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Southeastern’s May 2018 timetable: big changes but improvements above pre-2015 levels?

Southeastern have released service plans for the start of their May 2018 timetable. It’s released alongside Thameslink plans this time which I looked at yesterday.

Woolwich line

  • The link to Charing Cross on the Woolwich line via Lewisham is to be retained but services will start at Dartford instead of Medway.
  • I’m a bit surprised it doesn’t still run to and from Gillingham alongside Thameslink services to Medway as that would mean more trains to/from Abbey Wood to connect with Crossrail from December 2018. Maybe that will happen later in the year.
  • Fast trains are no more on that route. All Southeastern trains stop at all stations.
  • At peak times 6 trains per hour to Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park will be restored.
  • Two of those six services will be Thameslink services which will not depart from Cannon Street but nearby stations such as City Thameslink. An issue is whether season tickets will restrict passengers to one service?
  • Southeastern service times do not seem as slow as Thameslink service plans which are up to 25% slower despite calling at fewer stations.
  • The last train now departs London Bridge later at 00:51 which is very welcome to those having a night out or working late.

Bexleyheath line

  • The 2 trains per hour Victoria to Dartford service via Bexleyheath is extended to Gravesend. As said, I’m a bit surprised more trains to and from Medway aren’t directed to Abbey Wood for Crossrail connections.
  • Under Sunday services it states just two an hour on the Bexleyheath line to Victoria. That can’t be right for all services?
  • One extra morning weekday train to Victoria across the peak period

Sidcup line

  • A new fast service will be introduced during the off-peak period to increase services to 6 tph, with Charing Cross to Gravesend running fast from London Bridge to New Eltham then Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford and all stations to Gravesend. This replaces the previous fast service via Abbey Wood.
  • Reduced Off-Peak journey times between Charing Cross, Dartford and Gravesend are claimed but looking at the times it’s no better than before 2015.
  • One extra morning peak train to Charing Cross and two in the evening peak

Hayes Line

  • Only two trains an hour on Sundays
  • One extra morning peak train to Cannon Street

So, when looking across lines it seems better than the currently restricted post-2015 service levels but no real net gain from pre-2015 services, though certain stations will win and some will lose.

Thameslink was never going to really assist south east London to any large degree; it’s mainly for south and north London and suburbs beyond. So will south east London get many benefits in years to come? The future franchise guides and specification documents plus Network Rail plans seem very reticent on improvements, especially with the Department for Transport and Chris Grayling in charge.

Thameslink

There are also mentions of new and amended Thameslink services. I covered the Thameslink changes in much more detail here:

  • Confirmation that Thameslink services via Greenwich will only have eight carriages so no net capacity gain from 10-car existing services. And it will not stop at Woolwich Dockyard. That makes sense if 12-carriages used but not eight. Despite not stopping there, Belvedere or Erith, journeys are substantially slower along the line than before 2015. For example, Abbey Wood to London Bridge was 23 minutes fast or 27 minutes slow. Now it’s 32 minutes even at quiet times, even with less stations served than the previous 27 minute all-stopping Southeastern service.
  • Thameslink services via Catford via see four trains an hour.

Comments can on the Southeastern plans by emailing timetablemanagement@southeasternrailway.co.uk

Next franchise

By the way, last week a presentation on the next Southeastern franchise was given to Greenwich Councillors. Councillor John Fahy (Woolwich Riverside ward) put up a tweet on Twitter before it begun.

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I hoped once it was over he would then tweet some details of what happened. Nothing since despite being asked what happened.

Not one other Greenwich councillor has said what happened, what information was given, what questions were asked and what answers given.

Any of these things mentioned?

  • More all-day staffing at stations to man barriers and improve safety, especially at night.
  • Lower fares upon joining the TfL fare scale
  • Longer ticket office hours
  • Lewisham station and track upgrade work
  • Upgrade work at places such as Woolwich Dockyard for 12-car services
  • Longer trains and more capacity
  • More stabling space for trains
  • Integration with house building to provide additional income and better facilities

We don’t know as most local councillors seem resistant to using modern methods to communicate and disseminate local information, unlike councillors in other authorities.

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13 Comments

  1. Ned

    There is a full timetable on the Southeastern website – scroll down on https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/travel-information/thameslink-programme to ‘Greenwich Line – May 2018’ and there’s a PDF. The big gaps in the evening peak have gone if my reading is accurate.

    The slight problem with the new timetable is that trains home are split between Blackfriars and Cannon Street, so probably best to just get to London Bridge & take it from there.

    • Thanks – I had a look at the homepage for info and some others but missed that. Why it’s not on the homepage I don’t know! I will read and amend

  2. cutmle

    In addition to the consultation document, the (more useful) draft May 2018 timetables are at the bottom of this page: https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/travel-information/thameslink-programme

  3. Ned

    Just to add, you will need to click on ‘Read more on the May 2018 consultation timetable’ to see the list – PDFs for all the other Southeastern lines are there too.

  4. Walt

    Maybe they need the extra time to stuff all those the passengers in the 8 carriage trains (that is actually a job in japan btw)

    (ps did you see they repaired the one crack in the wall at normal st. in the weekend)

  5. David

    As a Sidcup line user (and being Sidcup based) the increase to 6 tph off-peak is a revelation. The Bexleyheath line currently has 6 tph off-peak (and retains this in the consultation), ditto the Greenwich line (8 tph via Charlton / Blackheath). The Sidcup line has been the poor relation and the proposed 4tph Charing Cross services are most welcome (although those in Lee and Mottingham won’t be happy) as the extra services run fast between New Eltham and London Bridge. I haven’t yet digested the effects on the other Dartford metro lines (or worked out where the extra rolling stock will come from) but – for the first time in my 20 plus years of living in this area – the western end of the Sidcup line would almost have the fabled metro style turn up and go services long promised.
    (My first comment on your excellent site, always a compelling read, keep up the good work !)

  6. You ask “An issue is whether season tickets will restrict passengers to one service?”

    It’s always been the case that regular tickets and season tickets (does anyone still use them?) are to/from London terminals, which includes Victoria, Waterloo plus Waterloo East, Blackfriars, Cannon Street and London Bridge. And, I’m sure, City Thameslink too, though for some reason I recall Farringdon is excluded. So there seems to be no reason for this concern.

    • Yup – also includes City Thameslink (replaced the old Holborn Viaduct terminal) and according to brfares.com, St Pancras Thameslink.

      • Jon

        St Pancreas Thameslink is a London Terminal but only when approaching from the north. You can’t go to or through Farringdon on a London Terminals ticket.

  7. Plumstead Resident

    That Greenwich line timetable is an improvement with more services running from Cannon St in the evening but it seems to be the same for services running to Cannon St in the morning.

  8. Luke

    This hardly looks good for the Woolwich line, you’d think there would be 4tph (2 CX-Medway, 2 Thameslink) to establish a new found connection between The Medway, Gravesend and the Elizabeth line.

    As for the loss of the the fast service again not happy, they’ve tried for years to run fast services via Sidcup or Bexleyheath but for the Bexleyheath line, the demand for a fast service has never been there except perhaps at Eltham, even then most Eltham commuters have used one of the numerous routes to North Greenwich and caught the Jubilee line into Central London, and as for the Sidcup line, while the demand is slightly higher that is required for a fast service, with Sidcup, Bexley and Crayford being largely populated areas, there is also a conflict with express trains from the South Eastern mainline around the Hither Green area plus the Hayes line which runs fast from Ladywell to London Bridge, hence why the fast services work better along the Woolwich/Lewisham and Greenwich lines because there are busier areas (Abbey Wood/Thamesmead, Woolwich, Blackheath, Lewisham and Greenwich) and have a higher usage, plus the fast trains from these lines are largely self contained and can be fitted around the timetable of other lines (Bexleyheath line for instance) Thameslink mightve worked better along the Sidcup line instead while the fast trains continue to serve the
    Woolwich, Lewisham & Greenwich lines

  9. Jon

    Did we get to the bottom of whether the Sunday service on the Bexleyheath line really is just 2tph?

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