The revised timetable includes two new morning services and three extra evening services from Charing Cross (at 45 minutes after the hour so providing a 15 minute service throughout the evening). In addition, there are extra mainline services to Tonbridge which should relieve overcrowding on Sevenoaks bound services from Charing Cross between 19.15 and 20.00.
SRTA submitted a paper to the successor to South East Trains, GoVia putting forward detailed proposals for tackling overcrowding.
This paper follows up earlier ideas we have put to the previous train operators to improve services.
The pattern of rail commuting from the Sevenoaks area is being profoundly affected by recent developments, both housing in the county and Docklands. Commuters are travelling earlier and returning later. More want to change at London Bridge and Waterloo SE to join the Jubilee Line.
New large housing developments, such as the Kingshill estate near West Malling, are leading to greater numbers of passengers using Sevenoaks because of the slowness and poor frequency of trains to London on the Maidstone East Line. Despite Sevenoaks having the largest station car parks on the network, street parking around the station is an ever-growing problem for local residents. Should a proposal to redevelop the Cold Store site at Dunton Green with many hundred new homes go ahead, demand for train services and local road congestion is likely to jump still further.
In its LSER Plan, GoVia has set great store on the advent of the new fast service from Ashford using the Channel Tunnel Rail Link alleviating congestion for travellers using stations on the South East Main Line closer to London. We believe these benefits could be exaggerated and, in any case given the prospective growth of demand, it is essential that maximum use be made of available capacity, including more, and more suitable, trains.
Given the importance of Tonbridge as an education centre, many students in the Sevenoaks and Darent Valley area are dependent on reliable and timely rail links. We have made a strong plea for better timed direct services which would avoid students changing at Sevenoaks.