Cinderella's Going to the Ball
Despite a week of snow, nearly 100 local residents braved the weather and made it to the Rivoli Ballroom on Saturday to hear about the future of rail services at Crofton Park. For those who couldn't face the cold, or who made it but want to hear about it all over again, here are the highlights:
The Perfect Opening
Local MP Vicky Foxcroft made the introductions and Michael from the Cinderella Line campaign talked about the achievements of the last few months and future plans.
People Power! We came first! Over the last year we've asked you to do several surveys for Thameslink, telling them what you want to see from the new services.
Brilliantly, for the second and third rounds of the consultation, Crofton Park provided the highest number of responses across the whole network of 140 stations - beating Brighton, London Bridge and London Victoria in the 'having our say' stakes - a real tribute to Crofton Park power.
As a direct result: from May this year, we are getting FOUR TRAINS AN HOUR! This will effectively double our off peak services. In addition, we will also get two extra peak time services in the morning and two more in the evening, with scope for this to be increased in line with passenger needs in the future.
This is the culmination of years of work from the campaign, but as Michael mentioned, although we have achieved what the campaign set out to do, there are still a lot of hills to climb and we are willing to keep pushing for further improvements to the services and the station, as always, with your support.
Mind the Gap:
Liz James, a local resident from Crofton Park has been campaigning to close the gap between the train and the platform. Liz told us what she has been doing in terms of collecting evidence to understand the size of the problem and what she and all of us, might like to see.
Platform humps are costly to install at the station, however Liz had a simple suggestion of better signage to make it easier to find the best place to board the train if you are struggling.
At this point it was over to Thameslink to fill in some of the detail. Larry Heyman, Stakeholder Engagement Manager gave a brief update about recent performance on the line, driver recruitment and the new 2018 timetable.
Let's say it again: from the 20th May, we will get four trains an hour from Crofton Park in both directions. Two will go to Blackfriars and two will run beyond to Kentish Town, with peak time services going to and from Luton. This was not originally in the franchise plan, set out by the Department for Transport on our route but Thameslink have been able to put forward these new services due to the overwhelming support from local residents.
This will be the pattern throughout the week with the exception of Sundays where we will only have two trains an hour at first due to engineering works.
Better interchanges are now an option too. For those that want to get to and from London Victoria, you can get off at Nunhead and a Victoria train will be along to pick you up from the same platform a few minutes later.
The interchanges at Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye are also being improved for Overground services.
It was then over to a Q&A session to give everyone a chance to put forward their questions to the team. Some of the key questions raised are below.
Q: I am concerned about accessibility at the station. As a more elderly train user, what assistance is there for me to help me get on and off the train given that there's such a gap at Crofton Park.
A: There is an access helpline that you can call to pre-arrange travel. This is available to anyone that is either a disabled rail user or has mobility issues and is open 24 hours a day. Just call 0800 022 3720 and they will help to arrange the best option for you to make your journey, which may even include a free taxi service where appropriate.
Q: Its wonderful that we will be getting 4 trains an hour throughout the day, but I am concerned that in the new timetable there are only an extra two train services in the rush hour, so we will still be overcrowded at Crofton Park.
A: The new timetable has been designed to provide a more even and consistent service across the whole network. Currently, passenger loadings are uneven due to the current timetable where certain Thameslink services don't call at every station on the route.
With the new timetable, the services are evenly spaced and call at every station so passenger distribution will be more even. In addition to this, there are now more direct services to London Victoria in the peak periods (4 from Bellingham, 3 from Crofton Park & 4 from Nunhead) that will also help to take the pressure off the core route towards Blackfriars and St Pancras.
The Cinderella Line will be asking Thameslink to keep a close eye on passenger loadings to ensure the new services are fit for purpose.
Q: When can we actually see the new timetable?
The timetables are currently being loaded into the National Rail database, which has taken slightly longer than planned, but should be available to view in the next few weeks. Pocket timetables will be available from the end of April, and the Cinderella Line team will be emailing round the full timetable details once these are available, so make sure you sign up to the mailing list if you aren't already on there.
There were other important questions from the room that needed further research before a satisfactory answer can be given. The Cinderella Line team will continue to investigate everything raised at the meeting and will update when we can.
If you have a question that didn't come up, or wasn't answered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take it forwards.