The Public Meeting - What Happened?
If you missed the chance to be there, or enjoyed it so much you want to relive it all over again here's our summary of what went down on Saturday.
Despite it being a gorgeous sunny day, over 100 people popped in to the equally lovely Rivoli Ballroom to hear from the campaign team, Thameslink and Network Rail and find out what is being done to improve our service.
The meeting was chaired by local MP Vicky Foxcroft who has been front and centre in our campaign all the way.
Michael Woodhead from the campaign, Larry Heyman from Thameslink and Sam Cullen from Network Rail all gave updates on the progress. Here's what they had to say:
New trains: Thameslink have already started rolling new trains out on our route - you may have already got to ride in one. We have been working with them to push for the rollout to happen sooner than originally planned and we now anticipated that by June this year, we should have all new trains.
The new trains bring an extra 30% capacity for passengers and no more four-carriage nightmares - currently a huge problem, especially at the weekends. If you want to find out more about what the new Class 700s are like, Michael from the campaign and Vicky recently went on a test-ride.
Station Improvements: Thameslink have been looking at ways to improve station services and new waiting rooms have been appearing at Crofton Park, Catford, Bellingham & Beckenham Hill. The waiting room at Ravensbourne is also being renovated.
New Timetable: If you've not heard about the timetable consultation, you can read about the initial part of it here, but if you're already in the know, the next step is for us to get a report in the next few weeks that will give some more detail. Then (drumroll please) ... phase 2 will begin and we'll need you to show the same support for that as rocked phase 1.
Victoria services: We have already successfully secured three direct services from Crofton Park to Victoria and one from Bellingham to Victoria in the mornings.
Southeastern couldn't make it to the meeting, however, as their franchise ends in December 2018, we could potentially have a different operator running our Victoria services after this date.
We're going to coordinate a response to the Department for Transport, with Vicky's office and Lewisham Council to emphasise just how important it is for us to keep, and expand, those services - whoever is running them.
Larry from Thameslink gave a presentation and, for more detail, you can view the slides from this here.
Vicky then opened the floor to questions and here are some of the key points made:
Can anything be done about the poor interchange at Blackfriars? For the elderly, unwell, anyone with limited mobility, parents and those travelling with luggage. For anyone with a long wait or late at night, Blackfriars is a far from ideal interchange.
The campaign has consistently pressed for all of our trains to go beyond Blackfriars and will keep pushing for this, including services that run later than 9pm. If its not possible to run all of our services through Blackfriars then we will be fighting to ensure there is enough time to catch the connecting service while trying to manage with baggage or buggies.
Its great to see there have been some station improvements on the route but what else can be done to make our environment better? The Department for Transport assign a budget for station improvements and this is shared out based on the number of people using stations. A lot of money has gone on the new waiting rooms but there's still plenty of scope for more.
Please email email@example.com with your suggestions for improvements and we will pick this up with the train operators.
We love them in the mornings, but what are the chances of getting Victoria services in the evenings? The campaign team will be meeting with Southeastern soon to discuss this. As the franchise for Southeastern ends in 2018, we will also be lobbying the Department for Transport to ensure that more Victoria services are included in any plans for the next franchise. We will really need your support to help us make this happen - weight of numbers is key.
The new trains are spacious and do make it easier to travel, but what is happening with their reliability? The new Siemens Class 700 trains are currently averaging about 4,000 miles between failures which is not good enough and which is why Thameslink are still running some of our older trains. The new trains rollout is on hold until the number of miles between failures improves and Thameslink are working with Siemens to continually improve the reliability of the new trains so that they are operating at the level they should be.
What about making the stations and trains accessible for all? There have been some accessibility studies carried out on the local stations and there is also funding set aside by the Department for Transport to make improvements. Vicky and the campaign team will be writing to the DfT to enquire as to what can be done about some of the stations on our route that have the worst levels of accessibility - including looking at the gap between the train and the platforms.
Why should I have to tap in and out if I have a travelcard? For stations with no ticket barriers, the only way for the train companies to know how many people are using the services is from people tapping in and out. If you don't, you don't get counted so it looks like there are fewer passengers using stations and trains than there actually are.
It's all about the numbers again: the more passengers that are recorded, the more chance we have of securing more train services and more money to improve our stations - so please always tap in and out!
If you have a question that isn't answered here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to help.
Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting and all those who have contributed to the campaign and please do help us keep fighting!