It looks like few improvements for Southeastern Metro passengers are on the way a year after cuts and poorly-spaced service intervals were introduced.
In particular, uneven service spacing and the longest peak time service gaps on the Woolwich line for decades remain ensuring poor connections with the Elizabeth line for passengers.
Last December Southeastern reduced services by a further two trains per hour through Greenwich, Charlton and Abbey Wood after cuts were demanded by the Department for Transport at the behest of the Treasury.
That could have been justified if remaining services split between Thameslink and Southeastern were evenly spaced – but they weren’t after those 2022 reductions. Two trains would be timetabled close together followed by a lengthy wait.
Then the May 2023 timetable failed to improve matters, and now a full year on and the December 2023 again doesn’t rectify the issue.
As such those arriving at Abbey Wood on the Elizabeth line hoping to connect to Kent-bound Southeastern services still face gaps the like of which havn’t been seen for many decades.
It’s bafflingly short sited to introduce such reductions almost as soon as the new £18 bn line opened alongside thereby hampering journey potential and connections for those coming or going to Kent.
Heading to Kent after alighting from the Elizabeth line at Abbey Wood sees two trains within three minutes then a 27 minute gap.
After a year this still hasn’t been improved.
What’s happening on Southeastern Metro under the Department for Transport is a quest for cuts apparently no matter what. In contrast TfL restored service frequency on routes and lines such as the DLR since 2021 – and have seen strong recovery.
Services like the DLR are doing very well even with the Elizabeth line running. SE Metro too has routes that the new line doesn’t service (eg quick links to London Bridge) as well as acting as a feeder to Crossrail – yet the timetable squanders it.
Southeastern under the DfT have also seen employee reductions with many stations now left unstaffed all day plus service cuts and in turn a very poor recovery. Open goals such as good connections from Kent to Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth line just aren’t taken. They’re actively made worse.
Further up the line it’s a similar story. Deptford has new housing developments completing yet cuts meant services gaps through Deptford and Greenwich increased and in the new timetable are still over 20 minutes.
A well-planned and funded network would look to have frequent services to capture some of the large number of new residents (in car-free homes) as potential customers. Yet not on a network which the DfT cannot apparently envisage trying to grow.
As such it’ll be no surprise that when London Overground, DLR and the tube all reach pre-pandemic numbers Southeastern is floundering.
So where are people going instead? Well, see the cars around Abbey Wood station and congestion elsewhere. Ever more traffic. Perhaps that’s what the DfT want.