Final Southeastern rush hour with Charing Cross trains on Woolwich line underway

The very last rush hour to see trains from Charing Cross along the Woolwich line is now underway, with all trains on the line set to only serve Cannon Street from Monday.

After much controversy a new timetable is set to begin this coming Monday 12th December.

The current Charing Cross to Dartford trains via Lewisham run every 30 minutes in the peak period slotting between those from Cannon Street and Thameslink. Southeastern state a desire to reduce cross-overs in Lewisham lay behind the change.

Cannon Street

Another change from Monday is the reduction of peak hour trains on the lines leaving sizable service gaps, including 21 minutes through Greenwich and 24 minutes at stations such as Erith further towards Kent, which Thameslink do not serve.

Removing those services is a separate issue as they already ran from Cannon Street.

Removed trains are the 16:43, 17:34, 18:04, 18:34 and 19:04 from Cannon Street leaving certain stations on the Greenwich and Woolwich line to lack a turn up and go service pattern.

Greenwich station with hotel beside. Tourist traffic could suffer

Not great for areas such as Greenwich that have a major university nearby, major centres of employment and tourist custom alongside a rising local population.

Southeastern state a reduction in peak time passenger numbers lay behind service cuts, though other forms of urban transport such as the tube and DLR are showing far better levels of passenger growth.

DLR at Greenwich station. Longer to reach the City, and doesn’t head to the West End

That leaves the question of why Southeastern Metro failing to match growth in other forms of transport in London, and do these changes ensure a spiral of decline?

The Elizabeth line should explain reductions in passenger numbers in the Woolwich line, but for most passengers past Woolwich it’s less convenient. It’s also debateable whether that justifies such long service peak time service gaps regardless.

Southeastern also claim other Metro lines are struggling to regain custom despite serving areas of major growth such as Kidbrooke and Lewisham.

Does a generally neglected Metro network, minimal staffing and poor quality trains help explain it?

Bubbling floors, broken intercoms and general poor upkeep all evident

The 24 minute service gap to stations such as Erith from Monday also ensures those who depart the Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood could face a lengthy wait for connecting trains.

These changes are hardly entice people to use or return to rail. Increase service gaps and yet more people turn away, leading to calls from the Treasury, Department for Transport and Southeastern for further cuts down the line.

Other major changes include the rounder services from the Sidcup line being change to the Bexleyheath line, severing connection to Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth line for some.

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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.

10 thoughts on “Final Southeastern rush hour with Charing Cross trains on Woolwich line underway

  • Worse timetable ever.

    Literally no one wants Cannon Street and Thameslink is useless most of the time, Charing Cross trains were literally the most reliable service on the line.

    Too much fuss is being made of Lewisham Junction to the point where it’s an excuse for SE to make these pointless changes, in the last five years I’ve been delayed only a few times on Lewisham Junction and we always made the time up due to the fact that CX trains were semi fast from Lewisham to London Bridge.

    Shame on the DfT and Steve White who can’t be bothered running a railway he’s an utter joke.

    Reply
    • To be fair to him he has been will to talk and attend meetings far more than most in charge.

      Ultimately he’s doing what the DfT insist. TfL wanted to do the same, albeit with the compensation of benefits elsewhere now absent.

      Reply
  • Absolutely absurd not to have trains serving Charing Cross on the Woolwich Line. Not everyone is able to or feel safe using the Underground Jubilee Line services at North Greenwich or the Elizabeth Line Service from Woolwich and Abbey Wood. With thousands of new homes being built in on new developments along the Woolwich Line we need all the public transport services we can get as new residents move to the area and the local population continues to grow.

    Reply
  • I find it totally bizarre – and even more bizarre when it’s ran effectively by the government – it’s hardly an advert for ‘re-nationalising’ that I see banded around a lot. This is on top of SE Trains hiked fares pay as you go oyster/contactless compared to TfL and the fact they have many unstaffed stations they manage, dirty trains constantly, toilets they can’t guarantee when are open in stations despite removing from their new fleet and blame everyone but themselves. Whilst I agree Thameslink Service could be improved reliability-wise the difference in the quality of the trains is amazing. If I have to pay more and use National Rail to Central London I purposely now go to Westcombe Park by bus and take Thameslink – several stops across central London. It also saves the xtra bus time to N Greenwich which is liike filtering everyone in a funnel I think.

    Reply
  • I find it slightly irksome that the Charing Cross trains are going because it reduces choice, but it isn’t the biggest deal. Charing Cross will still be reachable from the Woolwich line by a simple change at London Bridge.

    I always found it a nightmare using the Woolwich line to get home to Abbey Wood from central London. Trying to judge whether the fastest way home would be from Charing Cross, Waterloo, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, Cannon St or London Bridge (and which platform) was the stuff of fortune tellers. Making the wrong call and having to wait 20-30 minutes for the next train was a real pain.

    Simplifying the lines makes sense to me. Want to go to Deptford-Slade Green? Regular trains from Cannon St and London Bridge platform 1. Want to go from to the west end? Regular train to London Bridge and change for Charing Cross, or take the Jubilee line (if near Charlton) or Elizabeth line (if near Woolwich or passing through Abbey Wood)

    Not the worst change in the world. Mildly inconvenient for those who have to change trains, but Londoners do this all the time

    I can’t understand the huge gaps in the timetable though. Getting on a train at Deptford in the morning was always a struggle – after a 21-24 minute gap it will be impossible.

    Reply
  • I do find the Thameslink route useful and is always a good back-up when Southeastern is disrupted. I even encountered ticket enforcement officers on the TL trains, which was good to see!

    There is a death spiral that Southeastern has found itself in whereby it’s allowing its fare box to collapse because of poor/non-existent ticket enforcement on the branch stations, so resulting it saying it’s not economic to maintain as many train services. Rather than strengthen ticket enforcement, it seems to have just given up and cut the service to the bare minimum it can get away.

    The Networkers do need to be got rid of, not just because of the interiors but because they have a habit of breaking down (dodgy doors and brakes).

    Reply
  • I fear you are overlooking the small point that the nationalised BR ran a railway for passengers on a shoestring. The Operator of Last Resort (who run SE for the DfT) are supposed to cost as little as possible and get a line ready for reprivatisation. The government is not interested in having a decent public sector comparitor for railways as it would make many franchises look bad. TfL wanted to take these lines as part of the London Overground with a turn up and go frequent service with fully staffed stations but the Government won’t allow it. They wanted to cut direct trains as well but we’re offering a more frequent service, refurbished trains and turn up and go frequency in compensation. DfT offers rubbish service, high fares and further cuts so they can continue subsiding the parties mates at stagecoach and worst group.

    Reply
  • It’s not true. I do want Cannon Street at the weekends because it gets me to my furmeet in Minister Court. Granted, that’s not a super-common goal but there are plenty of other people walking around that part of the city – it’s just not the busiest.

    Reply
  • Mark it is for normal able bodied people I agree but there are elderly and disabled people that find it very difficult travelling by train and assistance at Stations is not always available at stations to help them change trains. To be honest like we had with the bus cuts and changes there is no real reasons for the cuts to services and services cut for cut sake adding to journey times . I used the Charing Cross trains regularly as cannot use the underground.

    Reply
  • You’re probably in the minority of travellers who actually want Cannon Street

    Reply

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