Save Thameslink rail services from Beckenham Junction (and succeeding Kent House, Penge East, Sydenham Hill, West Dulwich stations)

Letter from the Copers Cope Area Residents’ Association to save Thameslink rail services from Beckenham Junction, Kent House, Penge and beyond.

To: Bob Stewart MP, Gareth Bacon  (GLA Bexley and Bromley)

CC: Jim Dowd  MP,  Helen Hayes MP, Forence Eshalmo (GLA Lambeth and Southwark), Stephen Carr (Leader Bromley Council), local ward Councillors.

Dear Bob Stewart MP and Gareth Bacon (GLA)

You may be aware of the current consultation by Govia on its proposed changes to its timetable that will be operated by GTR in 2018 following the completion of the Thameslink Programme (see http://www.thameslinkrailway.com/your-journey/timetable-consultation).

The proposals cut out existing services from Beckenham Junction to St Pancras and beyond via the Thameslink Core (the 2 way track between Blackfriars and City Thameslink).  This affects services from Beckenham Junction, Kent House, Penge East, Sydenham Hill and West Dulwich in the London Boroughs of Bromley and Southwark.

We are seeking your help in challenging these proposals to retain these very important rail services for Beckenham. I refer you to a petition of nearly 800 local people campaigning to ‘Save train services from Beckenham Junction/Kent House/Penge East to St Pancras and beyond’ (see: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-train-service-from-beckenham-junction-to-st). I expect this petition will grow significantly in the coming weeks as more commuters become aware their train service will cease.

As there is now a new Minister for Transport, new London Mayor and plans to bring some London metro rail services into TfL there is an opportunity to review rail services in the South East and the decision to remove Thameslink services from Beckenham.

Currently there are 6 services that run from Beckenham Junction through the Thameslink Core daily Monday to Friday:

·       4 morning services (leaving Beckenham at 07:14 7:44, 8:02, 08:41)

·       2 evening services (returning to Beckenham at 17:18 and 18:19)

The removal of these services is not part of this current consultation by Govia on their timetable. But please be aware that there is significant local opposition and many commuters have not yet been informed that their services are going to be removed by May 2018. These 6 weekday services are essential for local people and are relied upon. This is evident by how well they are used – almost all the seating taken when the train leaves Beckenham Junction in the morning.

 Background

·       Our Association first became aware of the proposed cessation of Thameslink services from Beckenham in May 2014 when the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) was franchise announced.

·       Previously in the summer of 2012 the government held a consultation called “Consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise”. As part of this seemingly franchise/contract related consultation the routes from South London through the Thameslink Core were discussed.  Local rail users of this route were not proactively consulted and so they were not aware that only some of the services among those from Sutton, Wimbledon, Ashford via Maidstone East, Rochester, Sevenoaks, Orpington, Beckenham Junction and Kent House would proceed through the Thameslink Core to St Pancras and beyond.  In other words,  many were not aware this consultation would axe some services. It is documented in the proposal that Network Rail recommended rail services from Wimbledon Loop should terminate at Blackfriars and not go through the Core. 

·       Despite this recommendation by Network Rail a decision was made that trains from Wimbledon will go through the Core at the expense of those from Beckenham Junction, Kent House, Penge East, Sydenham Hill and West Dulwich. We understand that local government in Wimbledon were successful in lobbying for their services to go through the Core –  Beckenham residents lost out.

·       In Aug 2014 Govia confirmed that “The specification for the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, drawn up by the Department for Transport following a public consultation, required us to operate Wimbledon Loop services through the Thameslink Core. This, combined with other destinations required to be served by Thameslink trains, meant it was not possible to plan for trains from Beckenham Junction to operate through the Thameslink Core post 2018.”

The Department of Transport is stopping Govia or any other train operator (like Southeastern) running trains from Beckenham Junction to St Pancras and beyond. Further there are no guarantees that services will be retained from Beckenham Junction terminating at Blackfriars (the station before the Thameslink Core).

It does not seem reasonable that Wimbledon is given all the Thameslink services whilst a critical rail service is completely removed from Beckenham Junction, Kent House, Penge East, Sydenham Hill and West Dulwich. Surely there is capacity for these stations to retain their 6 daily services Thameslink services?

I trust we can be assured your support in reaching out to the relevant decision makers (London Mayor, DfT, TfL, Govia, Network Rail, Southeastern etc). I have also forwarded this email to MP’s, GLA Member and Councillors that cover the other stations affected and hope they too will offer their support.

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