The SRTA has been reviewing Southeastern’s proposals for changes to the December 2019 timetable.
We welcome the agreement to assist with connections at Swanley for Darenth Valley line users. That’s how a joined-up railway should work.
However, SRTA has a significant concern with one of the proposed timetable changes. This concerns the change to the stopping services, 1726 from Charing Cross and 1739 from Cannon Street. It appears to us that the proposal totally ignores the interests of the large number of passengers who travel from Cannon Street to Chelsfield and beyond.
Our concern is that, in order to maintain their present service, passengers using the current 1739 Cannon Street service will be forced to change trains once to reach Chelsfield and twice for stations beyond Chelsfield. We believe that the current number of passengers travelling on this service beyond Orpington is around 250-300, approximately half alighting at Chelsfield and the remainder continuing towards Sevenoaks.
As we see it, the proposal is neutral for Charing Cross passengers who would continue to have their existing same platform connection at Chelsfield for stations to Sevenoaks. However for the Cannon Street passengers many will face two changes. It is proposed that they catch their existing 1739 from Cannon Street to London Bridge, where they have 10 minutes to change to join the regularly “full and standing” 1744 from Charing Cross to Chelsfield, where they have a same platform change to the 1726 from Charing Cross all stations to Sevenoaks.
It seems to us that:
- Imposing two changes in place of a through service for up to 200 passengers imposes an unreasonable burden on them and especially any with accessibility issues
- Having up to an additional 300 passengers changing trains at London Bridge in the peak of the evening rush hour is highly undesirable for all station users
- Adding up to 300 passengers to the 1744 semi-fast to Tunbridge Wells is either highly undesirable or physically impossible
- Breaking the clockface pattern of peak time services by switching one service from Cannon Street to Charing Cross is contrary to good railway practice as promoted by the DfT and is unjustified except in exceptional circumstances for which Southeastern have not made a case.
More generally, we were once again disappointed at the lack of any material change to mainline services to reduce journey times or increase capacity.