The momentary pause in passenger growth a couple of years ago after two decades of increases has been pushed aside as strong passenger growth has resumed.
The franchise operator GoVia (who also operate Thameslink) revealed in recent financial results that passengers numbers were up 5.5 per cent on the year before.
Due to higher than inflation fares in places, income rose by 7.4 per cent.
And that’s just the number of passengers who are counted. As we’ve seen recently, after TfL took over operating Abbey Wood station and staffed barriers from first to last train, the numbers of passengers recorded jumped by more than 50% in some months compared to the year before.
London Bridge completes
Growth across the board should be no surprise given mass housing growth in areas served by Southeastern – particularly in London up to Dartford. The continual closures due to London Bridge and Crossrail work has also subsided, though Lewisham signalling work still means frequent closures.
Normally such strong growth would mean planning for future capacity increases though Southeastern’s franchise process has descended into a mess and another short term extension seems almost certain. That usually means limited changes. It’s a big reason the bullwork of the SE fleet – the Networker train – is in a poor state and hasn’t had major refurbishment in 25 years.
Long term planning will therefore be limited. A falling economy and Brexit worries could also see numbers travelling reduce – though the past year has seen poor economic growth and numbers are still strong.
Crossrail delays should also ensure short term increases in numbers using Southeastern, and no additional DLR rolling stock until 2022/23 will also be a factor preventing people switching to that service. The DLR branch to Woolwich Arsenal is seeing strong growth due to mass developments such as Royal Wharf in Silvertown and so newcomers moving into Woolwich may choose Southeastern if travelling to the City.