Rail minister admits housing figures in Southeastern franchise consultation are wrong

Last week I revealed that the Department for Transport had included a mistaken figure of just 36,000 homes coming over the next decade in areas served by Southeastern trains.

In consultation documents released for the next rail franchise, potentially running to 2028, they came up with the 36,000 number based on a report from 2015/16 named City in the East from the Greater London Authority. I’d read it, and the City in the East report showed far more planned housing than that and picked them up on it.

36,000 was simply way too low, and the real figure is 68,400. And that’s only the area in London near the Thames.

Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead Teresa Pearce wrote to the Rail Minister Paul Maynard asking for clarification. She’s now received a reply and he concedes the number is wrong. Apparently a mistake was made. Doesn’t bode well does it?

Rail Minister Paul Maynard claims it was simply a “presentational” mistake and doesn’t impact on planning. Let’s hope he’s right. Here’s the letter:

It doesn’t give much faith in the Department for Transport, who insisted late last year on keeping control of Southeastern trains in London under Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Rail Minister Paul Maynard. They opposed devolving powers over fares, services, train numbers, station staffing and maintenance to TfL and the Mayor of London despite massive improvements seen where TfL have taken over.

It raises questions on assumptions the Department for Transport are working to, and on issues such as the department blocking additional trains to Southeastern at the end of last year which would have been bolstering capacity by now.

It was the same Paul Maynard who revealed extra stock was not coming in early 2017:

Lack of depot space was the reason given. Did the DfT not think of that when they renewed the franchise in 2014 and again in 2016? If they had, crowding would be less of an issue now. As it is, those trains are now sitting in sidings serving nobody after coming off-lease from Thameslink.

Since that reply was given three and a half months ago no new plan has been announced.

Other questions are also raised on issues contained in consultation documents out last week, such as just four extra carriages to be provided to the Bexleyheath line by 2024, and not a single extra carriage for the Woolwich and Greenwich line by 2044.

Here’s a screenshot showing planned extra carriages by 2024, and then 2044.

And the funny thing with the admission that the DfT have made a mistake by almost halving planned housing numbers? Even that 68,400 figure is now below what is expected. The figures for Charlton in the City in the East document were 5,000 homes. The numbers just a year later now look to be at least 8,000. There’s similar examples in many towns.

Thanks again to Teresa Pearce who has done sterling work. Many Tory MPs in south east London and Kent appear to have gone very quiet on this issue except for Bob Neill.


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

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