Murky Depths

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Abbey Wood, Transport

Abbey Wood station continues strong growth since TfL takeover

New Abbey Wood station now managed by TfL

Latest figures of passenger usage at Abbey Wood station continue to show further high levels of passenger growth. There was an increase of 19.3% in March 2019 compared to the same month last year.

While 2018 had the so-called “beast from the east” these numbers do continue a pattern of very strong increases in counted passengers since TfL took over management and begun staffing the station from first to last train alongside barriers.



March 2019 saw 281,825 people touch in and out compared to 236,274 last March. This is the pattern of growth since TfL took over with some months showing growth above 50%.

TfL figures since taking over Abbey Wood station

What’s even more impressive about these numbers is they come with a reducing local population as people move out of Thamesmead estates in advance of demolition.

Homes in foreground to soon be demolished

If stations such as Woolwich Arsenal were staffed all day the increases could be vast. It’s the same with Greenwich and Deptford. In reality there’s many across the Southeastern Metro network. This was a key element of TfL’s argument to take over SE Metro lines. The potential untapped revenue could be vast.

A greater number of staff present all-day is likely to be a key contributor to increased passenger numbers. People who could previously evade fares easily must now pay, and others who were wary of travelling due to unstaffed stations at night may now feel more comfortable doing so.

The excellent London Reconnections site yesterday published an article looking at how women use public transport. Feelings of safety using rail are a key factor in some deciding whether or not to do so and staff and barriers are essential to encourage usage. As the article states: “Half of women surveyed felt unsafe travelling on a train, waiting at a bus stop and walking to the bus stop. The figures for men surveyed were broadly at least half the percentages of women”.



This site has written regularly about some of the benefits TfL were proposing if Southeastern Metro routes were devolved and adequate funding available. Key to that was encouraging more usage through enhanced safety and staffing along with lower fares through by adopting the TfL fare scale.

When Grayling blocked plans for devolution I hoped local councils would shout loudly and lobby on both key issues. They have been barely mentioned which I’ve found incredibly disappointing.

Abbey Wood passengers now save £1 on each peak journey to Stratford under TfL

Incidentally, regarding the TfL fare-scale, passengers from Abbey Wood to areas such as Stratford are now paying less than from Southeastern stations such as Plumstead. Abbey Wood to Stratford is now £1.50 off-peak or £1.70 peak. At Plumstead it’s £2.30 off-peak and £2.70 peak. That could be a factor in increase usage of Abbey Wood.

Back to the London Reconnections article and there’s key differences in how men and women travel, with women often having shorter journeys linked together and frequently on foot and with children.



This touches another point often raised on this site constantly about improving walking links, such as around Westcombe Park station and from east Greenwich to the Peninsular.

Not welcoming

Of course everyone would benefit from more investment in safer and more attractive walking routes, yet the article makes the claim that male-dominated thinking may be behind poor design which ignores many users. Robust research in a compelling argument states women are punished through poor design to a greater degree.

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6 Comments

  1. Chris L

    Woolwich Arsenal is staffed for much of the day but they are hidden in the office on platform 1. Much better if they were visible on the gateline.

    • fromthemurkydepths

      True though they knock off at 8pm except perhaps for one person who is rarely ever seen. Easy to get through a gate too with the Southeastern station left open a fair bit. Though I’ve praised TfL in this article they are more lax at Woolwich DLR – I think because it’s one of the only DLR stations to be barriered so not in the DLR culture – and people often then get checked on the DLR itself unlike SE.

      • Robert

        My ticket is probably 25-50% checked on dlr. So less of an issue. I often travel just to Woolwich Arsenal for the Royal Arsenal and the amount of fair evading is huge. The gates are often open during the day. The amount fare evading i have seen between Plumstead and Greenwich is unbelievable.

        • Quite agree Robert. I would say that between Plumstead and Deptford less than half of travellers tap in and out outside the rush hour. Yes I know some will have paper tickets but you can see most travellers know the form and travel between these stations without paying is a low risk affair.

          Some may accuse me of exaggerating, but just go along to one of the stations and stand there for a while.

  2. JezSE10

    I’m sure fare evasion is a thing, but don’t forget anyone with a season ticket- even a seven day ticket- on their Oyster doesn’t have to tap in or out at stations without a gate line. NOT tapping out doesn’t mean fare evasion!!

    • I know. But look at my final para. Check it out for yourself.

      The weed-smoking, Stella supping characters who wander through un-mannned gates during the day don’t look like season ticket holders to me.

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