Battle to save train link into city centre

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SLP website: Article in South London Press 16 June 2009

Full two articles in SLP: press cutting

A CAMPAIGN is mounting to save a “vital” train service from South London into the centre of the capital. Campaigners say they will “keep fighting” a decision to chop the South London Line (SLL) rail service.

The SLL service, which travels from Victoria to London Bridge via Clapham, Denmark Hill, Peckham and Bermondsey, is due to stop running in 2012. It is to be cancelled because of a lack of platform space when Thameslink trains start using London Bridge.

A proposed replacement service, which would have travelled from Victoria to Bellingham through most of the same stations, has also been abandoned.

Transport for London (TfL) said the £24million saved from the replacement train service over 10 years would be better spent on the East London line (ELL) extension, which will link Clapham to New Cross and east London.

MPs, councillors, residents’ groups and hospitals near the train line, including King’s, Guy’s and the Maudsley, are now fighting to save the rail link.

Eileen Conn, of the Southwark Rail Users Group, said: “We are in total disagreement with the idea that what is important to this area is east-west rail links, rather than south-central links. “TfL’s priorities are not our priorities and we have never been consulted on this.”

John Stewart, of the Lambeth Public Transport Group, said: “The ELL will be useful, but it doesn’t replace this train service.”

Val Shawcross, Lambeth and Southwark London Assembly member and deputy chairwoman of the transport committee, said: “We have over 1,000 signatures on the petition already. Twenty-four million pounds is less than it costs to run many of the bus routes in London and they’re taking away a really quite important service for that.”

The campaign to save the SLL is due to officially launch this month.

A TfL spokesman said: “The withdrawal of the South London Line was always going to happen to accommodate the Thameslink works. TfL looked at both the Victoria-Bellingham route and ELL as alternatives to the current South London Line. The ELL project benefited more people and had widespread support.”