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SE London rail passenger growth – Sidcup line increases

Following on from recent posts covering the Greenwich line, which saw large growth at Deptford station of 11.7% on the year, and the Eltham line, which saw huge growth at Kidbrooke of 19%, today it’s the turn of the last line out from central London to Dartford – the Sidcup line.

All stations saw strong growth in 2013/14 though there was no one station with figures as high as the other lines. Hither Green topped the table with a very respectable rise of 8%. Many other were between 6-7% annual growth.

Sidcup line 2013-14

Very solid numbers across the board. Sidcup also stands out and passes through the three million mark.

All this raises the question of when southeastern will finally get some new rolling stock? Not just to enable 12-car running on the Greenwich line to compensate for peak time service cuts, but also to deal with ever increasing passenger numbers across the entire Southern London metro network.

With the Tories proposing very large cuts to the transport budget, the lack of definite plans is a worry. Labour never really had much interest in transport or infrastructure in office until the tail end of its tenure, so I wouldn’t be too confident with Ed Balls as chancellor. Let’s not forget that Thameslink work, which is the cause of much future upheaval at London Bridge, was originally called Thameslink 2000 as that was its intended completion date. Only 18 years late.

Crossrail is also years behind plans as Labour put off approval for years in office despite strong public finances back then. Both schemes’ delays were then exacerbated by the coalition delaying all schemes from 2010 for at least a year. The knock-on effect is train orders for Thameslink were halted, and this has now caused a lack of stock available for cascade to southeastern to lengthen trains.

The best hope for London in future is for Mayors to have their powers strengthened, with decision making, strategic planning and crucially funding moving away from Whitehall. TfL taking control of rail services will move also help SE London move away from reliance on Whitehall approval, which has caused no end of issues for the entire country, London included, for too long. The repercussions of that will be felt soon with Southeastern service cuts and a lack of stock to alleviate it.

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1 Comment

  1. Iain Mitchell

    Hi there,
    Thanks for an interesting blog especially transport related articles. As a user of the Sidcup line (or Dartford Loop if you prefer), do you know if there ever been any serious discussion about the possibility of terminating the line at Hither Green? Controversial I’m sure but here are some thoughts: Tracks between HG/Lewisham and London Bridge are extremely congested and will continue to be after the London Bridge works are completed. Trains coming up to London regularly stand at HG waiting for clearance as they have to join the up line on a flat junction. The London Bridge developments are primarily about “untangling the lines” ie removing flat junctions and removing cross overs that are the curse of railway lines built in the south east to enable choice of route. But with flat junctions on the country side, the benefits are restricted. I’m no expert but I don’t think it would be easy to build a flyover or flyunder to facilitate through traffic at HG.
    On the plus side there seems to be ample room for a crossover at HG to send the trains back down the line. A tube like shuttle service between HG and Dartford could see trains running much more regularly, changing from being focused on a time table and be operated instead on a “trains per hour” basis. This in turn would allow more trains on the lines between HG and London Bridge. I imagine that there would be a big protest from the customers but I notice that many people take a “fast” to HG and change over to the loop platforms currently indicating that people would be willing to change trains for a better service. I agree that the bridges at HG could be improved and platform layout could be rejigged slightly to allow more freedom of movement. If I had a service that ran reliably and regularly because it could and connected with another line that ran regularly and reliably because it could, I know what my choice would be.

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