Anyone using Eltham stations or others on the Bexleyheath line simply must make sure that they respond to the latest Department for Transport consultation on the future arrangements for the South Eastern rail network after the expiry of the current (SouthEastern Trains) franchise in December 2018.
You can find the actual consultation page here and to be honest the actual document (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/600437/south-eastern-franchise-consultation.pdf) is a little bit hard going but one of the key sections is about the number of terminals that trains will go to.
I think this document should be looked at simulataenously with the Network Rail document published earlier in March entitled “South East Route: Kent Area Route Study” (https://www.networkrail.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Kent-Route-Study-Draft-for-Consultation.pdf) which purports to deal with a 47% rise in passenger numbers forecast by 2044.
I would urge anyone with an interest to respond to the consultation(s) but in particular the section on page 23 of the DfT one which deals with the issue of reducing the number of London terminals which trains might go to. The example given is “all Metro services on the north Kent (between Dartford and Charlton), Greenwich and Bexleyheath lines to terminate at Cannon Street only.” In my opinion one of the huge advantages of Eltham Station is the range of London destinations it serves so I would like to strongly oppose this aspect of the consultation (I know it isn’t a proposal, but it is certainly a possibility).
Although this is still early days, I have asked a written question for the next full Council meeting (on Wednesday) and contacted Council Officers who provided me with the following reply:
“Dear Cllr Drury,
Thank you for your email.
This is a DfT consultation on the future arrangements for the South Eastern rail network after the expiry of the current (SouthEastern Trains) franchise in December 2018.
It is an open public consultation that opened last week and closes on 23rd May 2017. The Council was alerted to the fact that the DfT were going to undertake a consultation exercise a short while ago.
The consultation document is high level and seeks views on a number of principles rather than on specific service changes. It is seeking to capture the views of stakeholders and users on priorities so that those priorities can inform the specification which will be used when tenders are sought for the franchise beyond 2018.
It suggest that one option to improve timetabling would be “to reduce the number of central London stations from certain locations at particular times” and does say that an example might be for “services on the north Kent lines to terminate at Cannon Street only”. Clearly if that came to pass it could have a significant impact on Royal Borough residents – although the suggestion is that such a change would free the way for other improvements (such as increased punctuality and/or frequencies).
Although where services might terminate is clearly part of the DfT’s thinking (otherwise it wouldn’t be within the document) there are no specific proposals and so it would be premature to speculate on what any overall impact might be.
The Council will be responding to the consultation in due course. That response will need to reflect the views of members and residents. We are currently considering how best to capture those views.”
I’ll make sure I keep updating this blog and will see if we can organise a meeting about this – there are consultation meetings around the area but I can’t see any in Greenwich. I will try to address this.