February already and the Cinderella Line campaign is fit and ready. Already lined up for this year we've got campaigners on the box, eyes on the gap, an MP ready to roll, questions on numbers, makeovers in waiting and a missing train...restored.
On the One Show - with Thameslink's CEO
Last week, Vanessa and Salima two of our campaign members got a chance to catch a train with Patrick Verwer, CEO of Thameslink - and be filmed doing it.
Patrick, who stepped in after the resignation of Charles Horton, following the new timetable debacle of May last year, was being filmed for The One Show meeting Thameslink train users from different parts of the network and asking them how they liked the new services.
Our not-so-intrepid roving Cinderella Line members got a chance to literally air their feelings and frustrations about living on this part of the Thameslink franchise. The show was on BBC One on 13th February but you can still catch it on iplayer, if you want to see what The One Show made of Thameslink. If you don't want to watch the whole programme, just skip ahead to 17 minutes to see the segment.
What's New Pussycat?
Since our last public meeting in November, we've met with Thameslink and Network Rail and our local MP Vicky Foxcroft to catch up on progress.
One of the things we've pushed Thameslink for is actual numbers on just how busy each service is. We know from what we see and you tell us, that despite the extra services, some trains are still jam-packed. It's more important than ever that we know where the real pain points are to ensure that our train operators are focusing on improving them.
Vicky Foxcroft has also tasked Southeastern with looking for more services that they can stop at Crofton Park. Southeastern services often sail straight past a full platform only to be held at a red signal further up the line. If the trains are going to be held up anyway, why can't they be held up at our stations so we can get on them?
The Not-So Grand Canyon
Something that comes up a lot is the sometimes huge gap between the train and the platform. Its not safe. Its difficult to board the trains and for some residents it simply makes the service unusable. Its all very well having four trains an hour but it’s no good if you can't get on them safely.
The good news is that Network Rail have set up an action group to specifically address this issue and Crofton Park is firmly on the agenda. We will have an update once the meeting has taken place and we're expecting to hear both short-term and long-term improvements to address the problem.
Saturday Night Leavers
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed an anomaly in the Saturday timetable – if you are travelling home from Blackfriars, there is currently a whole hours gap between 22:46 and 23:46 where there should be an extra service at 23:16. How are we supposed to get home after a night out in London, or a late shift at work?
The good news is that this gap will be filled in May this year during the next timetable tweak.
Changing Waiting Rooms
Thameslink are keen to look at how they can improve the whole experience for passengers and one of the ways to do this is to improve the stations. We know at several of our stations we now have waiting rooms, but they aren’t always open at times that suit passengers.
Some of the station waiting rooms could definitely do with a full-on makeover to give them better facilities and make them feel like safer, more useable places to be.
If there are specific things that you want to see improved at your Cinderella Line station, send us an email with your ideas and we'll put them forward.
The Brains of the Operation
Thameslink and Network Rail have invited the campaign to visit the very heart of their operations - the control centre at Three Bridges. This is where they take key operational decisions on all of our services in real time.
It's a train-nerds dream, of course but we're hoping to get real and useful insight into their operations, that we can use to help them improve how they get information to passengers.
Bouncing off the Walls
Thameslink have kindly donated some more poster spaces for us to use at all six of the Cinderella Line stations. We're going to use them for the campaign so look out for our posters over the coming months.