Southeastern have announced that some trains will be lengthened from today. Changes to services made in September as a result of London Bridge rebuilding work have led to severe overcrowding.

These will be eight instead of six carriages:

  • 16.10 Cannon Street – Crayford via Sidcup
  • 16.45 Cannon Street – Slade Green
  • 17.43 Cannon Street – Barnehurst
  • 18.14 Cannon Street – Dartford

I wrote back in July that the timetable change was unlikely to work. Greenwich station saw 40% cuts to evening peak service frequencies in September and 30% cuts were inflicted on Deptford, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park. To compound that trains were reduced to six carriages giving a total capacity cut in the evening rush hour to these stations of 50%

Only one service change helps the Greenwich line though, which is the 18:14 and the first train in about 24 minutes.

Two other altered services go via Lewisham which is also seeing overcrowding. Lewisham has had much high density housing built around the station in the past few years. Then there’s additional pressure as people arrive on the DLR and look to then head towards Kent on the Eltham and Sidcup lines. A six-carriage train turning up is not enough.

But some lose out. These are reduced from 10 to 8 carriages:

  • 17.54 Victoria – Rochester
  • 18.24 Charing Cross – Gravesend

I’ve heard complaints about a reduction here and have no idea if justified, though generally slower suburban trains, aka Metro services, have seen much stronger growth than longer distance routes in recent years.

Annual increases of 5-10% are common on metro routes, which is at least twice as fast as longer distance routes. With London’s population rising by 120,000 people a year this isn’t a great surprise.

Strong growth

Click here to see growth in passengers on the Eltham and Bexleyheath line by station.

Kidbrooke was up 17% in a year after 19% the year before, along with 15% at New Cross and 10% at St Johns.

Click here to see the Greenwich line.

The area with 50% capacity cuts saw increase of 6% (Deptford, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park) with 5% annual growth at Greenwich. Stations further out saw increase of 11% (Belvedere) and 9% at Erith.

Morning Changes

There’s also changes to morning services with these increasing from 6 carriages to 8:

  • 07.23 Slade Green – Cannon Street (arrives 0807)
  • 07.37 Gillingham – Cannon Street (arrives 0900)
  • 08.48 Crayford – Cannon Street via Woolwich & Greenwich (arrives 0937)

Though these are cut from 10 to 8:

  • 06.06 Faversham – Cannon Street (arrives 0726)
  • 08.29 Sidcup – Charing Cross (arrives 0909)

All in all this is welcome but plate spinning as a lack of overall stock affects the franchise. Juggling carriages is a short term solution but the Department for Transport need to publicly confirm additional trains for the area, as only they can.