All change on the trains

Happy new year! And welcome to 2015, the first of three years’ major disruption through the Southeastern half of London Bridge station.

I covered the major changes to Southeastern railway timetables which kick off on 12 January back when they were at consultation stage. I don’t think much changed between consultation and reality (correct me if I’m wrong!) so you can still refer back to that old post to get the gist of how it affects Lewisham. (In summary, we escape much of the inconvenience others may be enduring, and gain more Victoria services.)

In the meantime though, Southeastern have been very poor at publicising some shorter-term but even more major changes all of this coming weekend and the Sunday after too. @darryl1974 tweeted one of their surprisingly rare and certainly not eyecatching posters about this:

and has now also written this up for The Charlton Champion blog, which has nudged me to do the same here.

So (based on Realtime Trains) here’s a summary of train services from Lewisham station on the affected three days. There may be some variations at certain times (check before you travel!) but this should give you the gist of what unusual delights await…

Saturday 10 January 2015

Minutes past
each hour
Destination Platform
02/32 Dartford (via Bexleyheath) 4
05/35 New Cross (via St. John’s) 1
06/36 London Victoria (via Peckham Rye) 3
07/37 Charlton (via Deptford-Westcombe Park) Bus
08/38 Dartford (via Blackheath, Charlton and all stops to Slade Green) 4
10/40 London Blackfriars (non-stop) 3
11/41 Gravesend (via Sidcup) [Dartford via Sidcup after 22.oo] 2
14/44?* Hayes?* 2?*
17/47 New Cross (via St. John’s) 1
20/50 London Victoria (non-stop) 3
22/52 Charlton (via Deptford-Westcombe Park) Bus
24/54 Gillingham (via Blackheath, Charlton and selected stops via Slade Green) 4
25/55 Tonbridge (via Grove Park) 2
29/59 London Victoria (non-stop) 3

* There’s an odd anomaly with Hayes trains on this date on Realtime trains – there’s a half-hourly service from Hayes to Victoria (it’s the one shown at 20/50 minutes past each hour in the table above), but no sign of any trains to Hayes from anywhere until after 8pm. So perhaps they’re stockpiling 31 trains at Hayes in advance, or maybe running a lot of trains back there empty… or Realtime trains is failing to show the planned service in the other direction. I’m guessing the latter and have added the trains in accordingly based on the after-8pm running times.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Minutes past
each hour
Destination Platform
02/32 Dartford (via Bexleyheath) 4
02/32 New Cross (via St. John’s) 1
03/33 Charlton (via Deptford-Westcombe Park) Bus
04/34 London Blackfriars (non-stop) 3
07/37 Dartford (via Blackheath, Charlton and all stops to Slade Green) 4
08/38 London Victoria (via Peckham Rye) 3
11/41 Gravesend (via Sidcup) [Dartford via Sidcup after 22.00] 2
15/45 Tonbridge (via Grove Park) 2
18/48 Charlton (via Deptford-Westcombe Park) Bus
18/48 London Victoria (calling at Denmark Hill only) 1
21/51 Hayes 2
26/56 Gillingham (via Blackheath, Charlton and selected stops via Slade Green) 4
27/57 London Victoria (non-stop) 1
29/59 London Victoria (non-stop) 3

Sunday 18 January 2015

Minutes past
each hour
Destination Platform
03/33 Charlton (via Deptford-Westcombe Park) Bus
02/32 Dartford (via Bexleyheath) 4
02/32 New Cross (via St. John’s) 1
04/34 London Blackfriars (non-stop) 3
07/37 Dartford (via Blackheath, Charlton and all stops to Slade Green) 4
08/38 London Victoria (via Peckham Rye) 3
11/41 Gravesend (via Sidcup) [Dartford via Sidcup after 22.00] 2
15/45 Charlton (via Deptford-Westcombe Park) Bus
15/45 Tonbridge (via Grove Park) 2
18/48 London Victoria (non-stop) 1
21/51 Hayes 2
25/55 London Victoria (non-stop) 1
26/56 Gillingham (via Blackheath, Charlton and selected stops via Slade Green) 4
29/59 London Victoria (non-stop) 3

I hope this info is helpful. I can’t promise to do this again for all future disruption through Lewisham station (which I expect a lot of over the next few years while the work at London Bridge station is ongoing) but it would be nice to think that Southeastern might take the hint and offer this information themselves. We passengers can but dream.


Lewisham Gateway: more bus changes from 28 October 2014

The e-mail that was sent from the Lewisham Gateway developers to their mailing list this evening was exemplary!

Their e-mail clearly sets out exactly what changes are coming up to bus stops from 28 October, in far more understandable a format than has been seen previously, especially when it was left to TfL’s inadequate attempts to communicate complex information about the overall area using confusing, often truncated notices attached to individual stops and/or routes.

The only problem with the info is some confusion around east and west – these directions are switched throughout, as far as I can judge.

So, because the e-mail was so clear, I’m not going to duplicate the effort by writing about the changes myself. I hope they won’t mind me instead reproducing much of their e-mail here (with east and west corrected):

Lewisham Gateway Update

We’re making good progress in creating Lewisham Gateway, a stunning new development that will deliver hundreds of much-needed new homes, new jobs and a better connected town centre.

We are now entering the next phase in creating the new highways network, meaning we will re-open the Lewisham Police Station bus stop (stop E), but will need to suspend the stop closest to the Glass Mill Leisure Centre (stop F). More details are below, including a link to the map above.

We will also be holding our next ‘Meet the Contractor’ drop in event in a few weeks time, on 13 November from 17:30-19:30 in the foyer of the Glass Mill Leisure Centre.

Changes to buses – from 28 October to December 2014

From Tuesday 28 October changes to bus stops will affect routes 21, 47, 136, 225, 321, 436 and the N47 heading west and northwest.

From 28 October Bus Stop E (the Lewisham Police Station stop) next to Rennell Street, will re-open and bus stop F (Lewisham Station) located next to Loampit Vale will be suspended.

If you’re taking any of these services running north or westbound and usually use bus stop F (Lewisham Station) you will need to use one of the alternative nearby stops:

•    Bus stop E (Lewisham Police Station) for routes 21, 47, 136, 225, 321, 436 and the N47

•    Bus stop SG (Jerrard Street, Loampit Vale) for routes 21, 136, 321 and 436

•    Bus stop on Thurston Road for routes 47, 225 and N47

We anticipate that Bus Stop F is scheduled re-open in December 2014 and will be in touch again ahead of this with any further updates to bus stops.

Click here for a map showing where the alternative bus stops are and the bus routes affected.

South and eastbound services (i.e. those using bus stop FF) will not be affected.

Meet the Contractor drop in – 13 November

Want to find out more about what’s happening on our site, meet the team building Lewisham Gateway and let them know your thoughts on how the construction is going? Then please come to our next ‘Meet the Contractor’ drop in event.

When: Thursday 13 November from 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Where: Foyer of the Glass Mill Leisure Centre, 41 Loampit Vale, London, SE13 7FT. Click here for map

We’ll be further publicising the event closer to the time.

…And if the quality of that publicity sustains this standard, I look forward to that!

Lewisham Central Assembly, October 2014

Tonight Lewisham Central Assembly met at Albion Road Methodist Church just off the high street in the town centre.

Topics covered included Lewisham Council’s Big Budget Challenge, reports from organisations funded in the past, awarding of new funds to bidding organisations, and updates on things like Courthill Road pedestrian crossing and of course Lewisham Gateway.

You can read my full livetweeted coverage of it in this Storify compilation (which I’d like to have embedded here, as I’ve done in the past, but they’ve dropped the functionality to publish from Storify to WordPress, it seems).

Consultation round-up

Big Budget Challenge (until 22 Oct 2014)

There’s one big consultation central to the next four years of life in Lewisham borough, and that’s the council’s Big Budget Challenge – a chance to influence decision-making around cuts by actually trying things out in an interactive tool and seeing what the effect is on the council’s budget – and its services.

It’s not unique to Lewisham – for instance, here’s Bexley’s (recently ended) – but the figures here are particularly eye-watering. According to the tool, government cuts in council funding are such that to keep spending at current levels, Council Tax would have to rise next year by 103% – and that’s 103 percentage points more than were pledged in Steve Bullock’s manifesto, not to mention 101.1 percentage points more than the maximum legally permissible rise without an expensive referendum that no council has yet dared trigger.

The council will combine feedback from this tool with feedback gathered from residents at local assemblies (Lewisham Central’s is on 2 October) to determine how best to swing the axe so kindly delegated to councils by the government. Have a go now, if you can face it.

Brockley Corridor, Crofton Park etc (until 3 Oct 2014)

Straying a little from my Lewisham patch, but hey, can anyone think of any Brockley blogs? (Yes, I do know really.) The so-called “Brockley Corridor” is best thought of (to my bus-oriented mind, at least) as the bit of the 171 and 172 bus routes after they leave New Cross heading south.

Lewisham Council have obtained funding from TfL to make various ‘public realm’ improvements along this route, and we’re all invited to peruse a 9MB PDF and then answer a survey about it.

I don’t know the area that well myself but the principles of the plans look pretty reasonable on first skim – wider pavements, simpler crossings etc. should all help move the balance towards a better environment for pedestrians, hopefully!

East London river crossings (until 18 Sep 2014)

Finally, and most urgently, TfL’s mammoth consultation about river crossings from Woolwich to Belvedere shuts in two days. Again, not immediately in Lewisham, but anyone who’s tried to catch a bus through Lewisham town centre on a busy day during the Gateway roadworks will appreciate that the last thing we should be doing is trying to encourage more people into their cars, anywhere in the city, and certainly not in our south-eastern corner.

Also, TfL appear worryingly keen to scrap the free Woolwich Ferry, a lovely SE London institution – don’t miss your chance to object to this!

The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign has written an excellent guide to responding to this consultation, so rather than repeat their advice here I shall just encourage you to follow this, and to do so quickly as you’ve only got two days left!

P.S. Barking to Thamesmead Overground extension: a river crossing to get behind? (until 19 Oct 2014)

As an addendum to the final consultation above, this petition sprang up today and makes a lot of sense.

TfL are currently consulting on the extension of the Overground’s Gospel Oak to Barking line to Barking Riverside, but why stop there? With all the talk in the previously mentioned consultation of the supposed need for river crossings joining east and south-east London, why not continue this line over (or under) the river and provide Thamesmead with a railway link?

If you agree, sign the petition and why not feed into the consultation as well?

Lewisham Gateway: met the contractors

On Thursday, I dropped into the foyer of Glass Mill and met various people at the Lewisham Gateway ‘meet the contractors’ event there.

It was pleasantly surprising that I think everyone I spoke to was aware of my blog! Likewise, there was a fair bit of holding up of hands and acknowledgement that things could be much improved on the communications front, which was encouraging to hear.

Perhaps because of my own transport bias, my most interesting chat was with a representative from Transport for London. He’s going to feed back that their communications of bus stop changes in Lewisham have simply not been good enough so far – as I said to him, I’ve heard more about the closure of Putney Bridge than of nearly all the main bus stops in my own town centre, and I’ve never been to Putney.

I also took the opportunity to raise with him the apparent trolling of Hither Green residents in the planned final Lewisham Gateway bus stop arrangements (see end of that post), whereby the 181 and 225 buses will continue to stop at entirely separate stops with another between them, as had long been the case before the Gateway works began, despite both heading next to Hither Green. He’s taking this back to TfL and our conversation left me optimistic that this may well be able to be resolved now it’s been flagged up (no bus stop pun intended).

On a less optimistic note, I also tried to clarify stopping arrangements for all the buses formerly terminating at Lewisham Station. These were all curtailed to stop E opposite the Police Station, but this is now closed itself and most of these buses now set down at Stop F outside Glass Mill, on their way to the bus stand on Thurston Road. This was previously ruled out by TfL for reasons given to me in response to a Freedom of Information request a few months ago. Accordingly, TfL’s thinking on this is all a bit unclear at the moment – indeed the TfL rep hadn’t been able to pin down an exact list of which buses were officially dropping off there now in time to bring it along with him to this event.

It seems TfL are still not keen on using stop F due to the potential congestion, but were left with little choice but to give it a go while stop E is closed. I hope they’re monitoring how much of the theoretical congestion manifests itself in reality during stop E’s closure and will review their decision not to use stop F going forward accordingly, but I fear it’s more likely they’ll simply revert to stop E when it reopens later this autumn without any review. Keep your fingers crossed, station-bound bus users!

I chatted too with a council officer, and with Lewisham Gateway’s communications person, the latter of whom said he’d look again at the inadequate information provided on the project’s news page. The TfL bus stop closures link they currently give provides no information at all about alternative stopping arrangements – I suggested that for as long as TfL’s communications are that poor, just linking to them was inadequate and they should instead be plugging the gap themselves.

It looked like there’d been a steady flow of visitors seeking information about the project, so hopefully these drop-in sessions will be a regular occurrence over the coming months as Lewisham Gateway progresses.

And there was one thing that everyone I asked completely agreed on: whether they had any meaningful influence whatsoever over Southeastern, the private railway company (renowned for its complete lack of interest in customer service in the London ‘Metro’ area) whose franchise has just been extended by the government for several years without competition or consultation. I knew the answer before I asked, but asked anyway, and sure enough, it’s a ‘no’. So don’t hold your breath for that Platform 4 gate at London’s tenth-busiest non-terminus railway station to be opened any time soon.

Meet the Lewisham Gateway contractors, Thursday 11 September – plus webcam!

Over a week after my last post, Lewisham Gateway’s official News page has had a minor update, providing a somewhat useful map of suspended bus stops and a link to the shorter version of the inadequate information about this on the Transport for London web site.

More excitingly, they also announced a drop-in “meet the contractors” event (not mentioned on their News page, though!) taking place in the foyer of Glass Mill leisure centre on Loampit Vale (SE13 7FT) tomorrow, Thursday 11 September, between 16.00 and 19.30. This should be well worth dropping in on if you’d like to find out more about progress. I certainly would so I’m hoping to make it along!

Latest Lewisham Gateway webcam image

And the most exciting new online development is a webcam overlooking the whole Lewisham Gateway site, from the top of the old Citibank tower above the shopping centre. A glorious view (including my own block of flats) and I look forward to watching whatever timelapse video they make with the pictures they record over the next couple of years!

Lewisham Gateway: communication breakdown

I’d love to be able to give you an update on what’s going on with all the bus stops and bus routes around the Lewisham Gateway site at the moment, but I can’t, because once again the developers are failing to announce or share what’s happening, or update their out-of-date News page.

I gather from a bus stop notice on TfL’s site (the only such notice attached to any of the stops in the Lewisham Gateway area on TfL’s system, despite all the changes) that stop E – the one opposite the police station where all the station-bound buses had been terminating – is now closed for two months, until 28 October, for ‘planned pavements works’, but it seems no part of that plan was to announce this anywhere else.

I hear from a follower on Twitter – and saw to my own surprise in the case of an 89 yesterday – that buses may now be setting down passengers at stop F outside Glass Mill leisure centre, but this directly contradicts what TfL had told me was possible before, and I can find nothing to say this is officially happening anywhere, so goodness knows if that’s just kind bus drivers or official policy. I also saw a 208 setting down passengers at stop P, by the clock tower, this evening; if that’s where buses to Lewisham Station are now officially terminating, that’ll be very unpopular as it’s even more of a walk than stop E was.

89 at Lewisham station bus stop F

Update: while the bus stop notice linked above ends at ‘planned pavements works’, there’s a far longer notice available on each individual route, bizarrely, which reads as follows:

LEWISHAM HIGH STREET SE13: Routes 21 47 54 75 89 108 122 136 178 180 181 185 199 208 225 261 273 284 321 380 436 484 P4 N21 N47 N89 N136 from 1000 Tuesday 26th August until 1530 Tuesday 28th October will not serve Bus Stop Lewisham Police Station (E) due planned pavements works. Routes 108 178 261 N89 will serve nearest Bus Stop Lewisham Clock Tower (P) located on Lee Bridge Road. Routes 21 47 54 75 89 122 136 180 181 185 199 208 225 273 284 321 380 436 484 P4 N21 N47 N136 will serve nearest Bus Stop Lewisham Station (F) on Loampit Vale.

So it seems the use of stop F is official, despite contradicting TfL’s previous explanation. Long may it continue – they’ll surely struggle to justify returning all those buses to terminating at the far less convenient police station after this! (Although that notice includes some routes which never served stop E anyway, like 180 and 199, and certainly won’t be serving stop F, which they don’t go past.)

Stops F and FF (opposite F) have supposedly been shut between 10.00 and 15.30 daily since 1 August, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that is happening. Here’s a related and somewhat impenetrable TfL “Status alert for route 21”:

LEWISHAM HIGH STREET/MOLESWORTH STREET SE13 – ROUTES 180 199 273 380: From 1000 Monday 4 August until 1500 Monday 29 September August, buses will not served Stops F and FF due to roadworks.

Quite why a “Status alert for route 21” begins with a list of routes which aren’t route 21, and don’t serve the mentioned stops, I don’t know. It then goes on to specify a time period which we are well into and says the stops will be closed for all of it – I assume it’s meant to say 10.00-15.00 daily, not just that entire period, but either way, the stops are still open today, almost a month into that time. I look forward to it ending on “Monday 29 September August”.

Stops A and B, on either side of Lewisham Road near Maggie’s, were meant to have the same daytime closure arrangement in place from 21 July, but didn’t, then suddenly became completely closed 24/7 earlier this month, without warning.

And throughout all these changes, all the official Lewisham Gateway News page has mustered is an update, still unaltered, about the daytime changes to stops A, B, F and FF that haven’t happened in the way described, and an update about noise levels from sheet piling. I signed up for their e-mail updates from the start and have not received any of those since 18 July either.

But hey, when you’re dealing with dozens of bus routes interchanging with the tenth busiest non-terminus railway station in Greater London, why would anyone need to be kept informed?