South eastern train services in Bexleyheath and Dartford could stop running to most London terminals
PUBLISHED: 14:45 28 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 28 March 2017
The suggestion is part of the rail network’s franchise consultation
Commuters trains in north Kent and Bexleyheath could start running to just one London terminal.
Under a government consultation, there is a suggestion Dartford and Bexleyheath trains could run to exclusively to London Cannon Street.
The government is currently running a consultation on the south eastern train service, as they take bids for the next franchise holder to begin in December 2018.
The consultation is already under-fire as the Department for Transport admitted some housing figures in the document were ‘too low’ in a letter to Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce.
Earlier this month, Southeastern’s parent company Go-Ahead Group confirmed it would be putting in a bid to renew its hold on the franchise, despite being ranked third worst in the country for customer satisfaction.
In a Department for Transport document setting out proposals for the service, one page explains the need to cut the number of London stations serving the county.
It reads: “There would be a limit to the improvements that could be made to the timetable without also reducing the
number of central London stations served from certain locations at particular times. An example might be for all
Metro services on the north Kent (between Dartford and Charlton), Greenwich and Bexleyheath lines to terminate at
Cannon Street only.
“We believe that the simplicity of a regular service to a single London terminal throughout the day would benefit both regular and occasional passengers.”
“A simpler service can help deliver a step-change improvement in the punctuality of both Metro and Mainline services.
“We are aware that losing direct connections to particular central London stations has the potential to inconvenience a number of passengers, by requiring them to change their usual journey patterns.”
The proposal has already met criticism, with Dartford MP Gareth Johnson saying: “The suggestion that services to Charing Cross, Victoria and Blackfriars could be cut is totally unacceptable.
“Whilst I know these suggestions are just being consulted on at the moment, it is still causing huge anxiety to local commuters.
“Dartford is a growing commuter town and so large numbers of people rely on the current destinations to get to work. We cannot be expected to build thousands of houses here yet not have sufficient infrastructure in place.
“It is really important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation in order to get their views taken into account. I have meetings with the trains minister and the transport secretary later today when I will be making the case against this ridiculous suggestion.”
Ms Pearce added: ““This proposal would drastically limit the choice and options for rail users in my constituency and across the South-East. It would significantly increase journey times, and would lead to major problems of overcrowding and further pressure on already busy interchange stations like Lewisham.
“Losing direct connections to certain central London stations would be a major change to the service and I would encourage everybody to respond directly to the consultation on the Department for Transport’s website.”
Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett echoed the concerns of fellow Parliamentarians.
He said: “The train services from Bexleyheath and Crayford into central London have been extremely bad. There are constant delays, cancellations, overcrowding, and a severe lack of information from staff. Southeastern and Network Rail have let my constituents down, and there have been too many excuses.”
“I raise the issues with the Rail Minister, Southeastern, and Network Rail regularly yet things do not improve so I welcome the consultation on a new franchise.”
“There must be greater co-operation between the operator and Network Rail to deliver more rolling stock and better reliability, and I therefore support the proposals to ensure they work together as one team with a focus on performance.”
“However, I strongly oppose the suggestion to reduce the number of terminals that can be reached from Bexley, and believe the services to Charing Cross and Victoria are essential. This is something I have already raised with the rail minister and will be included in my submission to the consultation.”