Wow! Thank you so much!! Over 100 local residents attended our meeting with local councilors Pauline Morrison, Vicky Foxcroft, Alan Hall and Tom Copley from the London Assembley.
We also welcomed Councillor Renata Hamvas from Southwark Borough as many local residents there have already been in touch with her regarding the same issues that we face in Lewisham with the current Thameslink service.
Unfortunately neither Govia Thameslink nor Network Rail were able to send representitives to the meeting to hear our concerns which was disappointing however the meeting was still a great success as everyone had the opportunity to air their issues with the current service.
Vicky spoke first to introduce everyone and explained that she was disappointed that Thameslink were not here to listen to their passengers, however they were aware of the meeting and sent a written response to her in an attempt to address some of the key points.
View the written response from Thameslink
After everyone had been introduced, Tom Copley spoke to talk about the work of the London Assembly and to make everone aware of the potential changes that could come into place if Transport for London do eventually take over this route as part of their wider plans to manage all of the suburban rail services in South London.
Then we briefly spoke about the campaign and our core aims before giving the floor over to the local residents and commuters to voice their issues that they currently face.
We heard from a great number of local residents about the issues that they currently face with using the service. Some of their comments are below:
"This is an unsafe service, it's so overcrowded"
"I don't want my baby to be squashed" (said by a pregnant lady)
"I feel awful for the people who can't get on"
"Sometimes the crush is so bad that the horizontal handrails are dug deep into my side where I'm pushed against them"
"The stress and anger from people on the train is horrible - the situations we are forced into".
"Twice last year my wife got swept on to St Albans. She goes to West Hampstead, but they ran the train fast from St Pancras without telling anyone. When they got out at St Albans, they were fined. 19 people. They refused to believe there had been no announcement. That happened twice last year."
"Why do they let late-running Southeastern trains ahead of ours all the time, even when we're on time sometimes?"
"How can the apps have better information than their own staff?"
"I pressed the info button at Crofton Park to try to find out what was happening - there was no decent information. I had to explain to the guy on the other end where Crofton Park was."
"It's so super stressful" (overcrowding; delays)
"I went to one of the meet the manager sessions at Farringdon. They said the trains leave Sevenoaks on time. They're right, they do. But they never arrive at Crofton Park on time and they never arrive in central London on time".
"My trains are always late, the timetable can't be working".
"I work night shifts and regularly get stranded on my own at Blackfriars late at night due to cancellations" (said by a woman)
"I get a train one or two trains earlier than I should have to" (said by several people)
"I sometimes use Ladywell, which is 20 minutes' walk away, even though I only live 4 minutes' walk from Crofton Park - because of the unreliability".
"I used it for 2 months but had to give up. It was so unreliable. I cycle now. We had to change nursery for our child because of it."
"I've lived in various European countries and Japan. This is the worst train service I have ever seen."
"I get to work feeling I've already done a day's work"
"I want Thameslink to come on the 7.56 with me and experience it for themselves"
"Two trains an hour. That's all we have. That is crazy."
As you can see, it does not make for pleasant reading. There are some serious issues that need to be addressed.
We are very lucky to have the backing and support of Vicky and the other councillors and it was all agreed that our next steps will be to arrange a meeting between us, the local councillors, Govia Thameslink and Network rail to raise all of the points we have mentionned and see how we can move forward.
We are immensely greatful to everyone that has supported the campaign so far - please continue to help us keep the pressure on and move this forward!