Lewisham Gateway: more bus stop changes from now

You may not have heard about this, because Transport for London certainly haven’t made any effort to tell you, but further bus stop changes kick in around Lewisham Station from tomorrow, 21 July 2014, as major work progresses on the Lewisham Gateway development site.

Bus stops affected by temporary changes during summer 2014

Bus stops affected by temporary changes during summer 2014

Bus stop changes – details

Starting now, bus stops A and B – the ones called Lewisham Station which are located near Maggie’s, opposite each other on Lewisham Road – will be closed every day of the week between 10.00 and 15.30, until 18 September. These are the stops served by the 180, 199, 273 and 380 bus routes, in each direction.

Furthermore – and you get a little more notice on this – bus stops F and FF, also called Lewisham Station, located outside and opposite Glass Mill leisure centre on Loampit Vale, will also be closed every day of the week between 10.00 and 15.30, from 1 to 31 August 2014. Stop F is served by the 21, 47, 136, 225, 321 and 436 as they leave Lewisham town centre to head towards New Cross or Deptford. Stop FF is where routes 21 and 436 drop passengers off before they end their journeys behind the shopping centre on Molesworth Street.

You can see these stops, all with variously incorrect names (apparently because TfL told the developers the wrong stop names), on this map the developers have made.

Very unimpressively, today, less than a day before the first closure, there was no mention anywhere on or near stops A and B that these daily closures are happening at all. I’m told responsibility for such publicity lies firmly with Transport for London, but they haven’t even got an electronic message into their online stop-specific Countdown system, let alone publicity near the stop. Clearly there are a lot of ‘partner organisations’ involved in this development but if one party is singularly failing to provide timely information, perhaps it’s time for another to step in and stick up a couple of posters?

Latest photos

Lewisham Gateway progress, 19 July 2014

I’ve published another 35 or so photos from around the site over the past couple of weeks into the usual place – the top of my Lewisham Gateway album on Flickr. (All the photos have captions which you should be able to see on the web version of Flickr, at least – I think these days the apps and mobile version don’t make it easy to see the captions unfortunately.)

The photos include clear signs of work on the new Station Road, which I also tried to document on Vine on 17 July but the following short clip seemingly failed to publish successfully, so you can enjoy it here in non-looping format instead!

Consultation exhibition

Yesterday I attended the Lewisham Gateway consultation exhibition in Lewisham shopping centre and met several of the people running various aspects of the project.

Lewisham Gateway consultation exhibition

Sadly, I don’t have time to write up what we spoke about now (and I do mean sadly; I’d far rather do that than go and iron the shirts that have just finished in the washing machine). So that’ll have to wait for my next post…

Lewisham Gateway: Phase 2 consultation

I haven’t posted here about Lewisham Gateway lately, just because the project has been merely ticking along roughly according to plan – we’re in about Month 3 of 27 of Phase 1 and accordingly:

  • the old bus station site and former Station Road have been utterly destroyed and the river beneath them has been exposed and is being messed about with;
  • the Rennell Street car park closed, on 16 June, and combined with the former hillock where Save Lewisham Hospital marches used to set off from has become another hoarded-off section of building site;
  • a week from today, on Monday 14 July, ‘major roadworks’ begin around the roundabout: this’ll be the beginning of the end for the triangular islands in the centre of each road off the roundabout, and see various traffic signals moved into barrels for ease of manipulation – and the Glass-Mill-to-DLR pedestrian crossing moved to the Glass Mill side of its neighbouring railway bridge.

I continue to update my ongoing set of Lewisham Gateway progress photos (newest first), which generally have descriptive captions, so do check in on those from time to time if you wonder how things are going. Here are a couple of recent highlights…

Goodbye, Station Road bridge:

Lewisham Gateway progress 1 July 2014
Lewisham Gateway progress 3 July 2014

Rennell Street site:

Lewisham Gateway progress 4 July 2014

 

Phase 2 plans

But even as Phase 1 makes progress through its 27-month plan, the developers have their eye on Phase 2, and as such have updated their web site with a new page consulting on their plans for Phase 2.

A particularly striking thing about Phase 2 is that this isn’t the phase in which the reclaimed roundabout site gets redeveloped, or anything much happens anywhere south of that towards Rennell Street: no, this is actually the completion of what you or indeed I may vaguely have in the backs of our heads as being Phase 1 – the development of the former bus station and Station Road site.

Phase 2 of Lewisham Gateway is mainly about building new homes (flats) to the north of the new Confluence Place park – essentially, a strip of flat-building roughly where the eastern arm of Station Road ran until it closed recently.

Consultation exhibition

As well as the information and feedback form on the web site, there’s a chance to go to two exhibitions about the proposals next week, and indeed to “find out more about the work already taking place now”, which is perhaps the more alluring prospect:

Friday 18 July, 14.30–19.00

Leemore Centre
29-39 Clarendon Rise
Lewisham
SE13 5ES

Saturday 19 July, 10.30–15.00

Centre Square
Lewisham Shopping Centre
Lewisham High Street
SE13 7HB

No, I’m not 100% sure what ‘Centre Square’ is myself but I assume it’s probably the interior space in the shopping centre, next to Muffin Break.

So, what’s in store on the Lewisham Gateway site? When will some affordable housing put in its first appearance? (Phase 2, I hope – it was disappointingly dropped from Phase 1 to ensure the developer went ahead with the huge highway reconfiguration.) Just how many Phases will there actually be by the end of the Lewisham Gateway project? When is the end of the Lewisham Gateway project going to be anyway? All questions we may be able to get some kind of answers to at the end of next week – should be worth dropping in!

Southeastern draft 2015 timetables: lucky Lewisham?

January 2015 will see some huge changes to rail services in Lewisham and indeed much else of south-east London. From The Murky Depths has already covered this in some depth so do have a read.

Screenshot of Southeastern January 2015 draft timetable web siteOr dive straight into the timetables themselves on Southeastern’s site, but be warned this is not much fun for those of us living somewhere with more than one line passing through it as they’re presented as entirely separate PDFs, making it very tricky to get an overview of all services through Lewisham, for instance.

Undoubtedly the complete inability to change between Charing Cross and Cannon Street services at London Bridge will give people a major headache over the three years of major work at London Bridge that prevents these interchanges – yet in a set of timetables that for many will be grim reading, there are good news stories too and indeed Lewisham could feasibly be the luckiest station on the Southeastern network, notwithstanding its access issues of course!

For a start, Lewisham is well served by services destined for each of Charing Cross and Cannon Street, so the lack of interchange between these at London Bridge will pose less of a problem for locals. The main impact on us may well be people travelling from the lines feeding through Lewisham to London choosing to change at Lewisham for their desired terminus – be prepared for busier platforms.

Victorious

But this isn’t merely a case of us not being too affected by the bad news; the draft timetable for the Bexleyheath line (PDF) brings delightful, long-overdue and very welcome news too: our Victoria service is at last becoming a fully-fledged, all-day, seven-day-a-week route.

Every half an hour, Monday to Sunday, right through until typical service-end times at about midnight, Lewisham will be properly connected to:

  • Nunhead (for e.g. Thameslink services)
  • Peckham Rye (for e.g. Southern services)
  • Denmark Hill (for e.g. London Overground services) and
  • London Victoria itself, with its multitude of other services and Underground connections – somewhere it’s currently possible to head out to in the early evening but not back from past about 8pm (or indeed at any time on a Sunday).

These places are also destinations in themselves of course, not just of use for interchange. As long as improved connections to Denmark Hill don’t see Jeremy Hunt coming back for a second go at downgrading Lewisham Hospital and directing us to King’s College Hospital instead, it’s hard to see a downside!

Bexleyheath byproduct

The people most drastically affected by this generally excellent news are those living along the Bexleyheath line. Their current timetable (PDF) on a Sunday gives them a train to Charing Cross every half an hour, whereas their new Sunday timetable is 100% different, with no Charing Cross services but instead a half-hourly Victoria service all day – a pretty significant change from one week to the next. On the brighter side, the extension of the existing Mon-Sat Victoria service into the evenings means the evening service on those days doubles for Bexleyheath line-dwellers as these are simply added onto the half-hourly Charing Cross trains they already have.

Lesser-spotted Blackfriars service

A final oddity worth noting in the new timetable is Lewisham gaining a rather rarer but still potentially useful direct link to another key London terminus: Blackfriars (via Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill and Elephant & Castle). Don’t get too excited as the service levels don’t even come close to matching those of the current Victoria service, let alone the future: here’s the entire Lewisham to Blackfriars timetable for the week:

Monday-Friday from January 2015 – to London

Lewisham 08.03 08.23
Peckham Rye 08.10 ——
Denmark Hill 08.13 08.31
Elephant & Castle 08.20 08.39
London Blackfriars 08.29 08.49

Monday-Friday from January 2015 – from London

London Blackfriars 16.18
Elephant & Castle 16.23
Denmark Hill 16.29
Peckham Rye 16.31
Lewisham 16.37

(For details of stations served further out than Lewisham, see the full timetable PDF here.)

Yes, that’s all there is - a service level more akin to a 600-range TfL school bus than a rail service! Nevertheless, it could be useful on occasion and does mean from Lewisham you’ll be able to travel directly to six London termini (London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo via Waterloo East, Cannon Street, Victoria and Blackfriars).

Lewisham's central London rail network from January 2015

Zones 1-2 lines and stations directly served at least once per weekday by Lewisham trains from January 2015 are highlighted on this map

So all in all, despite the pain at London Bridge (which will surely be worth it by 2018 to make using that station more pleasant and ease congestion at one of the worst pinch-points in the whole UK rail network), I’d say Lewisham comes out pretty well from these draft timetables – would you agree?

Platform 4 gate: the case against

I welcome (and will always try to engage with) comments under my posts here on SE13URE. But one of the more surprising ways in which I’ve received feedback this week was through an e-mailed Word document letter sent to me via a mutual contact!

With permission of its sender, I’m reproducing it here in full, one paragraph at a time, with my comments, as it seems fair to air a competing view to my much-publicised petition - while also explaining why I disagree!

Dear Paul,

Firstly I wish to applaud you for the excellent Se13ure website.  It is very informative concerning the Lewisham Gateway scheme.   A pity that the Council have left it up to you to provide details of what is going on.

This is a little unfair on the council I think – the developers were tasked with providing this information and (after a very slow start) are now doing so to a decent standard.

That said I wish to take issue with you over the reopening of the dangerous slope from platform four into Silk Mills Path.  I have no doubt that you will get plenty of signatories for your petition but if you asked the motorists using a rat run if they did not wish to see road closures I expect you would get a 100% to sign up with no regard for the children and aged crossing the road.

I dare say you would get a majority (I suspect not 100%) but the comparison is inappropriate – even as the argument develops in subsequent paragraphs it’s clear that the only people whose lives would supposedly be put at risk by reopening the slope are those signing the petition as potential slope-users, so that’s not equivalent to the passive “children and aged” mentioned here.

Originally this was a track workers access route and never intended as a passenger entrance.  When it was used as a temporary exit during the installation of the staircases and lifts it caused a great deal of problems for the residents of this quiet, pretty street who had to endure not just a huge amount of rubbish but late night revellers, people urinating, even defecating between our parked cars, drug dealing and abusive, aggressive car drivers blocking our parking spaces while they waited for passengers coming down the slope.  All of this my neighbours and I would put up with while the first phase of the Gateway scheme takes place.

I’m glad we are at least agreed at this point that Silk Mills Path is a “quiet” street – I don’t know if I’d go as far as “pretty” but that’s just personal taste :)  The scenarios described here are of course not good, but it’s very hard to quantify. Much of the described behaviour is clearly illegal, so Police/Safer Neighbourhood Teams could be deployed to monitor this in the event it did become a serious problem. And parking there to collect commuters should certainly be banned, with enforcement.

However please consider how dangerous this exit is.  We residents of Silk Mills Path have witnessed many close shaves when passengers leaving the station via this slope step out in front of vehicles from a blind corner.  It is just a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt – even a bicycle could cause severe injury.  A  very likely accident as bicycles are not noisy.   No health and safety officer would ever countenance the use of this exit.  It is for this reason that Network Rail sensibly closed it.

I have considered how dangerous this exit is, and reached the conclusion that, well, it’s not very dangerous. For a start, we established in the previous paragraph that it’s a “quiet” street. I agree, which is why there’s simply not a high risk of accident. My correspondent mentioned earlier in his letter that the slope was open all the time during the installation of the lifts etc., which from memory took about a year; if it is truly “just a matter of time” before a serious accident, quite how much time will this be, if none happened during that whole year?

And even if we accept that this risk is serious, there are simple mitigation measures that could be employed such as:

  • a short barrier at the bottom of the slope to force people to walk left a short distance when reaching the bottom so that they’re no longer turning a blind corner; or
  • a mirror opposite the end of the slope to show what’s coming.

His next paragraph seems to turn a little sinister:

I have copies of much correspondence with Network Rail, station managers, politicians and other interested parties concerning this potential accident spot.  So if the slope were reopened there would be some anxious people who would quite rightly be fearful of litigation when the inevitable accident happens.  And be assured there are some of us residents who would have no hesitation in pointing the noses of injured parties in the direction of those responsible.

Is that some sort of threat? Does he believe that every signatory to the petition should be jointly and severally liable for damages in the event of this gate being reopened?! All the more reason to get as many people as possible to sign, I suppose, to limit each person’s costs ;)

Finally, I’m pleased to say we can end on another point of substantial agreement:

Paul, I totally understand your frustration at the longer walk you and many other rail travellers have to take but reopening that slope is not the answer.  Far better to make an entrance into Tesco’s car park as it appeared in the original plans for the upgrading of the station.  I have no idea why this was not carried out as it would be simple to, as you say, ‘oysterise’ and provide easier access for disabled people – something not provided by the slope because of the steep steps from the platform level. This entrance would also allow direct access to the central concourse, ticket office, platforms 1 and 2 and the DLR for those coming from the North side of the station.  Minutes in the morning are usually more important when going to work than when arriving home in the evening.

I completely agree that this is the only sensible way forward in the long – but hopefully not too long – term, and have said as much in the petition and in the message to Southeastern that each signature of it triggers. The problem with it, however, is that the eastern end of Station Road is closed now, and arranging to install a proper exit gate in the most sensible place, even if Southeastern miraculously agreed to it overnight, could take months. The only practical short-term fix is to reopen (and Oysterise) the Platform 4 gate – now.

I’d be interested to know what my correspondent has done in the years since the Platform 4 gate was last fully open to press Southeastern for the proper exit to be installed at the foot of the Platform 4 stairwell into the Tesco car park. I suspect, perhaps unfairly, that his enthusiasm for this exit is linked very closely to the chances he perceives of the Platform 4 exit gate being reopened…

(Incidentally, I’m not sure what the relevance of the point about morning versus evening minutes was, but as someone in the minority who catch a train from Platform 4 to work every morning, I’m very much in favour of not assuming any particular exit is only of use at any particular time of day.)

And my correspondent signs off:

Yours,
Geoff Fleming

Ah, can this be the same Geoff Fleming who is standing as UKIP council candidate for Lewisham Central on 22 May? It surely can. It seems Mr. Fleming is keen for thousands of locals to be inconvenienced for the next year for the benefit of the small minority who live on Silk Mills Path and fear problems from those exiting the station via their road. Typical UKIP, always defending minorities’ rights ;)

(Full disclosure: I’m a member of the local Labour party – it hardly seems fair to bring my correspondent’s affiliation into this without bringing my own into it too – neither is really relevant to anything under discussion, after all!)

Anyway, if Mr. Fleming (or anyone else) wants to reply to any of the points here, please do so in the comments – I’d far rather discuss this publicly than by letter. But (sincerely) thanks for the correspondence!

» Sign the petition here

» Full Lewisham Gateway content archive

Lewisham Station Platform 4 gate in Parliament

Thanks to everyone who’s signed the petition to get the Platform 4 entry/exit gate at Lewisham Station reopened so far – it has just hit its 100th signatory!

Meanwhile, Heidi Alexander MP (Labour, Lewisham East), who has signed and tweeted this petition, raised this in a parliamentary debate yesterday, as follows:

May I ask the Minister to revisit my correspondence with his predecessor, who is now the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, about Southeastern’s determination to keep the platform 4 gate at Lewisham station permanently closed? If we want people to use the railway instead of their cars, stations need to be as easily accessible as possible. Although I understand Southeastern’s desire to tackle fare dodging by having a fully gated station, that makes no sense when the next station stops are not gated. With a significant regeneration scheme now under way next to Lewisham station and access arrangements reduced as a result, the platform 4 gate issue has taken on new importance. Even if it cannot be reopened permanently, might a temporary relaxation be allowed for the duration of the construction works on the adjacent development project?

Robert Goodwill MP (Conservative, Scarborough and Whitby), who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport, responded:

The hon. Lady mentioned the platform 4 gate at Lewisham station. I have to admit that I was not aware of that problem, which is due to engineering works, but I will certainly look into it and see that it is addressed.

Fingers crossed that this achieves results!

In the meantime, please sign and continue to share the petition with your friends, family, colleagues… anyone else you think may be affected by this gate’s continuing closure.

The eastern stretch of Station Road is now shut so there’ll certainly be a lot more people wanting to do something about the extended walk now.

Incidentally, it seems the timing of the closure was a bit all-over-the-place: the original news update said the closure would be from 6 May (unless the tube strike – called off – went ahead); then today at 9.30am Lewisham Gateway tweeted:

Station Rd part-closure rescheduled to start from midday 8 May. Sorry for the change.

This seemed to fit with the Transport for London traffic order notice I’d seen on a lamppost last night, which said the changed rules for the remaining part of the road would come into effect at 12.01am on 8 May, 12 hours before their tweet said the road would close.

But by 3.10pm, that tweet had been deleted and the news then was that, in fact, the closure had already happened!

I didn’t come home that way today so I look forward to seeing this for myself in the morning. Perhaps I should stand at the closed end of Station Road handing out the web address of the Platform 4 gate petition!

» Full Lewisham Gateway content archive

Petition Southeastern to open the Platform 4 gate at Lewisham station

It seems we really are in Month 1 of the Lewisham Gateway 27-month plan now: today the developers announced that the complete closure of the eastern branch of Station Road will begin next week, providing one of their useful Google maps of the closure which illustrates the new walking route round from Maggie’s to the railway station.

Pedestrian diversion signage

This throws into sharp focus the need for the gate from Platform 4 at Lewisham Station to reopen immediately. Its closure already increased walking times by about half the time a train would take to get to London Bridge once you actually reached your platform. This new closure – due to last about 15 months – only worsens the situation by still more minutes, so it’s time to step up the campaign for Southeastern to do the right thing and open and Oysterise this gate immediately.

So: please sign this petition. Thanks!

Meanwhile, enjoy this sight while it lasts: this end of Station Road will close after the tube strike (or on Tuesday if the strike doesn’t go ahead), and when it reopens next year, it will have moved a lot nearer Maggie’s.

The old Station Road

» Full Lewisham Gateway content archive

Catford Bus Garage open day, 10 May 2014

This is arguably a little south of my patch but since I’ve been passed this info and it doesn’t appear to be among TfL’s online press release archive I thought I’d share it. After all, virtually all the bus routes based at Catford Bus Garage serve Lewisham town centre!


10128 LX12DFC STAGECOACH LONDON
Pic by Eddie, on Flickr (licensed by Creative Commons)

TfL say the following, occasional bits of which you may wish to take with a pinch of salt and/or contrast with their current Chair’s approach to the bus service (raise fares, freeze virtually all expansion, pour money into a vanity bus staffed by a health+safety inspector):

On Saturday 10 May 2014, the Catford Bus Garage in south east London will open its doors to members of the public in the first of a series of bus garage open days across the capital in celebration of the Year of the Bus.

Visitors to the Catford Bus Garage, which is operated by Stagecoach London and celebrates its centenary this year, will get the chance to:

  • Take a free ride on vintage and other interesting buses – 54v (Catford Bus Garage to Elmers End Station) and 47v (Shoreditch to Farnborough via Catford Bus Garage);
  • View the Year of the Bus mobile exhibition which tells the story of the London Bus and looks to its future;
  • Ride on a bus as it goes through the bus wash;
  • See behind the scenes in the maintenance area;
  • Take part in family activities about how to use the transport system safely and responsibly with the Transport for London (TfL) Safety and Citizenship team and pick up your free bus-themed family activity pack;
  • Get up close and personal with objects from the London Transport Museum collection and find out more about the stories behind them with the Tickets Please! handling collection;
  • Browse the London Transport Museum pop-up shop selling exclusive Year of the Bus gifts, and stalls selling centenary merchandise and bus-related memorabilia.

The bus garage open days are part of TfL’s celebrations to mark the Year of the Bus, in partnership with London Transport Museum and the capital’s bus operators.

Events and activities are being held throughout 2014 to celebrate the role that London buses, bus drivers and the staff who support them play in keeping the capital moving, and mark a number of important anniversaries. These include 60 years since the creation of the original and iconic Routemaster, 75 years since the launch of its predecessor the RT-type bus, and 100 years since hundreds of London buses were sent to the Western Front to play a crucial role during the First World War.

Catford Bus Garage was opened on 11 May 1914 and closed under a year later when it was commandeered by the War Department for use as a repair depot for buses during the First World War. It re-opened in October 1920 and in the early 1930s had its roof raised to accommodate double decker buses and again in 1948 to make space for the RT-type bus. It has been modernised a number of times over the years but its attractive exterior remains the same as it was 100 years ago.

Buses are a vital daily service for millions and one that is very local, with the vast majority of Londoners (95 per cent) never more than 400 metres from a bus stop.  Buses link homes to jobs, schools and hospitals in every part of the capital.  They are the backbone, and often the forgotten workhorses, of London’s transport network.

Other London bus garages opening their doors on Saturdays this summer are Alperton Bus Garage (7 June), Stockwell Bus Garage (21 June), Fulwell Bus Garage (28 June), Potters Bar Bus Garage (5 July) and Walworth Bus Garage (19 July). There will also be an open day at Dartford Bus Garage on Sunday 7 September.

Further information about bus garage open days and other Year of the Bus events can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/yearofthebus and www.ltmuseum.co.uk

They also provide some ‘notes for editors’, or ‘additional information’ as I like to call it before pasting it below:

  1. Catford Bus Garage has 152 buses operating on 17 routes. There are 450 staff based there. The bus garage has operated route 124 continuously since 1938.

They don’t list the routes, so I will, thanks to LondonBusRoutes.net: 47, 75, 124, 136, 178, 199, 208, 273, 354, 356, 380, 621, 660, P4, N47, N136. (Yes, that is only 16 routes, not 17 - I wonder if the 54′s moving back there on 3 May when Stagecoach take it over from Metrobus?)

  1. Free vintage bus rides are available throughout the day from Catford Bus Garage on Saturday 10 May. Timetables for both services – 54v and 47v – are available at www.stagecoachbus.com/london
  2. The 54v will leave Catford Bus Garage every 20 minutes for Elmers End Station between 11:00 and 15:00 (journey time: 21 minutes). Buses will travel back from Elmers End Station to Catford Bus Garage every 20 minutes from 11:21 to 15:21.
  3. The 47v will leave Shoreditch High Street stop N at 08:03 and travel via London Bridge, Canada Water Station, Lewisham Station, Catford Town Hall, Catford Bus Garage (arriving 09:01), Bromley South Station, Bromley Bus Garage and terminate at Farnborough Village at 09:37. The 47v will then leave Farnborough Village for its return journey at 09:52 arriving at Catford Bus Garage at 10:30. It then leaves Catford Bus Garage at 16:18 and arrives at Shoreditch at 17:25.

Since I found this canvas cruelly discarded in my block of flats’ bin room, and obviously rescued, fixed and hung it, I feel a particular affinity for the 47 route of days gone by, so you’ll no doubt find me on the 47v!

I should probably nick this (broken) from the bin room before the refuse collectors come tomorrow, shouldn't I?

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