Response to the consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise – August 2012

1.  Introduction

The Dulwich Society represents 1100 homes in the Dulwich area (i.e. over 2,000 residents).
 
The Society actively encourages use of rail services and has produced locally-focussed train timetables for local distribution in order to promote rail travel.

The Society also played a leading role in the improvement of the frontage of North Dulwich station.

2. Detailed Consideration

2.1 The western edge of Dulwich is served by Herne Hill, West Dulwich and Sydenham Hill stations. All these stations and their rail services are included in the comprehensive response from the Herne Hill Society. The Dulwich Society fully supports the submission of the Herne Hill Society, including its detailed analysis of services provided to the communities it serves. The key feature of services from Herne Hill is that they provide direct services to the West End (Victoria), the City and services to the north of London via the Thameslink route.

2.2 In contrast central and eastern Dulwich are served by North and East Dulwich stations. Both stations provide a good service to the City (London Bridge) and demand has increased significantly over the past decade with the improved transport links now serving London Bridge. However services during the peak periods are very congested and there is a clear need for an expansion of services especially during the peak periods.

Links to the West End

2.3 While there are no direct services from North and East Dulwich stations to the West End (or a link to services to Gatwick Airport) this has been provided by a twice an hour connecting service (using the same platform transfer) at Peckham Rye. This is the South London Line service – London Bridge to Victoria via Denmark Hill. With the introduction of the new Overground service linking services from Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction via Surrey Quays, services on the South London line will cease. This will remove a vital service for Dulwich residents to the West End.  It is appreciated that the new Overground service referred to in 3.2 below could be used to reach Victoria but this would require a complicated second change of platforms at Clapham Junction.

2.4 It is possible to argue that the residents travelling from North and East Dulwich stations, once the South London line service is removed, could travel to Victoria by making a single change at West Norwood. However this is only practical for the most able as it requires the use of steep staircases to effectively cross the line. For the elderly, individuals with pushchairs etc. this is not a viable alternative1.

2.5 It is fully appreciated that the new Overground service will provide a significant improvement in services from Peckham Rye providing additional service to the City (Bishopsgate) and stations further north. The track for this new service will use the existing South London tracks from Wandsworth Road station to a new junction north of Queens Road Peckham station (the new service).

2.6 The new service will provide four trains an hour on the section of track between the new junction and stations to the west of Peckham Rye. Given that the twice an hour London Bridge to Victoria service will no longer run, the service on this section of the line will only be increased by a net two trains an hour

Proposal.

2.7 The Dulwich Society have identified that there is serious congestion on the Dulwich services. It is understood that a similar situation arises on services through Streatham Hill and Balham serving Victoria.

2.8 Over 100 years ago overhead electric trains provided rail services on the former Southern region lines in South London. Residents in Dulwich had a fast and direct service to Victoria from a service which ran from London Bridge to Victoria via Tulse Hill. The Dulwich Society believes that by using the platform allocations at London Bridge and Victoria (currently used by the South London Line – appropriately rearranged) it would be possible to reintroduce this service. This would provide increased capacity through North and East Dulwich stations (and also Streatham Hill and Balham) and make a significant contribution to reducing congestion.

Other Issues

2.9 The Herne Hill Society has stressed the importance of the Thameslink Brighton services continuing to serve Herne Hill station. This arrangement has existed to provide cross London Thameslink services when London Bridge has not had the capacity during peak periods. These services have also previously stopped at Tulse Hill enabling easy connections (flat surface) with services from Peckham and North and East Dulwich stations without the need to travel into Central London. The Dulwich Society wishes to see this service maintained especially as there are very limited services to East Croydon from the Dulwich Area to facilitate changes onto the Brighton Line.

2.10 – on question Q18 - What services that run via Elephant & Castle do respondents think should run via the Thameslink core route?
The text of para 7.21 is not entirely clear.  It implies that the Wimbledon loop trains cause particular problems because of crossing moves but then appears to suggest that Wimbledon loop trains count as part of the routes via Elephant and Castle now being considered for up to 8 possible through trains.
This seems to be a slight change from the previous proposal in that there seems to be an acceptance that there will have to be some through trains from the Wimbledon loop.  
It is unreasonable to expect all the different lobbying groups for each line to answer Q18 as clearly all will support their route.  The DfT and the bidders for the franchise no doubt have details of passenger usage and growth predictions.


As far as Herne Hill and the Wimbledon loop is concerned:


1. The Secretary of State has endorsed an objective to ensure that train services perform to the highest practicable reliability and punctuality standards and continue to be amongst the most reliable and punctual services on the network.   It is clear that with up to 16 trains an hour from the southern E&C routes there is a greater risk of delay and financial penalties for missing performance targets.  Customers have rated all the railway franchises badly for poor handling of delays, and it is evident that strategically this will continue to drive service changes rather than commuter convenience of having through trains.


2. The Dulwich area has gradually lost services over the past few years with cutbacks to the North Dulwich to East Croydon route and the South London loop.  Transport provision in the southern part of Southwark is already poor.


3. It appears the Wimbledon/Herne Hill trains are being sacrificed for the benefit of the overall strategy linking South England to North.    We have already put up with considerable disruption with weekend and evening engineering works for many months, and to what effect?  A worse service.  We should not be put in a worse position than before.  The opening of the tunnel between Blackfriars, City Thameslink and Farringdon was a boon to City workers and those working in the new industries around Clerkenwell/Farringdon and Old Street.  Much of this good work would be destroyed by forcing some commuters to change at Blackfriars.  It would be a retrograde step.


4. The Wimbledon line commuters would have reduced benefit of Crossrail because they would have to change at Blackfriars to get to Farringdon.


5. Herne Hill line commuters need through trains to St Pancras to access Eurostar and reduce the need for carrying/wheeling luggage between platforms. As a minimum a sensible number of through trains to St Pancras is required 24/7.


2.11 - on question Q 19:  The interchange at Blackfriars needs to be as simple and easy aspossible for passengers.  The main issue is that the new Blackfriars is a huge station on a grand scale. This increases the amount of walking (a nightmare for asthmatics and others with difficulties walking).    The platforms at the new Blackfriars are very long and already a tiring walk - it will be a tiresome and time consuming change at Blackfriars especially for people with luggage travelling to King’s Cross and St Pancras, elderly and disabled travellers and cyclists with bikes.  There may be a need for mobility vehicles and additional staff to help less mobile passengers, provision of moving walkways, better advice about which coaches to use if you need to change at Blackfriars, lifts, escalators and clear signage.  A further problem is that the platforms are so long that you have to run or walk up the platform at Blackfriars to get on the last coach of the train.


2.12  the frequency of services through North and East Dulwich stations to London Bridge should be restored to 6 trains per hour (rising eventually to 8 trains per hours), with at least 2 trains per hour going to East Croydon and with 2 trains per hour providing the service to Victoria suggested in 2.8 above.

Stations

2.13  The Dulwich Society also proposes some improvements at the franchised stations:
* Passenger lifts at West Dulwich and North Dulwich;
* Waiting rooms on platforms at West Dulwich, North Dulwich, East Dulwich and Peckham Rye. The substitution of exposed shelters for existing waiting rooms at Peckham Rye has recently been consulted on.
* Renaming of Sydenham Hill Station as South Dulwich, to avoid the confusion for passengers caused by the station’s not being at Sydenham;
* Provision for an increasing number of cycle parking stands at all stations to match increasing demand, with CCTV security coverage.

3.  Conclusion

3.1 The Dulwich Society fully supports the proposals made by the Herne Hill Society which will provide improvements to services for residents in Western Dulwich. In contrast residents in Eastern and North Dulwich continue to face over-crowded services into a congested London Bridge. This will be further increased over the next five years with the redevelopment of London Bridge.

3.2 The new Overground service to be introduced from December 2012 will provide additional capacity to the City via Shoreditch High St and to stations further north. However this new service will remove the current flat level interchange service to Victoria. While this service is convenient to Dulwich residents it is a worse service than was provided over 100 years ago by the overhead electric services which provided a direct link with Victoria.

3.3 The Dulwich Society recommends that the London Bridge to Victoria service via Tulse Hill is reintroduced. This will both improve services for Dulwich residents and provide an appropriate replacement for the loss of the South London Line service. The proposal will also have a major impact on reducing congestion both in the Dulwich and Peckham areas in South East London but also for the communities in Balham and Streatham Hill.

3.4 The Dulwich Society recommends improvements at stations in line with modern standards and increasing use.

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