Southeastern’s Olympic train cuts: What’s happening now

A few days have passed, a few things have happened. Here’s a round-up of what’s happening as watchdogs, councils and passengers try to fight off the planned cuts by Southeastern during next summer’s Olympics

What London Travelwatch is doing: It has objected, calling the proposed cuts “unacceptable”, adding: “Travellers will find these proposals extremely confusing and they could create as many problems as they seek to overcome.”

What Greenwich Council is doing: It has objected, with cabinet member Cllr Denise Hyland saying they “show a lack of understanding of the importance of tourism to the economy of the borough”. Something is likely to appear in its weekly Greenwich Time next week.

What Lewisham Council is doing: A spokesperson told 853: “Lewisham has responded to the current consultation and has expressed concerns that proposed reduction to the Deptford train service will result in severe overcrowding for existing passengers.”

What have local “stakeholders” said? The Charlton Rail Users Group has objected. So has the Westcombe Society (consulted because its patch borders Maze Hill and Westcombe Park stations). As far as I’m aware, no other group has been contacted – or has made public their response.

What has Southeastern said? Well…

Southeastern’s head of communications (the same department which doesn’t deal with blogs), Jon Hay Campbell, was at the Charlton Rail Users Group meeting on Monday. “We are meeting the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Department for Transport to see what can be done. We’ll be letting them know that this is what our customers said.”

Of course, as was pointed out to him several times, Southeastern didn’t ask its customers, it asked “stakeholders”.

Southeastern has consistently tried to pin the blame on the Olympic Delivery Authority, saying it is obliged to do as the ODA says thanks to a clause in its franchise (17KB PDF).

But London Travelwatch’s Tim Bellenger, who was also at the meeting, said he had heard from other train companies who had been approached by the Olympic Delivery Authority to change their services, but had responded with their own proposals. Indeed, Jon Hay Campbell even said Southeastern had already changed some of its proposals to guarantee better services in Kent – but could not say why Southeastern was not as proactive about protecting its south-east London services.

There were also calls for the Olympic Delivery Authority’s methodology to be challenged – one of its claims is that there would not be capacity to run bus services from Charlton station to the O2/Dome/North Greenwich Arena for Olympic events. Clearly, we must have all dreamt up the Millennium Transit bus shuttle to the Dome in 2000 – and the demolition work which went into creating the interchange there.

Another representative at the meeting was the transport planner for the O2 – who seemed as much in the dark about Southeastern’s proposals as anyone else there, despite working at an Olympic venue.

Finally, some press coverage… in the News Shopper and The Wharf. Only a month after the proposals were first revealed on this blog.

So that’s how things stand. Well done to those who put pressure on councillors and others to act – see Abstractnoise for more – we now await the outcome of all this, which we are due to find out by July.

One little moral to come out of this story, though – it may be worth combining with other train users at your station to set up a users’ group so you find out about these things. If Charlton residents hadn’t done that last year, we wouldn’t have found out – and these proposals would not have been made public.

While we live in a world where “stakeholders” are deemed to be more valuable than real human beings, it may be worth playing their game. Don’t assume other people will do things for you…

11 comments

  1. Do you have any info on how to set up a rail group? How does a locally set up rail users group turn you into a stakeholder?

  2. Get some like-minded souls together, invite Southeastern, make some posters and flyers, tell the media, hold a meeting. Job done. You are now a “stakeholder”.

    (Also invite your local councillors and anyone else that might be interested – London Travelwatch, MPs, local businesses, amenity societies.)

  3. Point of information: you are not a stakeholder group until the Council “recognises” you. The Council has never recognised NOGOE as a stakeholder group, so we had to adapt.

  4. How can I go about finding out what could happen to our South Eastern services in my neck of the woods – Southwark to Victoria?

  5. The decision to close Woolwich Dockyard during Games Time is bizarre. The original decision was based on the fact that the ten carriage trains could not stop there due to the length of the platform. Guess what they are stopping there. The fact is that this is a totally flawed policy and we should say so loudly and clearly .

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