southeastern-train

Kidbrooke again saw the biggest rise in passenger numbers on the Bexleyheath line, according to figures out this week. Large amounts of housing now underway saw numbers grow 17%, which is a slight slow down from 19% the year before. The rest of the line also saw strong increases:

Bexleyheath line 2015

Other growth highlights occur at stations closer to central London. St Johns was a sleepy station for many years and a likely candidate for closure until relatively recently. Last years 10% growth puts a stop to that. New Cross also saw rises at 15% on the year, though this is shared with London Overground. One other intriguing thing this year is that London Overground’s strong growth continued at 7%, but Southeastern was close behind at 6%:

passenger all tocs.jpg

Though New Cross’s 15% rise is tempting to mainly attribute to London Overground given recent history, it’s worth bearing in mind that LO only provide four trains an hour to New Cross on short 4/5 carriage trains, and with St John’s seeing 10% it’s likely a large chunk of that 15% is down to increasing pressure on Southeastern services.

Kidbrooke growth

Back to Kidbrooke and that 17% level of growth will likely continue for years to come. Anyone passing on a train couldn’t fail to see the large worksite beside the London bound platform, which is seeing a high density town centre created alongside towers up to 25 storeys in height. There’s also ample cleared land areas nearby where work has yet to begin.

Kidbrooke Stage 3

Berkeley tower beside station

And over the other side of the tracks, beside the Kent bound platform, TfL and Network Rail are looking at the possibility of building 400 homes including a tower up to 20-storeys, as covered here.

TfL Kidbrooke letter 2

Despite the growth there’s still no confirmed extra trains for Southeastern any time soon. Pretty much the only train operating company serving London that can say that. Some are likely around late 2017, but it’s not set in stone, and there’s no firm commitment on anything before despite some being available as Thameslink receive new stock.

Earlier this week I was following Daryl from the 853 blog on twitter as he reported a Greenwich public meeting. I’m glad they are engaging with the public, but some of the transport ideas coming out seemed complete fantasy, such as DLR on stilts or burying Plumstead Road in a tunnel. Incredibly expensive plans and things TfL have no interest in nor funding, as good as they may be. We’re talking hundreds of millions, or billions, when crucial long running schemes that will benefit millions and part pay for themselves, like a Bakerloo extension, take forever to get off the board.

Are they just a sop to silence concern over Silvertown tunnel? If so, an expensive one, as Greenwich council have spent tens of thousands on reports, and after getting nowhere and not even submitting the final version to TfL, now appear to want to spend large sums doing the same again.

I hear very little about Greenwich (and Bexley) council pushing hard for things that are attainable far more quickly and cheaply, like longer, 12 carrriage Southeastern trains to utilise existing infrastructure. Eltham and Kidbrooke would greatly benefit from a quick link to North Greenwich, but given the chances are incredibly small right now, then effort, money and campaigns should be focused on increasing all trains to central London and New Cross (for transfers onto LO) to 12 carriages within five years. As well as Bakerloo coming to the area. But given that’s 15 years off, and pressure is on now, push for the attainable. Longer trains. Other areas of the country are pushing for those Thameslink trains that are going free soon, and loudly. Maybe Greenwich council are and I’m being unkind, but I don’t see it.