Elizabeth line v Southeastern: The big divide as one costs more and offers less

With the Elizabeth line up and running now for some months I’ve still seen and heard of many people using Southeastern to reach Woolwich from Abbey Wood, to which one wonders why?

For those unaware, many passengers on National Rail in London in London have for many years – and still do – paid more than those using Transport for London transport for similar trips, and that remains the case for Crossrail versus Southeastern and Thameslink.

Abbey Wood station. Elizabeth line and Southeastern side by side

Now though, some lucky parts of south east London have joined much of the capital in seeing lower fares.

That means a single journey on the Elizabeth line from Abbey Wood to Woolwich costs £1.60 off peak and £1.80 peak. Compare that to £2.40 off peak and £2.60 peak on Southeastern from Abbey Wood to Woolwich Arsenal.

Networkers aren’t in the best condition

The fare discrepancy remains when travelling all over London to boot. Travelling from Abbey Wood to Tottenham Court Road on the Elizabeth line? You’ll pay less than on Southeastern from Abbey Wood to Charing Cross, to give one of many examples.

Though of course from next month you can’t reach Charing Cross direct from Abbey Wood. Perhaps not so bad if not paying more than many in the rest of London.

Is it any wonder many don’t pay and skip fares on the line, with Southeastern making it easy with open stations and a fare structure taking the pee?

On Southeastern you’re often treated to unstaffed stations much of the time, and *very* scruffy trains alongside those higher fares.

Networkers are in a very sorry state. Ingrained dirt seen all over carriages

One irony in all this is that when rail was privatised, the ethos of private enterprise was supposed to take hold.

No sign of that on Southeastern Metro in 30 years, mind. The Department for Transport and Treasury never really let loose on the service yet bled every penny they could from the area’s rail network while rarely investing.

Woolwich Arsenal sees minimal staffing even for a busy station. Side gate almost always left open now too to avoid paying

People talk of a north south divide. Not often do they realise there’s one in London itself. For decades those who had the tube paid less for equivalent point to point journeys.

Don’t’ believe me? Try for yourself here and check similar fares.

Even now there’s no sign – or ability – of Southeastern to compete with the Elizabeth line.

And that’s not just from Abbey Wood to Woolwich but from Abbey Wood and Woolwich to various spots all over London. Again, check the fare finder page to see.

You can take a scuzzy 30 year old train on Southeastern that are almost always filthy, have no air con in summers and dodgy heating in winter, no staff on-board and little staffing at most stations *and* an intercom that’s little but crackle much of the time when problems arise and still pay more for it, or take a brand new line that costs less.

Bubbling floors. Ingrained dirt. Generally filthy. Southeastern Metro through and through

For many in south east London and Kent though who rely on Metro that still isn’t an option, so clapped out Southeastern it remains.

But if you are near Abbey Wood you can now join much of London in paying less for more. Sorry everyone else. Want someone to blame?

Forget Southeastern for a minute and look to their paymasters who pull all the strings in Whitehall.

Woolwich Arsenal side gate usually open due to lack of staffing enabling passengers to avoid paying

They’ve deprived funding long before the pandemic, which has now resulted in a derisory environment for passengers.

But if you’re in Abbey Wood or Woolwich, remember you’ll almost certainly pay less to use the Elizabeth line than Southeastern and have a better experience for it.

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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.

12 thoughts on “Elizabeth line v Southeastern: The big divide as one costs more and offers less

  • Agreed about the pricing but the Southeastern trains are not “filthy”, they are just somewhat worn which isn’t a bad thing in itself, not everything must be brand new, you pay for that too. I find Southeastern train layout to be much more cosy than the overly bright tube cars.

    • Look at the radiators along the floor. There’s years of ingrained filth which has never been cleaned. Then look at radiators on tubes, DLR and other railway stock. The Networkers are in a terrible state

  • Everyone rides south eastern for free and only taps in at Woolwich for the DLR don’t they?

  • No, you cannot even enter at Abbey Wood station as there are always gates and attendants.

  • So what? You have to lick those radiators or what? The conditioned Western “quality of life” is unsustainable neither environmentally nor financially without someone else living under much worse conditions. Time to downgrade those ridiculous requirements that are both impractical ad unnecessary.

    • Christ talk about a race to the bottom. It’s a shithole inside and people deserve better. Cleaning a train is unsustainable environmentally? Well, it’s an argument I suppose.

  • Standards of upkeep on south eastern is well below whats acceptable and visible on buses and TfL modes of transport. Not left behind papers and cups but the underlying standards. Many trains look like they havnt seen a wipe in decades.

    It’s simply not a pleasant environment with chronic neglect. Yes, things like radiators and filth in fittings do matter. It says much about how the service is valued by the company and just how passengers are thought of.

    Do we want people to use public transport or not? Doing so is environmentally friendly but ambience and standards on local trains is so grim I would hardly blame people for giving them a wide berth.

  • I wasn’t on about cleaning (altho that too can become excessive in some cases, such as buffing the trains daily in the peak times of graffiti) but the constant calls for the train replacement as this very site has been rambling about constantly. If your “bottom”, as you say, can be defined by marginal changes in the outdoors level of cleanness (or should I say sterility), then your life surely must be exciting.

  • Add that to the fact that from December 11th Southeastern are going to roll out their worst ever timetable change, which, contrary to their advertisements that falsely claims to “Send people to where they want to go more reliably” will actually sever the connection to the West End from a large part of SE London.

    The Liz line will only soak up more passengers but that helps only those at Abbey Wood and Woolwich (the Liz line station there is a away from the town centre as well) The route 53 has been spared its cut back to Elephant & Castle so that route will keep the Waterloo/St. Thomas’s Hospital connection plus their every ten mins and a cheaper ride too.

    SE with their new timetable are basically saying to us that they’ve given up on running any semblance of a decent railway service, nobody wants Cannon Street outside of peaks, yet every train on the Woolwich line will be a City train, utterly ridiculous

  • I can see your point just don’t see anything grim or filthy about Southeastern trains and being autistic I am pretty OCD about how tidy my home is. Just that I don’t expect the outdoors to be completely sterile. In fact, London is so clean that your clothes or shoes can barely get dirty at all even after multiple days. Maybe it’s because I travel often I have some points of reference. Complaining about this when the common sense should make apparent so many more pressing issues seems counterproductive (and no, you cannot have everything).

  • While the 53 route will continue to run beyond Elephant & Castle its termination point is in Lower Marsh some distance from both Waterloo Station and St Thomas’s Hospital – OK for many travellers but hopeless for those with mobility issues.

  • Hi Zettiness, I think John Smith is being very polite to you.
    Southeastern trains are usually very dirty and worn. Also the carriages are in need of replacement; something which Southeastern readily admits to: “Southeastern says that it is procuring new trains to replace a significant proportion of its ageing fleet and therefore avoid “escalating maintenance, repair and leasing costs.” railjournal .com/fleet/southeastern-tenders-new-rolling-stock-fleet/


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