Southeastern have released service plans for the start of their May 2018 timetable. It’s released alongside Thameslink plans this time, which I looked at yesterday.

Woolwich line

  • The link to Charing Cross on the Woolwich line via Lewisham looks to be retained but is curtailed at Dartford.
  • Fast trains are no more. All Southeastern trains stop at all stations.
  • The plan states “2 tph Charing Cross to Dartford via Lewisham and Woolwich calling all stations”. I’m a bit surprised it doesn’t still run to and from Gillingham, as alongside Thameslink services to Medway it would mean more trains heading to Abbey Wood to connect with Crossrail from December 2018. Maybe that will happen later in the year.
  • At peak times 6 trains per hour to Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park will be restored. Two of those six services will be Thameslink services which will not depart from Cannon Street but nearby stations such as City Thameslink. An issue is whether season tickets will restrict passengers to one service?
  • Trains do not seem as slow as Thameslink services on the route which are up to 25% slower than pre-2015 levels despite calling at fewer stations. Yet they are no quicker than pre-2015 and a minute or two extra padding that crept in has been retained.
  • The last train now departs London Bridge later at 00:51 which is very welcome to those having a night out or working late.

Bexleyheath line

  • The 2 tph Victoria to Dartford service via Bexleyheath is extended to Gravesend. As said, I’m a bit surprised more trains from Medway aren’t directed to Abbey Wood for Crossrail connections.
  • Under Sunday services it states just two an hour on the Bexleyheath line to Victoria. That can’t be right for all services?
  • One extra morning weekday train to Victoria across the peak period

Sidcup line

  • A new fast service will be introduced to during the off-peak period to increase services to 6 tph with Charing Cross to Gravesend running fast from London Bridge to New Eltham, then Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford and all stations to Gravesend. This replaces the previous fast service via Abbey Wood.
  • Reduced Off-Peak journey times between Charing Cross, Dartford and Gravesend are claimed but looking at the times it’s no better than before 2015.
  • One extra morning peak train to Charing Cross and two in the evening peak

Hayes Line

  • Only two trains an hour on Sundays
  • One extra morning peak train to Cannon Street

So, when looking across lines it seems better than the currently restricted post-2015 service levels but no real net gain from pre-2015 services, though certain stations will win and some will lose.

Thameslink was never going to really assist south east London to any large degree; it’s mainly for south and north London and suburbs beyond. So will south east London get many benefits in years to come? The future franchise guides and specification documents plus Network Rail plans seem very reticent on improvements, especially with the Department for Transport and Chris Grayling in charge.

Thameslink

There are also mentions of new and amended Thameslink services. I covered the Thameslink changes in much more detail here:

  • Confirmation that Thameslink services via Greenwich will only have eight carriages so no net capacity gain from 10-car existing services. And it will not stop at Woolwich Dockyard. That makes sense if 12-carriages used but not eight. Despite not stopping there, Belvedere or Erith, journeys are substantially slower along the line than before 2015. For example, Abbey Wood to London Bridge was 23 minutes fast or 27 minutes slow. Now it’s 32 minutes even at quiet times, even with less stations served than the previous 27 minute all-stopping Southeastern service.
  • Thameslink services via Catford via see four trains an hour.

Comments can on the Southeastern plans by emailing timetablemanagement@southeasternrailway.co.uk

Next franchise

By the way, last week a presentation on the next Southeastern franchise was given to Greenwich Councillors. Councillor John Fahy (Woolwich Riverside ward) put up a tweet on Twitter before it begun.

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I hoped once it was over he would then tweet some details of what happened. Nothing since despite being asked what happened.

Not one other Greenwich councillor has said what happened, what information was given, what questions were asked and what answers given.

Any of these things mentioned?

  • More all-day staffing at stations to man barriers and improve safety, especially at night.
  • Lower fares upon joining the TfL fare scale
  • Longer ticket office hours
  • Lewisham station and track upgrade work
  • Upgrade work at places such as Woolwich Dockyard for 12-car services
  • Longer trains and more capacity
  • More stabling space for trains
  • Integration with house building to provide additional income and better facilities

We don’t know as most local councillors seem resistant to using modern methods to communicate and disseminate local information, unlike councillors in other authorities.

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