Moving forward again
Not long now until we can hopefully all go to a ball again, so the Cinderella Line team have been dusting down our glad rags and picking up transport issues on behalf of our community - not that we ever stopped but there are always new changes and challenges to be tackled.
As you know, back in February our peak time train services were cut to just two an hour to reflect reduced passenger numbers, leaving us with no services beyond Blackfriars. We’re now pleased to be able to tell you that some of our key services are being restored.
There is also some extra support coming for passengers to make it easier to travel on the route and we have pushed to get key improvements to our stations too.
(One Step Forwards?) Four trains back
Only we could get so excited about this, but we’re really happy to confirm that our peak time morning and evening services will be restored to four trains an hour from Monday 17th May. These services will run between Orpington and Luton, giving us two additional services in the morning and evening rush hours Monday - Friday and restoring the vital option for passengers to travel beyond Blackfriars without needing to change trains.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on passenger numbers, as more people want to travel again, to ensure that there are enough services running and passengers can feel safe on board. With more demand, we also expect to see our four trains an hour reinstated throughout the day, but like a transport-based chicken-and-egg scenario, the trains won’t come until the passengers do.
Thameslink have done a great deal of work enhancing their cleaning regimes to ensure that the trains are regularly disinfected, the fabric of the seats is thoroughly cleaned and any parts of the train that you might come into contact with (buttons, hand rails etc) are sanitised.
Keeping you mobile
In a really useful initiative to increase the availability of Assisted Travel, mobile station teams will be introduced for 41 additional partially-staffed or unstaffed stations across the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern network. On our route this includes Crofton Park, Beckenham Hill and Ravensbourne. These teams will provide everything from assistance in purchasing tickets or climbing stairs to deploying a ramp to help board the train,
The new service will be available to all, so whether you are travelling with luggage, have a pram, small children or just require extra assistance with mobility, the team will be on hand. You will be able to request them either by using the help points at the station or via a freephone number and they will arrive within 20 minutes
The mobile support teams will be introduced once pre-booked assistance requests recover to 50% of normal, so that enough people are making use of the system to enable it to be refined. Thameslink is expecting customer numbers to recover rapidly as lockdown restrictions ease and will be in touch once the team is introduced at Crofton Park and other stations on our route.
More than a lick of paint
As you may recall, following on from the issues with the new timetable implementation back in 2018, each of our stations was awarded funding to make improvements for passengers and we asked you all to submit your ideas. From that we put forward a list of proposals for Thameslink to implement.
Despite lockdown, much of this work has now been done, including better station signage, new departure screens as well as waiting shelters and upgraded lighting.
At Crofton Park, one of the issues that is always raised to us is the gap between the train and the platform especially when travelling Northbound. There is a plan to move the track closer to the platform however Network Rail aren’t able to schedule this work for a year or so due to the time it takes and the need to close the line to be able to complete it. In the meantime we have worked with Thameslink to install signage to point out where it’s easiest to board the train.
We hope that this small but important step will help to make things a little easier for passengers until the work can be done to move the track.
Thameslink have also installed improved way-finding signage at all six of our Cinderella Line stations to make them friendly, welcoming and easy to find where to go if you haven’t visited before, though we don’t understand why they wouldn’t have visited before. It’s great round here!
Further enhancements are planned and we look forward to sharing these with you as and when they happen.
For now, thanks, as always for supporting us as we take the next step of our journey together and work to make sure that passengers feel heard, supported and can rely on our vital railway service. Safe travels.