Keith’s Travel Diary January 2015

january-northdowns-flickr-jingleslenobel-4326190512-cc-by-nc-nd-licensedYet another poor month – 272 minutes of delay in 20 days travelling. Delay Repay Claims from 1 January are £5.80. (The total for 2014 was £65.65.)

Keith is a SRTA member and a regular commuter from Bat & Ball to London via Sevenoaks.  

Week of 5 January 2015

Total lateness 69 minutes: Southeastern 49, Thameslink 20.

  • Monday 5 January – 07.23 to Charing Cross had no heating in coaches 5 & 6. The Conductor advises passengers that this fault was reported at 19.30 on Saturday 3 January. 17.24 from Cannon Street was very crowded; no obvious reason for this.
  • Wednesday 7 January  – 09.14 to Charing Cross called additionally at Dunton Green, Knockholt and Chelsfield to cover for the cancelled 09.06. This resulted in a six minute late arrival at London Bridge.
  • Thursday 8 January 2015 – 17.24 from Cannon Street was very slow through South London,  surprisingly only 3 minutes late at Sevenoaks.
  • Friday 9 January 2015 – 16.57 from Charing Cross arrives two and a half minutes late at Sevenoaks at 17.29.30; the 17.30 to Bat & Ball was dispatched early – first Delay Repay Claim of the year!

Week commencing 12 January 2015

Total lateness 54 minutes: Southeastern 34, Thameslink 20.

  • Monday 12 January  – first day of the new timetable. The 17.24 from Cannon Street was my train home; I expected that this service would be crowded and I was right. I arrived at Cannon Street earlier than I usually do and the train was located in platform 1 and surprisingly the doors were not released until 17.15 by which time quite a large crowd of people had accumulated. When the train departed there were very few empty seats in the carriage I was sitting in. At London Bridge the platform was quite busy and for some reason the station dwell time was 4 minutes. After departing London Bridge I would estimate that the carriage I was travelling in was loaded to about 125/130% of seated capacity. The journey to Sevenoaks was very slow arriving at just after 17.59. I boarded the 18.00 departure to Bat & Ball about 15 seconds before it was due to leave.
  • Wednesday 14 January  – The 07.10 from Bat & Ball took six minutes to travel to Sevenoaks, twice the normal journey time. The 07.23 from Sevenoaks was full and standing on arrival, it would have been unbearable after the Chelsfield stop therefore I travelled on the 07.28 fast service.
  • Thursday 15 January – When I arrived at Sevenoaks Station at 17.04 the information screen on platform 4 was still advising that the 15.43 was delayed!
  • Friday 16 January – The front four coaches of the 07.23 from Sevenoaks had seats available; probably due to there being no first class accommodation. According to on train announcements there was no heating in the front two coaches of the rear four; therefore there was only one heated first class area on the train – what a shame!

Week of 19 January 2015

Total lateness 63 minutes: Southeastern 41, Thameslink 22.

  • Monday 19 January 2015 – On the 08.56 from Sevenoaks to Cannon Street on train announcements were apologising for the overcrowding; there were unoccupied seats where I was sitting! 17.24 from Cannon Street was full and standing in the front four coaches, about 140% loading.
  • Tuesday 20 January 2015 – 17.24 from Cannon Street had low density stock, 2 + 2 seating in the middle four coaches; very crowded about 150% loading. People were still standing when the train departed from Sevenoaks.
  • Friday 23 January 2015 – The 07.23 from Sevenoaks was unusually lightly loaded; there were even seats available after departing Chelsfield. Perhaps an earlier train had been running late and picked up some of the passengers who usually travel on this train; or that word had got around that there was no heating on the train! The Gent’s toilets at Sevenoaks have been out of use all week.

Week of 26 January 2015

Total lateness 86 minutes: Southeastern 37, Thameslink 49.

This week problems with flooding prevented Thameslink trains running through central London and this caused many cancellations and timetable alterations on services via Bat & Ball. Unfortunately the special timetable did not appear properly on the information screen at Bat & Ball which caused some confusion.

The worst journey I experienced during this week was on Wednesday 28 January. I had intended travelling on the 08.46 from Bat & Ball to Blackfriars and then the London Underground Circle line to Liverpool Street Station to travel on the 10.18 departure to Colchester. However my plans had to be changed because the 08.46 was cancelled. The next departure from Bat & Ball was the 08.58 to Sevenoaks; this train left at 09.11 and arrived at Sevenoaks at 09.14. Fortunately the 9.14 service from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross was running late and I boarded this train at 09.16 and arrived on time at 09.49. Charing Cross to Liverpool Street would normally be via Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road where a change on to the Central Line would be required. Due to Cross Rail construction work this was not possible so I used the Bakerloo line to Oxford Circus and changed on to the Central Line there. I arrived at Liverpool Street Station at 10.14; a close one!

The Gent’s toilets at Sevenoaks have again been out of use all week.

London Bridge timetable: the Bat & Ball view

After three weeks of the new timetable, the redevelopment work at London Bridge and the train service restrictions associated with this, I would suggest that the following issues needed to be addressed: –

  • The current timetable is not very user friendly to passengers wishing to travel from Otford and Bat & Ball to London Bridge and Cannon Street via Sevenoaks or in the reverse direction. With a few exceptions during the peak period passengers attempting to travel on these routes will experience about a half an hour increase in the journey time. This is either spent waiting for a connecting train at Sevenoaks or travelling between Charing Cross and Cannon Street or London Bridge by either bus or Underground services.
  • In the evening peak period we are experiencing slow running in the area South of London Bridge Station. This is delaying trains and has caused missed connections at Sevenoaks. A particular bad service is the 17.24 from Cannon Street, 17.28 from London Bridge due at Sevenoaks at 17.53. This train has been arriving after 18.00 on many occasions and is not achieving a connection with the 18.00 departure to Bat & Ball.
  • The 07.23 from Sevenoaks, (Tunbridge Wells starter), to London Bridge and Cannon Street should be strengthened to 10 preferably 12 coaches.

In addition I would suggest:

  • Some services are now calling at New Cross Station to provide a connection with London Overground services to and from Docklands via either Canada Water or Shadwell. Based on my observations very few people are using this travel option therefore this additional stop is just delaying train services.
  • Perhaps Southeastern should consider banning folding bicycles from peak period trains whilst the reconstruction work at London Bridge is causing overcrowding on train services; each folding bicycle takes the space of two standing passengers.

Bat & Ball Footbridge

Finally a small success for my Bat & Ball campaign. Regular readers may remember that rotting wooden handrails on Bat & Ball Station footbridge were mentioned on this website in the past. The wood in question was replaced during the week commencing 26 January 2015! Thanks, Southeastern!



Keith’s Travel Diary January 2015 — 1 Comment

  1. Spot on Keith. the changes to the timetable are a total disgrace for anyone wanting to catch a connecting train to / from Sevenoaks. As you say, 3 times this week I have either missed the 18.00 due to the late running of the 17.24 from Cannon Street or the Thamelink train has been cancelled. Meaning a wait of 18 minutes for the next one.

    Worst though is coming home anytime from 7pm onwards. Anyone who needs to catch a connecting train from Sevenoaks to either Bat&Ball or Otford etc is guaranteed a wait of 27 minutes. The 04 from Cannon Street arrives @ 32 and the 33 arrives @ 05. The genius who devised the timetable decided to start the trains from Sevenoaks on the hour and half past. Absolute criminal lack of common sense. If Victoria was available to use free of charge then this wouldn’t be a problem (Otford is my station) but it isn’t!

    Similar story from Otford to Sevenoaks anytime after 9am. the 07 and 37 trains from Otford are due to arrive @ 13 and 43. The trains to London Bridge leave Sevenoaks at 14 @ 44. The trains are invariably late, so it results in missing the connections. This wasn’t a problem before the changes, as there used to be a 19 and 49 from Sevenoaks. But guess what, these have been pushed back a few minutes and now only travel to Charing Cross. More fantastic forward thinking from Southeastern. A huge number of people rely on these connecting trains but they do not appear to care one iota.

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