Timetables for May’s Thameslink services on the Woolwich and Greenwich line have been uploaded to online planners and confirm that Thameslink services along the route will be slower than those operated by Southeastern before work begun on “speeding up journeys”.
And that’s despite calling at fewer stations.
Before 2015 a slow all-stopping service from Abbey Wood to London Bridge via Greenwich which stopped at all stations was timetabled at 27 minutes.
The online planners, as seen here, show Thameslinks services will now take 30 minutes for the same trip even off-peak and yet still skip Woolwich Dockyard station. This is despite train services being only eight carriages on planned Thameslink services.
The peak time spacings of Thameslink and Southeastern services result in some odd gaps too. In the morning peak a 17 minute gap for Erith and Belvedere stations for services towards central London occurs, with a train at 08:12 then nothing till 08:29. Woolwich Dockyard gets an 18 minute gap.
A service from Dartford to London takes 43 minutes versus 39 minutes previously and that is despite the planned Thameslink service skipping THREE stations that the previous service called at – Belvedere, Erith and Woolwich Dockyard.
And all this with brand new trains that are supposed to accelerate faster. Despite this Abbey Wood to Woolwich is slowed down from four to six minutes, to give one example. Progress from London Bridge to St Pancras is also sluggish.
A reason for this could be due to real doubts the service through the core section will hold up as services ramp up. As a result padded timetables and skipping stations seem to be an answer.
Skipping stations (in area of high housing growth) will possibly make performance statistics appear better for Thameslink.
Where was the campaign for better?
It must also be said that Bexley and Greenwich councils did a lementable job fighting for this service to stop at Belvedere, Erith and Woolwich Dockyard.
Bexley are obsessed with a Crossrail extension which is years off and ignored this easy win under their nose.
Greenwich likewise seem hapless on pushing for better rail services and didn’t ever highlight that this service skips Woolwich Dockyard, which is near the eastern half of the Charlton Riverside masterplan area of 7,500+ homes.
MPs such as Teresa Pearce and Matt Pennycook did a better job and raised issues which appear to have fallen on deaf ears with Chris Grayling and the Department for Transport.
It’s true that Southeastern plan to stop more services at these stations from May (only to possibly be cut again in future under the franchise consultation) yet the more that stop the better. It’s still a two train per hour service going begging and users at those stations will have to change to go to the Thameslink core.
It’s not as if faster journeys are the result or users of others stations benefit. As said above, there’s no speed advantage gained from skipping those stops.
Thameslink is a great addition for those along the line that benefit and the penalty isn’t huge, but for all the money spent this is not exactly impressive.