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Government ‘not proposing to cut specific services’ after 18,000 sign petition against suggested changes to rail routes from Kent into London

PUBLISHED: 09:35 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 11 April 2017

Southeastern passengers

Southeastern passengers

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The DfT suggests all Metro services on the north Kent (between Dartford and Charlton), Greenwich and Bexleyheath lines would terminate at Cannon Street only

The government has confirmed it is “not proposing to cut specific services” in its controversial consultation into the future of the south eastern rail franchise.

The Department for Transport’s document has come under intense criticism from passengers and local politicians for its proposed changes to some services between Kent and central London.

More than 18,000 people have signed a petition objecting to a suggested example that all Metro services on the north Kent (between Dartford and Charlton), Greenwich and Bexleyheath lines would terminate at Cannon Street only, claiming the changes would make their lives “a misery”.

It was a suggestion in response to the consultation question: ‘How far do you support, or oppose, options to reduce the choice of central London destinations served from individual stations with the aim of providing a more regular, evenly spaced timetable, and a more reliable service?’

Once a petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government is required to submit a response, and a spokesperson said this week: “Question 17 seeks views about whether passengers would support the principle of reducing the choice of London termini served from individual stations to provide a more regular timetable and reliable service.

“We are not proposing to reduce or change specific services.

“An example is provided to explain how the concept could potentially operate in practice if passengers supported it.

“This question is being asked because passengers have indicated that reducing delays is a priority.

“Paragraph 4.6 of the consultation document explains that one of the causes of delays is the need for trains to cross complex junctions at key points such as London Bridge and Lewisham, which are operating at close to maximum capability.

“Reducing the need for trains to cross these junctions, by reducing the number of London termini served from individual stations, would help to reduce delays.”

The DfT admitted it understands passengers value a choice of London stations, with commuters regularly using Cannon Street, Waterloo East and Charing Cross, as well as London Bridge, which serves the majority.

“We are therefore seeking passengers’ views on the principle of reducing the choice of London termini to provide a more regular timetable and reliable service,” the spokesperson added.

“In answering this question, it is important to consider the many new journey choices for passengers that will result from the completion of the Thameslink programme and the opening of the Elizabeth line.

“For example, by 2019, passengers from many south eastern stations will be able to travel via Abbey Wood or Woolwich for fast and regular onward connections to Canary Wharf and central London.

“Many more passengers will change at London Bridge to join Thameslink trains that run every five minutes between London Bridge-Blackfriars-City Thameslink-Farringdon-St. Pancras.

“On the Bexleyheath line the number of passengers from intermediate stations between Dartford and Lewisham and who travel beyond Lewisham towards Victoria is relatively small when compared with those travelling on much faster trains to London Bridge.

“In the future some passenger from the outer stations on this route will travel via Abbey Wood and the Elizabeth line, or change at London Bridge for Thameslink onward connections.

“Overall all passengers will benefit from more reliable journeys and many will benefit from faster journey times.”

The consultation closes on May 23 and is available to view here.

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