Southeastern passenger numbers rising despite operating fewer trains

New figures from the Rail Regulator show crowding on Southeastern increasing this year with passenger growth from April to June up despite operating fewer trains.

Signs that Southeastern were seeing high demand for services have been seen in parent company Go-Ahead’s trading statements, and at a more localised level with Abbey Wood station’s strong growth.

Abbey Wood station

Now figures out show a 3.7 per cent increase from April to June in 2019 above 2018 levels despite the franchise operating 300,000 fewer train kilometres per year. Transferring two out of eight Woolwich line trains to Thameslink is an example of why operated services have reduced.

These figures only go up to June. At Abbey Wood (in August at least) usage grew by over 10 per cent in 2019 above 2018.

Bubbling flooring on refurbished train

Despite more people travelling on fewer trains capacity cuts could be happening in coming months. Two-carriage Networker trains operating on branch lines will no longer be able to run due to disability regulations. They must be attached to four carriage trains in service. They lack numerous features required by law to operate alone after December 31st 2019 despite having a recent refurbishment.

A common site

Ironically some trains that meet now meet new regulations still contain dangerous features for the partially sighted such as bubbling flooring.

The new rules will mean branch lines needing other trains to operate – with either three or four carriage stock – and thus there will be a reduction in capacity on routes into London as four carriage trains are removed to be replaced with two-car stock.

Demolition of carpetright for new tower beside Lewisham station – this taken from platform

This is another example of the somewhat shambolic state of the franchise as a result of the Department for Transport awarding continual short term extensions since 2014. Strategic forward planning is minimal.

It was long expected trains would be replaced in time for the disability regulations. That has not happened hence a last-minute basic refurbishment which still doesn’t permit operation on branch lines.

New towers beside station

Even when the future of the franchise is decided and new stock arranged there are no sidings to store them as yet – so they need to be built. Improvements could be years off despite massive developments near stations such as Kidbrooke.

Remember when the DfT blocked devolution to TfL and some said they would want to show what they could do? Well, they did that alright.




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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.

4 thoughts on “Southeastern passenger numbers rising despite operating fewer trains

  • With large new housing developments already completed in Erith Abbey Wood, Woolwich, Charlton, Greenwich Peninsular, Greenwich, Kidbrooke and Lewisham. and many more new homes still under construction or in the planning including new homes in Bexleyheath and Thamesmead.

    With thel local population increasing I feel we will continue to see passenger usage increasing on Southeastern services for sometime to come.

    I also feel improvements to stations where there have been improvements including better security and properly controlled barriers and platforms where staff are on duty from first to last trains will also encourage some passengers back on to the trains.

  • Good news for Southeastern I guess. With so many developments on going in South East London .Major improvements to the transport infrastructure in the area will be required as soon as possible. This is a part fom Crossrail which is further delayed and the proposed Bakerloo Line extension which is not due for another 10 years or so if it goes ahead.

  • Strange many of us were told back in 2017when SE were making us redundant that passenger numbers were falling and were projected to fall for some time.

    • Yes it’s amazing how a brief blip in 2017 saw so many cuts on the tube and rail which aren’t being reversed when growth resumed.


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