Severe rail cuts remain in Greenwich as people return to work

This week has seen small steps to restore certain services by rail companies as people return to work. However sharp cuts to rail services continue with up to 30 minute intervals between Charlton and London Bridge via Greenwich throughout the day.

Greenwich and nearby towns are not just areas of employment but also major areas of housing growth, the site of numerous leisure and tourist attractions plus the site of large education facilities such as the University campus at the Old Naval College. In other words, not the place where 30 minute service intervals suffice.

University of Greenwich

However Southeastern have cut services in half from four to two trains per hour, and Thameslink have done likewise from two to one per hour.

Greenwich park

Peak time isn’t much better. There’s 20 minute gaps at times and yesterday morning one train was running late, so that turned into a 26 minute gap. That’s a major issue with such low frequencies; an already poor service level from Zone 2 into central London becomes abysmal with even slight delays.

Slight delays cause big gaps to become bigger. No trains from 7:36am to 8:03am.

Despite also seeing severe issues with funds, TfL have managed to run the DLR at the usual five minute interval. The DLR however is far slower to areas of central London than from Greenwich railway station, with Southeastern services seeing London Bridge just eight minutes away, Waterloo in 12 minutes and the West End in 16 minutes.

Hotel in Greenwich beside station

Central London attractions are impacted to boot if people face poor service levels to reach the centre, particularly when heading home late at night. Buses are extremely slow and not a great alternative. Over an hour is likely compared to a 10 minute train ride.

Despite being told to travel sustainably and use public transport, severe reductions mean little will do so with such long waits. Car travel  becomes ever more enticing despite heavy congestion.

Treasury cuts

The Treasury under Chancellor Rishi Sunak have made no secret of huge cuts demanded of rail before seeing what level of service returns. Last year Government were pushing for bus passenger analysis while lockdown hadn’t even finished, and the agenda appeared pretty clear to cut before normality returns.

Of course it’s likely peak time commuting will be down for some time, but conversely leisure travel has been strong and such long service gaps to tourist destinations such as Greenwich a mistake. It’s hurting other areas of the economy.

We’ve all heard about the regular battles between Government and TfL over funding (the latest deadline is next week with no discussions yet underway) though cuts to London rail has been quieter as the Treasury and Department for Transport have increased their grip and micro-management. Southeastern was taken in-house at the end of 2021, with the Treasury calling the shots since and so far it doesn’t present a pretty picture for what lay in store for TfL.

Business beside Deptford station which has also seen severe service cuts

Heavy services cuts on rail and possible cuts on the DLR will not be music to the ears of many hotels in Greenwich and those working in the tourism sector, including some hotels which have only just opened and other with planning approval.

Site of 300-room hotel planned on former Greenwich Magistrates site

It also seems crazy that funding pots has been allocated to entice people to areas such as Greenwich market, while public transport levels have been reduced greatly.

Greenwich market
Long term

Service levels long term are still an unknown – and there’s little faith in the DfT keeping on top of housing numbers.

In Deptford, for example, work is now finally underway on an eventual 3,500 homes at Convoys Wharf.

There’s also over 300 homes now rising a few minutes walk from the station.

Creekside housing

That includes the former Tidemill school site:

Tidemill school site on left. Taken Jan 2022

What happens when people move in, attempt to travel by trains, see how poor it is and leave it? More congestion.

With the Treasury now apparently seeking a cuts-at-all-cost agenda, the impact on existing and future residents – let alone tourist industries and commuters – will be great. If they can do it in a major area of growth in the capital, what will happen elsewhere? Levelling down still seems to be the main thrust from government, despite a levelling up rhetoric in public.


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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.

4 thoughts on “Severe rail cuts remain in Greenwich as people return to work

  • These cuts will have a serious impact on commuters as well as anyone travelling on the Greenwich Line. Services should be at lease every 15 minutes.

    John as raised some very good points as always. With the amount of new homes under construction services will become much busier as more people return to work and people move in to new developments.

    That is with out the tourist that people are hoping will return to Greenwich this summer.

  • The service is no better on the services via Hither Green. Trains stopping at Lee have intervals of more than 30 minutes during off-peak. In the wait for the next train from New Cross to Lee, I was able to take two buses home before the train was due to arrive at New Cross.

  • @anonymonus201481 I agree. South East London and in particular the Boroughs of Lewisham Greenwich Bexley and Bromley always seem to get a raw deal when it comes to public transport improvements generally and rail services with long waits between trains.

    Not everyone can transfer to the Elizabeth Line as would need to take a long journey and a change of buses to reach the Stations at Woolwich or Abbey Wood.


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