The role and significance of services into central London from inner zone 2
All the stations covered by the Southwark Rail Users Group (SRUG) - Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, East Dulwich, North Dulwich, Nunhead, Queens Rd Peckham, South Bermondsey – are in the London travel zone 2, and have direct services into central London on the trains going to the central London stations London Bridge, Victoria, or Blackfriars. The trains to these central London stations take only a short time eg from Peckham Rye, between 8 and 16 minutes. So within that time rail users can be on the Tube - one of 6 lines - Victoria, Circle, District, Northern, Bakerloo, and Jubilee. This is close to inner SE London being on the Tube. See here for pocket size rail maps showing how easy it is to get to SRUG stations by Tube.
But it depends on having enough trains coming in from the south from various directions to make this possible. These services are being cut and ruining the virtual Tube service. First we lost in 2009 the every half hour service between East Croydon and London Bridge leaving a big gap in services to London Bridge. Now we have lost the battle to keep the South London Line. From December 2012 we will lose those two trains an hour (tph) to London Bridge and the two trains an hour (tph) to Victoria. That will reduce the trains to London Bridge from Peckham Rye to 4 an hour (down from 8 in 2010) and leave a very partial service to Victoria, with big gaps in the evenings and at weekends. Stations after Peckham Rye will lose completely their direct connection to either London Bridge or to Victoria.
Why is this happening?
These services are vital for travel within London for users in the inner zone 2, and a key part of the interconnected rail system in London. However, unlike the Tube which is managed as a London service, we share these train services with the long distance commuter routes. They are therefore seen as just a tail end of services serving much larger longer distance commuters. The need to plan and manage the London part of them, as part of an interconnected London rail service does not seem to have been a priority for the rail industry.
Why did we lose the battle to save the South London Line?
While London Bridge station is being rebuilt 2013 – 2019 there will be fewer terminating platforms so a service had to be cut. The SLL carries fewer passengers than the other services so that was chosen to be cut. We will continue to argue for its revival in 2019 when the station is rebuilt and in full use again.
Campaign for regular, frequent services into central London just like the Underground
What this area needs in the absence of the Tube is regular, frequent services into central London just like the Underground. Download an A5 leaflet outlining what is needed for all the routes through our 7 stations. In brief this means all services need to be 7 days a week, early morning until late evening with regular times: every 15 minutes service on Victoria and St Pancras routes, and every 10 minutes service to London Bridge. With the interconnections possible through these central London stations to the Underground network, this would become as a user experience a virtual Tube service available at SRUG stations.
These are currently made up of the South London Line (SLL) a full all day and evening 7 days a week service from London Bridge, supplemented by two different services from Dartford & from Sevenoaks. These provide at Peckham Rye & Denmark Hill, Mon-Sat daytime, in total 4 trains an hour (tph), and in the evenings 2 tph plus irregular trains. From 2012, after the SLL is cut, this will reduce to just 2 trains an hour in daytime, & irregular, erratic services leaving gaps in the evenings and weekends. Sth Bermondsey and Queens Rd Peckham will have no trains at all to Victoria, and Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road will have none until their platforms can be lengthened. Nunhead’s services will remain the same as now - 2tph daytime and erratic gaps in evenings and weekends. These gaps need to be filled from 2012: see more information on the campaign to fill the gaps in Victoria services. We will continue to argue for the return of the SLL link between Victoria and London Bridge via Denmark Hill in 2018/19 when the station is rebuilt and in full use again.
Blackfriars & St Pancras
Current trains serve Nunhead, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill and Elephant & Castle on their way to Blackfriars and across the river to Farringdon, St Pancras, and beyond to Bedford. These trains come from Sevenoaks, and provide 2 trains an hour Monday to Friday up to about 9pm, and none at weekends. The service should be expanded so it is 7 days a week and late evenings, 4tph. This needs to be included in the new franchise for the Thameslink which will be out for consultation in 2012 to be in operation from 2013.
Current services come from Victoria/Beckenham/Croydon. These provide at Peckham Rye 6 tph, 7 days a week, but at irregular intervals. These will reduce to 4tph after 2012 when the SLL is cut, and Denmark Hill will lose all direct services to London Bridge. North & East Dulwich services now 4tph, will remain 4tph but with irregular times. Peak services are more frequent on these services. We need to have the trains returned to 6 tph and at regular 10 minute intervals when new timetables are designed or the franchise re-awarded in 2015. We will continue to argue for the return of the SLL link between London Bridge and Victoria via Denmark Hill in 2018/19 when the station is rebuilt and in full use again.
Clapham Junction – Canada Water/Jubilee Line via Peckham Rye (East London Line, ELL)
This new service will start in Dec 2012, providing 4tph, every 15 mins, 7 days a week, at Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High Street, Wandsworth Road. TfL say that more people want to travel east-west in inner south London than to London Bridge & Victoria. The Campaign to save the SLL welcomed the extra service east-west but disagreed that it should be provided by reducing services to central London.
TfL promoted the ELL, as a substitute for the SLL, as bringing the Tube to inner south London and especially Queens Road, Peckham Rye, and Denmark Hill. But the ELL is not the Tube. It is a suburban orbital Overground rail service run by TfL, linking with the North London Line. It is the rail equivalent of the road North and South Circulars, and not about getting people in and out of central London. If you want to get to east London or south west London the ELLX will be a boon. But if you want to get to central London via London Bridge or Victoria it will make the journey worse because it is replacing some of those services. This is why in addition to the ELL we need in SE London a return to 4 tph to Victoria and 6 tph to London Bridge at regular intervals.
The SE London rail services interconnect with 6 tube lines within about 8 to 15 minutes - Victoria, Circle, District, Northern, Bakerloo, and Jubilee lines. In addition the interchange at London Bridge with surface rail takes just 8 minutes to Charing Cross. New interchanges at Clapham, Battersea and Brixton with the new ELL would further multiply the value of these rail services.
But in spite of the positive aspects of the East London Line second extension in 2012 going through Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction, the picture for travelling westward from SRUG stations on the London Overground is less impressive. Major opportunities for integration have been missed
Local rail users have been very pleased with the resumption of services across the river to St Pancras and beyond, and that the Thameslink Programme proposes that Catford Thameslink services will run via Nunhead, Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill through the Thameslink core and across the river to St Pancras and beyond, continuing this essential link. This link is, however, woefully under-advertised. For example the boards at Peckham Rye station do not show these services travelling beyond London Blackfriars, their previous terminus.
The train pocket timetable booklet which brought together all the rail services through Peckham Rye and other SRUG stations was discontinued in 2002 by the two rail companies, and we were without any easily accessible integrated timetable information for many years. We are very glad to see that new timetable booklets on these lines are recently available again. Information like this is essential for rail passengers to make good use of the various services to organise their journeys at short notice. Many passengers are unaware of the rail travel opportunities available to them and there is much scope for improving this. We have urged all the rail companies to work with us to develop much more effective publicity and information about the services through these stations. But this has had no response. So we have suggested that working with rail user groups and other stakeholders to improve service publicity and information becomes part of the franchise requirements.
In the meantime, we have begun to develop our own SRUG maps for users showing how potentially well connected this area is to the Tube, by having direct services to several Tube stations just short distances and on several different Tube lines.
Station names are also significant in encouraging rail use. Denmark Hill is a very busy station with lots of visitors because of the hospitals and educational institutions in that neighbourhood. The SE5 Forum in Camberwell proposes that Denmark Hill station should be marketed as ‘Denmark Hill for Camberwell’ as many people do not see the relationship through the current station name, and it is important to get Camberwell on transport maps. SRUG supports this.
The London & South East RUS (Rail Utilisation Strategy) supports the extension of the Bakerloo Line from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham, going through Southwark (October 2011). There is a promising business case because it would provide access through central London without overloading the central section of the Bakerloo line, and at the same time provide a benefit of relieving National Rail lines to Hayes. This extension is unlikely to be feasible before 2020 or later, but both Network Rail and TfL have done some preliminary research into the issues, and indicate it has potential. But planning the route through Southwark needs to be discussed now, and public support galvanised to ensure that the Bakerloo Line extension through Southwark is factored into long term rail planning. This has now begun to happen through a public campaign led by the Camberwell Society and backed by the Council, for the line to come through Camberwell and Peckham. It has led to public support from London Mayor Boris Johnson 19 March 2013.
March 2015 Report published on the Consultation on Bakerloo Line extension October - 7th December