Reduction in train services 'will make lives harder', says 'disappointed' Bexley Council

Bexley Council has invited Southeastern to an upcoming scrutiny panel at the Town Hall to explain the new programme
Bexley Council has invited Southeastern to an upcoming scrutiny panel at the Town Hall to explain the new programme

Commuters in Greenwich and Bexley may be forced to change their journeys as Southeastern Railway has revealed plans to cut trains to Charing Cross.

From December, all trains on the Woolwich line will no longer go to Charing Cross, instead terminating at London Cannon Street.

Commuters have been told to change at London Bridge.

Under the current timetable, one-third of trains on the Woolwich line terminate in Charing Cross.

Trains on the Bexleyheath line will only go to Charing Cross at peak times, with off-peak and weekend trains only going to London Cannon Street.

According to Southeastern, the changes were made to reduce “congestion at busy junctions to give better punctuality and fewer cancellations overall”.

The changes have been made to draw footfall from junctions such as Lewisham and direct commuters to transfers at London Bridge.

A Southeastern Railway spokesperson said that the central station was “re-designed specifically for this purpose, with accessible lifts to every platform”.

Many train stations on the Bexleyheath and Woolwich lines currently have limited disability access.

This includes the busy Lewisham station, which lacks step-free access and restricts wheelchair users from using the stations.

Other than Southeastern Railway, two Thameslink trains will also operate every hour between Rainham and Luton.

Off-peak and weekend services for the Bexleyheath line have also increased from two to four trains per hour, serving both London Victoria and London Cannon Street.

The spokesperson from Southeastern Railways said: “Broadly, the new timetable reflects the change in peak-time demand following the pandemic and the new preference for travel, but still maintains peak-time space on trains to match demand from those who need these services.”

Councillor Averil Lekau, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport for Greenwich Council, said: “The changes put forward by Southeastern, without consultation, will rightfully concern many residents in Royal Greenwich.

"This is not the time to be reducing services and potentially creating even worse overcrowding and making life harder for our residents wanting to travel to Charing Cross and other areas of London.

The councillor said that the changes have made it more difficult for residents to travel sustainably.

She said: “We have invited Southeastern to an upcoming scrutiny panel at the Town Hall and we expect a full explanation of how and why this programme is being pushed forward.”

Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE, leader of Bexley Council, said: “Many of our residents are reliant on these services and we are very disappointed that there has been no consultation about the changes.

"The permanent timetable changes taking place in December will result in less choice and a reduction in services for passengers.

"This will be felt by many people who travel to and from Bexley and provides further evidence of the need for other transport options.”

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