Recent months have seen an enormous amount of controversy over revised and cut rail services in south east London making headlines – but another issue rearing its head again today shows just how bad things are under direct government control.
Checking the service disruption page for the latest signal failure around Lewisham, it shows again that dozens of stations have closed ticket offices which is happening on a daily basis – with Southeastern already seeing some of the lowest staffing levels in the capital.
Today the company is unable to open ticket offices at numerous busy urban stations such as Bexleyheath, Blackheath, Brixton, Bromley North and many others. That was just those beginning with B.
A ticket office closure on Metro routes doesn’t mean other staff will be around as on the tube when all ticket offices closed.
It often means there’s no one around at all to help passengers, monitor anti-social behaviour or collect revenue and staff barriers. The metro route of course lacks any on-board staff aside from the driver. No guards.
Many stations never saw increases in staffing over the past decade despite growth in housing in the vicinity as the DfT called the shots and gave numerous short-term extensions to GoVia long before pandemic related issues.
Since they’ve taken over things have declined further.
Other stations seeing staff shortages today are Catford Bridge. Many new homes around that built in recent years. Kidbrooke ticket office is closed again. It often is. It’s been badly staffed for years. Ever more towers now surround the site but staff levels remains lacking.
These photos show the scale of change around the station on all sides (click to enlarge):
It’s a stunning rate of change. There’s many other blocks within five minutes walk.
As I often point out, Southeastern staff are generally great but there’s not enough across the network. If they’re having to close this many ticket offices daily – let alone have staff to do other duties – something is badly wrong.
All over network
The list goes on. New Cross ticket office is closed all day today. Yep, that sleepy Zone 2 station. Outside of London the same is true at Rochester. A major tourist town and another place with thousands of new homes.
Welling is shut today too. These aren’t rural halts. The list across the Southeastern network is in the dozens and in London many busy stations are part of the closure list.
In recent years we’ve even seen new station entrances built on the Metro network but not opened (Lewisham) alongside late revisions to station design due to low staffing levels in an area seeing thousands of homes built (Kidbrooke).
The Department for Transport and Treasury seem to be presiding over a network that is on its knees in a manic rush for short-term cuts and to hell with long term impact. TfL have financial issues and staff levels have been cut with more stations seeing few staff which is a slippery slope to reduced revenue – but they remain head and shoulders above Southeastern.