Thameslink launch consultation on 2018 timetable

geograph-1888302-by-pam-frayThameslink have launched a consultation on their 2018 timetable, including the Bat & Ball service and the new service to Maidstone East.

It’s open for 12 weeks until 8 December. There’s a 71-page consultation document and an 87-question survey. It’s good to see Thameslink giving so much detail, an explanation of their thinking, and some open questions on which they genuinely seem to want our views.

We’ll be studying the document carefully and responding fully. However on a first read key points we noted included:

The new service from Maidstone East to London and on to Cambridge

  • Two trains an hour each way from Maidstone East to London Bridge  during the peaks and the day Monday to Friday.
  • Four morning peak trains will run from Ashford and Bearsted to London via Maidstone East, and two evening peak trains will run beyond Maidstone East to Bearstead and Ashford.
  • Only one train an hour each way in the evenings. (Comment: disappointing.) Three of these trains to Maidstone East will extend to Bearsted and Ashford.
  • Two trains an hour each from Maidstone East to London Bridge during Saturday daytime, but only one train an hour each way in the evening.
  • No Sunday service between Maidstone East and London Bridge.
  • Trains will serve Swanley or St Mary Cray, but not both due to insufficient time. Views are sought on which option should be chosen.
  • Other stops at St Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge, (St Mary Cray or Swanley), Otford, Borough Green, West Malling, Maidstone East, Bearsted and Ashford only.

Bat & Ball service

  • Two trains an hour each way from Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball to Blackfriars all day Monday to Sunday. (Comment: this is a slight reduction in the number of peak hour trains.).
  • Calling at Sevenoaks, Bat & Ball, Otford, Shoreham, Eynsford, Swanley, St Mary Cray, Bickley, Bromley South, and then stopping on the Catford Loop to Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Elephant & Castle and Blackfriars.
  • Direct trains only go beyond Blackfriars in the Monday to Friday peaks to City Thameslink, Farringdon and St Pancras. (Comment: disappointing – means no daytime direct trains Sevenoaks to St Pancras for Eurostar or the North.)

New Orpington service

  • Two trains a hour from Orpington to Kentish Town via the Catford Loop and Blackfriars all day Monday to Saturday.
  • No service on Sundays.

We would be interested to hear views of travellers not only from the Sevenoaks and Borough Green areas but also from Malling and Maidstone and from other areas. Please let us know what you think.


Thameslink launch consultation on 2018 timetable — 9 Comments

  1. Once again Swanley commuters look like being short-changed by fewer stopping services to the City, due to ineffective lobbying on behalf of their constituents by West Kent councillors, to the benefit of high-speed services in East Kent.

  2. @alan

    It’s certainly important that every level of elected official lobbies to protect the Swanley stops – Michael Fallon, Sevenoaks District Council, Kent County Council and Swanley Town Council.

  3. As a Swanley commuter I welcome your proposals for a new all day service from Maidstone East to London, planned from 2018, semi-fast from Maidstone East, via Otford, Swanley and Blackfriars, then on to Cambridge.

    This service, which will provide both additional capacity and new transport links, is important. By linking up with Crossrail at Farringdon it will give much better access across London. But to help regular travellers from Swanley – which is a large town in North West Kent – it really ought to a twice-hourly service. The service as proposed in your consultation stops twice an hour at Borough Green and Otford, which are much smaller population centres than Swanley.

    Swanley has a good service to Victoria, but fast trains to the City – and access to Docklands – are less good. This needs to be addressed, as many London jobs are moving east – thanks to the regeneration work in Docklands, and the deliberate policy of the GLA to enlarge the traditional employment areas of London. People in Swanley who work in key industries in our capital need at least as good access to London as those in Sevenoaks.

  4. As an Eynsford commuter, I know the service from our village is regular but also very slow and often subject to cancellation. I wish these new Thameslink plans could include faster direct journeys into London – or alternatively, introduce a stop at Eynsford on some of the Victoria – Maidstone services.

  5. @Rob The number of stops on the new Thameslink service from Maidstone East (if and when it ever arrives) are said to be limited by a short turnround time at Maidstone East. There was even talk of skipping Swanley at one point. We have been pressing Thameslink to ensure that the service to Blackfriars ‘catches up’ the slow service so that there is a quick, same-platform, change at Swanley.

  6. Swanley has always been the poor sibling of Sevenoaks & never gets a fair share of anything.
    Im sure once again it will be sold down the river by Michael Fallon & Sevenoaks DC.
    The train service from Swanley to the City is awful & gets worse every single year without fail.
    The Kentish Town service has now been removed so Orpington can have a better service.
    The proposed new service from Maidstone to Cambridge that was proposed to stop at Swanley, is now being considered giving it to St Mary Cray instead? this is incredible, a service has has been long awaited & would have finally improved our terrible services.
    Despite St Mary Cray being only 1.6m from Petts Wood, 2.7m from Orpington & 2.8m from Chislehurst all of which already have a fast service to London Bridge, they are now thinking of also having the new service stop there rather than Swanley
    This leaves swanley residents with a 5.2m journey to Sidcup 6.1m, to Chislehurst or 7.1m to Orpington,
    Why on earth doesn’t Swanley split from Sevenoaks join Bexley

  7. We strongly supported the stopping of the Maidstone East to Cambridge trains at Swanley rather than St Mary Cray, and Swanley was retained as a stop in the final published service timetable. Although the start of the Maidstone East service has been postponed by a year, we have seen no renewed proposal to axe the Swanley stops. We remain vigilant though!

    In addition to the distances you quote, it is important to remember that there is comparatively little development east of St Mary Cray station, so users of St Mary Cray are typically living even closer to Petts Wood than the inter-station distances suggest.

  8. Thanks for your reply, so when are we likely see the new service to LB from Swanley

  9. @Glen Currently promised for December 2019 (rather than December 2018). That having been said, DfT asked that new Southeastern Franchise bids included a costing for the introduction of the Maidstone East service being delay for ever.

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