Public meeting update
Huge thanks to everyone that attended our public meeting and to both Thameslink and Network Rail managers that gave up their time to meet with local residents about our service.
Our campaign gave an update on the 4 key things we have been working on since the last meeting which were:
New trains - We have been pushing Thameslink to deliver the new trains for our route as soon as possible. The new trains will give us an extra 30% capacity on each service so its vital that we get these running. We are due to see these on our route from November this year.
New timetable - In 2018 there is a new timetable that will come into place for the whole of the South East part of the rail network. The new timetable is a complete redesign of the existing timetable and is our one opportunity to get more trains an hour at Crofton Park. The consultation for the new timetable opens shortly and we will be coordinating this for local residents.
Services to and from Victoria - We have been working with local MP Vicky Foxcroft and Southeastern Railways to look at how we can reinstate services to London Victoria from Crofton Park. This would give us a vital connection to central and west London and an important alternative when there are issues with the main Thameslink route. Southeastern are actively investigating this for us, and we should have more news on this in the next month.
Longer term Transport for London (TfL) takeover - We have met with Transport for London to look at the longer term prospect of them running some of our services once the current franchise with Thameslink ends. TfL are looking at taking over the Southern Rail services initially, and then this would give them scope to look at other services too. There is not a current plan for them to take over the Thameslink services as the routes are simply too far out of London (Brighton and Bedford) for them to consider taking over the franchise as it currently operates.
Thameslink & Network Rail
Thameslink and Network Rail then gave brief updates on what they are doing to improve our service, including root cause analysis of some of the issues that cause delay on our route from Network Rail, and Thameslink relocating their control center to Three Bridges which will improve our real-time information especially when there is a delay.
Thameslink gave a more detailed update on the new trains, and explained that there have been some teething issues with the new trains initially but these are all software related. They are receiving frequent software updates from Siemens to resolve the issues, and once the issues have been ironed out then they will be in a better position to roll out the new trains.
Thameslink currently have 95 new drivers going through training, and there are between 6-8 new drivers each fortnight that complete their training and are ready to start work on the routes so we should see less and less services cancelled due to driver shortage.
Network Rail gave an update on some of the works they have been doing, including major replacement works at Nunhead junction which should mean fewer issues for us when passing through this junction.
Questions from the public
We then gave the opportunity for people to ask questions to the campaign, Vicky Foxcroft MP and Thameslink & Network Rail:
The realtime information is very poor and often you can check the app before leaving home and by the time you are at the station the information is wrong. What are you doing to improve this?
The relocation of the control center to Three Bridges should mean that we see a huge improvement in real time information. Currently, information has to come via another control center but once this is centralised it means that a clear message can be put out to customers about any changes in service.
What happens with the timetable consultation? How does this work and what does it mean for us at Crofton Park?
There is a consultation that opens for the new timetable where anyone is invited to submit feedback on the new timetable proposals. The consultation will open for a 12 week period. During that period its important that everyone is in agreement with the proposed services for Crofton Park. The current proposals are for 4 trains an hour in the peak period and three trains an hour in the off peak period. The campaign will provide details to everyone about the consultation and how you can feed into this.
Why is it that in the evening and weekends our trains terminate at Blackfriars. This is inconvenient and we need trains to run all the way through the main route?
This is a limitation of the current timetables. When the new timetable proposal is being looked at, this is something that we need to fight to get as its vital that we have services that run all the way through the main core route.
The station conditions at Crofton Park are very poor at the moment. Its filthy and needs to be cleaned and more money needs to be invested to improve it. What is being done about this?
Thameslink recognise that the station is not up to standard and will be raising this issue to address the immediate cleaning needs. There is also a station development fund where money is going to be invested to improve the station including a covered waiting room with food and drink facilities on site.
The new timetable sounds great, but how will you look at future growth? Many people don't use the current service because its so bad, but when we get more trains and hour and newer trains, how can you ensure that you have planned for future growth?
Thameslink trains have sensors on the doors to count passengers on and off the trains, and some of the trains have built in weighing devices to weigh the total number of passengers to calculate how many people there are (by putting the average weight of a person at 80kg). This, together with data from people touching in and out of the station will give the basis to calculate current numbers, and then we use other data to look at what future growth will look like.
Our campaign group are meeting with the train timetable planners from Thameslink in three weeks time to look at the new planned timetable changes in detail.
Once this has happened we will share these with all of you, and let you know how you can feed in to the proposals.
If you aren't already on our mailing list, please sign up here to get details of the timetable consultation and general updates on the campaign.