In recent days reports have increasingly emerged of trains becoming crowded at certain times with social distancing difficult as the economy reopens and schools are back. For those hoping for relief, it won’t happen for around four weeks.
Some stations are currently seeing a large decrease in services. Erith, for example, has just a train every 30 minutes compared to every 10 minutes before. The Woolwich line has also lost direct trains via Lewisham to Charing Cross and Waterloo East. The Bexleyheath line has just two trains per hour to London Bridge during the day. The Hayes line is down to just two trains per hour.
Southeastern have stated that increased services will only happen at the May timetable change commencing on 16th May.
Congestion on roads
In the meantime, reduced links could push more towards buses or cars. Not great when congestion is already very high across London and Kent, and not only in areas with LTNs. Erith has been notably busy on the roads. Hundreds of new homes have recently completed.
In recent days bus usage in London has increase to just shy of 60 per cent of normal demand – up 15-20 per cent from the week before, with the tube up to around 35-40 per cent of normal demand, which is an increase of around 15 per cent on the week before.
There’s also the question of whether Southeastern are monitoring demand sufficiently, with no on-board staff except the driver to feedback on numbers (unlike many other operators) and most stations having no barriers – or those in place left open – which makes avoidance of payment easy and measurement of passenger numbers more difficult. The majority of their Networker fleet lacks passenger measurement tools, unlike their newer long-distance trains.
Even brand new stations are being opened – like in Kidbrooke – without any barriers. That’s pretty much unheard of in London.