The Greenwich Line: a challenge yet to come
Travelling by rail into central London, passengers can clearly the work going on at London Bridge station – with all but platforms 1 – 4 having disappeared, Charing Cross services sailing straight through without stopping and both station building and track work well under way. For Greenwich line passengers, however, the much bigger challenge begins in August 2016, lasting for 18 months until January 2018, when the completed new station will fully re-open.
London Bridge platform work: photo by Matt Brown
The Greenwich Society is not only anxious about some of the effects of the work already underway – the reliance on Cannon Street, the alternative routes available to passengers and whether their tickets permit them - but the consequences of the major change coming when services to Cannon Street – all trains on the Greenwich line – will not stop at London Bridge at all.
Our rail user group, GLUG, recently met with David Statham, the Managing Director of southeastern railways, and discussed with him our concerns, stressing the need for some extra consideration for passengers on the Greenwich Line who are in a unique position on the rail network – with no alternative rail routes. In addition, all our concerns have also been communicated to the rail industry in a response to the consultation exercise about the August 2016 timetable. Our main concerns and questions are: -
- The lack of service on the Greenwich line on Sundays and bank holidays
- Poor publicity in advance of service interruptions – good communication is key
- Replacement bus services are slow and cumbersome – local bus services are better
- Train information signs at stations still say "welcome" even when there are no services operating – there needs to be some dynamic and specific signage
- Consideration should be given to being given to a ‘turn-back’ facility – a shuttle between Deptford and Plumstead - when engineering work closes Cannon Street
- The continuing need for access to the hospitals near London Bridge
- The poor quality of the passenger experience at London Bridge station - no seats, toilets etc.
- The difficult access and change between the underground and rail at London Bridge particularly in rush hour
- Assurances are need that in 2018 the peak services that have been suspended will be reinstated
- Something should be done to correct the irregular evening services
- Additional alternative ticketing options are needed to allow passengers to use the Waterloo and City line between Bank and Waterloo, the 501 bus between Cannon Street, Waterloo and London Bridge, local bus routes to Blackheath and North Greenwich for passengers at Maze Hill and Westcombe Park
The Greenwich line has seen a huge increase in passenger numbers and with all the new residential building, it will increase further. Substantial numbers of tourists also visit this special part of London and the work at London Bridge will adversely affect residents and tourists alike. GLUG and the Greenwich Society is pleading for special consideration of our circumstances and needs.