Lewisham station may see alterations including ticket gates moved according to Southeastern.
Answers given to a Lewisham Council committee set to meet this week see the Department for Transport-owned company state:
We are working with the DLR to move the gate line on Platform 1 into the concourse area next to the main entrance to improve passenger flow and reduce crowding around the current gates on Platform 1
This comes as station is in the midst of large-scale developments on all sides.
One recent tower included provision for a new station entrance built as part of a major development beside Platform 1 but has not opened. The wording of Southeastern’s statement suggest it will continue to go un-utilised.
On the other side of the station, an entrance to platform 4 was closed in the 2010s and never reopened.
In response in a document before next week’s meeting, it’s claimed that private land at the base of the ramp prevents ticket gates and there’s no consideration mentioned of any at the top.
Now that same area has Lewisham’s tallest tower almost complete alongside smaller-scale blocks.
A short distance away hundreds more homes have been built with hundreds more now under construction as two estates have been redeveloped.
Compounding that it was recently announced that the Tesco supermarket will be rebuilt as a mixed-use development.
Southeastern and Network Rail state some smaller-scale tinkering may occur but will not be opening these entrances and exits – or building a new one beside platform 4 and new housing.
We are submitting a bid under the forthcoming National Rail Recovery Fund to relocate staff offices and accommodation to create new space for enhanced passenger facilities, including new toilets, climate-controlled waiting rooms, and retail facilities whilst improving passenger flows in and around Platforms 2 and 3 and the subway leading to Platforms 1 and 4.
Substantial change would mention a new bridge or opening a new entrance. None of that is here. Toilets? Waiting rooms with climate control? Nice, but not the biggest issues by some way.
Changes require Network Rail to fund and Southeastern to staff. With government cuts to rail, serving major areas of housing, employment and leisure growth is proving difficult.
The station’s cramped subway is hardly going to be expanded given how expensive and disruptive that would be.
More shops are hardly important. Lewisham Gateway is opening next to the station this autumn and includes a new Sainsbury’s.
It also sees a new cinema that could have widespread appeal for people who may arrive by train.
Passenger numbers across the country were released last week covering January to March 2023 which saw Southeastern floundering with worse recovery than most other Train Operating Companies and sitting second bottom in the UK.
They’re also languishing far behind TfL modes of rail such as London Overground (88 per cent versus 62 per cent for SE compared to 2019 passengers numbers), DLR (now at 92 per cent) and the tube (between 80-90 per cent) despite Elizabeth line services now in operation.
Unfortunately it doesn’t break down data by SE Metro serving areas of major growth and long distance routes to Kent.
Enforced cuts to services from government, barely (or unstaffed) stations and failing to cater towards new residents at major new developments across the network all appear to be hampering recovery. SE Metro though also has no staff on trains in addition to many stations.
Each day dozens of station lack staffing which was listed on their website until last week.
As predicted, Southeastern have now stopped listing staff shortages on their website thus passengers will now not know in advance if ticket offices or staffing is available.
In recent weeks, to give a comparable to other areas, one of the country’s newest stations opened in Reading. It only sees three-carriage trains every 30 minutes but is staffed with ticket gates.
In Southeastern-land, places like Kidbrooke is one of London’s major areas of housing growth – though Southeastern don’t seem to realise. Or rather the DfT won’t allow them to hire staff for the station.
Over 5,000 homes being built around the station yet it’s frequently unstaffed with ticket gates removed from the plan post-approval.
It’s also telling that a number of questions about Lewisham and other stations put before Southeastern and Network Rail go unanswered at the Lewisham Council meeting to be held this week.
In particular is an extract (question 6) and then the lack of an answer:
Two costly feasibility studies have been undertaken (in 2017 and 2022) on user trends and options for a major upgrade of Lewisham station, but neither has been made public or acted on
To which there is no response.