar platforms. Terrible that they've been allowed to be mothballed given the train capacity issues in S London.

Anonymous said...

My name is Barry Milton and I'm a member of the Sydenham Society. I'm currently helping to fight against rail cuts on the LB line and leafletting stations to that effect.

Annabel is absolutely correct. The last settlement under the Rail Utilisation Strategy allocated all of the available spaces into stations such as London Bridge and Victoria. That RUS took into account the cancellation of the South London Line and the fact that the Victoria to Bellingham line wasn't going to happen. Although, you may be able to shift the odd train here or there (which is what we are hoping to do in our battle) you simply cannot demand that an entire extra line is opened up without having existing services -and many of them - withdrawn.

To take an example. If the SLL line had been reprieved, our local loop line would have had to be cancelled (I can supply you with ample evidence on this score should you wish to see it).

David mentions the Eurostar station at Waterloo and asks why that capacity isn't being used. It already has been has been used from last year - to approximately double the amount of hourly trains running between Orpington and Victoria via Penge East along the line previously used by the Eurostar as it turned out of Waterloo onto the "Victoria" line.

There just isn't any spare capacity into London Bridge and Victoria and its a shame that people like Tam are running around south London telling people that they can open up new lines for them without cost to existing services. They simply can't.

Want a new line from Bellingham to Victoria? Then be prepared to give up other local services.I wish it weren't that way but it is.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Barry, I don't know all the details of the slots at Victoria and London Bridge but I see that page 6 of the South London RUS (link) gives these two options as alternatives indeed, but not with the SLL that starts at London Bridge and passes through Brockley, Forest Hill, Sydenham...Clapham Junction and Victoria (Annabel's commute) but with the inner South London Line as described in the map linked by Rob, a line that was condemned by the budget gap in the ELL, although I thought the reason was budgetary only, so I stand corrected on that.

But I just listened to the recording of what Tam said to Mayor Johnson at Question Time (downloadable here she speaks at 42'20") and she didn't say that both the Victoria to Bellingham and the incompatible (inner) South London Line should be kept, only the Victoria to Bellingham, she mentioned the South London Line as a cut that affected South London and asked for the programmed Victoria to Bellingham to be implemented and not dropped because that cut had already damaged the area.

And according to this RUS strategy all stations covered by the current inner SLL line would be entirely covered either by the ELL or the Victoria to Bellingham and it would also avoid some major inconvenience during the refurbishment of London Bridge Station.
So, if all stations that lose some also wins some plus you'd plug Catford, Bellingham, Crofton Park and Nunhead to a whole new dimension of London then I think that Victoria to Bellingham is preferrable to the inner SLL.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add this, but I think that in the light of the above it's also entirely legitimate for Tam to campaign against cuts to the South London Line that passes through Brockley, Honor Oak, Forest Hill and Sydenham and at the same time campaign for the Victoria to Bellingham.

Brockley Grover said...

Southeastern's website is being 'economical with the truth'!

There's no extra morning peak time service at Crofton Park from 13 December. Comparing the new timetable with the current one in brackets:

0458 (0459); 0558(0600); 0625(0628); 0657(0658); 0729(0729); 0756(0755); 0810(0810); 0839(0840); 0858(0859); 0912(0911); 0926(0923) 0959(0956); 1029 (1018); 1048(1045)

The number of trains is exactly the same!

Maybe Tam should organise a Crofton Park Station/Catford Loop users' group.

Crofton Park Girl said...

More trains from Crofton park please! Two trains an hour is ridiculously antiquated for such a high density area.

Barry Milton said...

So if Tam is against the SLL campaign will she (or Rob) say so on this forum in unequivocal terms?

Maxink - I'm rather unclear as to what you are saying - please excuse me.

You aren't suggesting are you that you can have a Bellingham - Victoria service without cutting existing south London services?

Can you explain how you would accommodate a new line into Victoria - which would require its own dedicated platform at Victoria - when all the existing slots have been filled by the new timetable that's just been announced.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was clear, the South London Rail Utilisation Strategy (link) included the Victoria to Bellingham as a replacement for the Inner South London Line (not the one passing by Brockley). so when the Victoria to Bellingham was dropped this was a departure from that strategy and one can assume that the strategy was compliled on available space on the railtrack and at platforms so if the Victoria and Bellingham would be reinstated this would not be to the detriment of other lines included in that strategy.

barry milton said...

Maxink - I have discussed this extensively with Network Rail, Southern and London Travelwatch. The timetables that have been announced do not include a lot of unfilled blank spaces for a potential Bellingham to Victoria line - or for any other potential lines using LB or Victoria.

Once again you are confusing the RUS with its final outcome. During the RUS assessment the DfT and TfL agreed to scrap the Bellingham-Victoria line and the timetablers simply did not include it in their timetabling.All the "paths" for the new line were given to other local services.

There simply isn't an empty hole waiting for a campaign. Any new Bellingham to Victoria line comes at the expense of other local services in south London.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd say that the RUS was not based on data plucked out of a hat, those were the planned routes and they would not have been included in the strategy if there wasn't space for them. Why would I be wrong on this?
You say that the final outcome was different from what consulted. Yes! I agree! That's the whole point!

In fact you don't like the final outcome either and you're campaigning for it to be changed. So why would it be ok for you to ask for changes but not for others?

If the space planned for the Victoria to Bellingham has been allocated to other lines then it's legitimate to say "give it back!"

Why should those that were supposed to benefit from it and those that were supposed to be compensated through it lose it? Why shouldn't there be a train to Victoria from Bellingham, Catford, Crofton Park and Nunhead from 2012?

barry milton said...

maxink - I think you've mistaken completely the reason why I am posting on this subject. Look back to the start of my postings and to the theme I keep coming back to.

I have no problem at all if you, and other people, in Brockley, Crofton Park, East Lewisham, Peckham Rye etc argue for a better rail service for your area. Frankly, I'd be amazed if you did anything different from that.

What I am interested in - and the point that Annabel and I started with, was the question - What campaigns does Tam Langley support?

Tam is someone who wants to become an MP for Lewisham Deptford. I'm interested in whether she wishes to support campaigns which will damage her prospective constituents.

I was drawn into a discussion about the effects of supporting campaigns like the South London line or Bellingham - Victoria line because I am being mistakenly told that these campaigns will have no effect on other services - when they clearly will.

What I am most interested in hearing from Tam (or her partner) is which campaigns she supports and which she doesn't.

When Tam makes herself clear on this issue, you'll be pleased to hear that I'll never darken this forum again!

So Tam - what's the answer to these questions please?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your point, but I understand that in the reshuffling of lines and platforms usage following the introduction of the ELL the Victoria to Bellingham was devised as a way to retain part of the South London Line service to be suppressed from 2012 and with the added benefits for the stations south of Peckam Rye (Nunhead, Crofton Park, Catford and Bellingham).

Now, although I understand your concerns about the line you use and rightly wish to preserve, I do not think that it is kosher to support the cancellation of other lines.
The two loop lines used to coexist, this means that the capacity to support both at the same time exists.
There will be reduced capacity at London Bridge so you can say that in the future they would not be able to both run, but if the SLL would change shape going south to Bellingham instead of ending at London Bridge then the capacity to support that and the London Bridge to Victoria Loop line through Brockley, Forest Hill and Sydenham should be there.

I urge you not to play in the hands of Southern that will find very convenient a split public asking for the continuation of one service and the cancellation of another.

Intuitively (and because it was in the RUS) the capacity is there, Southern should keep on running the service and provide all the benefits that the infrastructure can bring to South London, it'll cost some money, they can take that off their bonuses.

Unknown said...

People of Nunhead, whisper it quietly, but we should benefit whatever happens to the trains. We can already go from Nunhead to Victoria (on the Dartford line) or use the Thameslink, or use Queens Road for London Bridge (on the line that goes via ED), and the ELL next year. The Bellingham line would mean 4 trains an hour from Nunhead to Victoria plus the two Thameslinks. Who needs the SLL, eh?

One strategic solution for Brockley is a station on the Dartford line (i.e Brockley Cross) - ok, you need to invest in building one new station but the trains already run through and no new platforms would be needed at Victoria. It would also be a much quicker journey, as well as providing an ELL interchange.

rail user said...

This is something we should advocate hard for. If you take away our Charing Cross service via the Brockley line. Then reinstitute the Brockley Lane station. It is NEEDED.

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