The appearance of the Woolwich line in forthcoming Thameslink plans has raised a number of questions about wider changes to the rail service in south east London. The 853 blog has done a great job rounding up plans, which can be seen here. Trains are planned to run from Rainham in Kent to Luton. Two an hour will run from Medway through to Abbey Wood, Woolwich, Charlton and Greenwich and then call at numerous other destinations in London.
However the consultation documents reveal that they won’t call at Woolwich Dockyard due to short platforms. A perennial problem that really needs sorting, but what’s odd is that trains with Selective Door Opening will operate on Thameslink, thus long trains can stop at short platforms.
Woolwich Dockyard is the least used station on the line, but the demolition and rebuilding of Morris Walk estate plus emerging plans for thousands of homes at Charlton Riverside will cause a spike in demand.
The plans also reveal that Belvedere and Erith could be skipped. Erith has imminent plans for 2000 homes and Belvedere is the area designated to have more homes that any other part of Bexley Borough over the next decade.
The consultation then makes a worrying statement. Despite being in line for many thousands of new homes Erith and Belvedere, they will be served by “up to four trains an hour”. Both stations currently see six trains an hour off-peak and had more in the peaks before the whole London Bridge rebuild begun. Last year Belvedere had an increase of 11% to almost a million annual passengers, and Erith saw 9% growth.
The odd thing is the service will stop at stations like Stone Crossing, which has 165k passengers a year in 2013/14, and Northfleet with just 71k.
It also doesn’t mention whether it will replace the trains from Gillingham to Charing Cross. The fact the planned service does stop at places like Northfleet does suggest it will be axed. If they do go then the link from Charlton to Blackheath and Lewisham would go and the chance to then change to services to Victoria.
It would also mean that the entire line loses direct trains to Waterloo East for connections with South West Trains and Charing Cross in the west end. Currently only stations from Westcombe Park to Deptford permanently lose this link.
So, lots to consider. The consultation can be viewed and comments made here.