Louie French MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup met with Southeastern's Managing Director and his team again with cross-party/other South East London MPs to discuss the Southeastern timetable changes further and to continue to make representations against the changes on the Sidcup and Bexleyheath lines.
Louie reiterated his continued concern and frustration over the timetable changes on local Southeastern services including the loss of the circular service on the Sidcup line, the ending of off-peak services to Charing Cross on the Bexleyheath line and the reduction of services serving Albany Park and the significant impact these changes will have on his constituents.
At the meeting, Louie expressed the impact of the loss of the loop line on the Sidcup line again, which is used by many constituents, including for the Elizabeth line and to travel to Charlton Athletic fixtures, which has been reflected in the results of Louie’s survey. Louie asked for serious reconsideration to be given to the reinstatement of this service, including as a minimum for high demand times such as for fans to travel to and from Charlton Athletic fixtures. In response, Southeastern provided a commitment to look into specific plans for a partial reinstatement of the loop line, as well as escalating the points Louie raised about Charlton Athletic fixtures to the team that plans train services for special and sporting events.
Louie also expressed his concern over the data used to inform the timetable changes, including passenger numbers at Albany Park Station and the time period used to collect the data. Louie queried the validity of the data relating to Albany Park Station passenger numbers from a recent visit to the Station where he noted the high number of passengers that use the station which may not appropriately be reflected in the data, particularly for customers with ‘paper tickets’ who do not tap in and out of the station. Secondly, Louie enquired about the time period that the data on passenger numbers was collected, with particular concern being expressed if the data was from the pandemic. In response, Southeastern stated that they used train loading data which predicts the number of passengers on-board by analysing weight. Southeastern also said that they measure this every day and will continue to look at live data, including for Albany Park Station and the loop line (particularly following the extension of the Elizabeth line in October) as Louie requested.
Southeastern continue to argue that they have never consulted on their semi-annual timetable changes, including the previous 16 timetable changes, and they believe these changes to be largely demand based changes linked to lower passenger numbers, which Louie fundamentally disagrees with.
Further to Louie’s first meeting with Southeastern where he urged the need for an Equality Impact Assessment to be undertaken on the changes, Southeastern stated that the Equality Impact Assessment will be published in the next week and covers all protected characteristics which Louie will continue to monitor closely.
Commenting after the meeting, Louie said:
“I continue to fight against these changes, alongside pushing Southeastern on the reasoning and evidence used for the changes to ensure that their timetable changes on our local services in Sidcup and Bexley are not based on unfair reasoning or inaccurate data.”
“I will continue to push for changes to be made to the reduction in services for Albany Park Station, whether that be by increasing the overall number of services on the Sidcup line or by more services on the new timetable being required to stop at Albany Park Station rather than missing this station. This is alongside my calls to reinstate the loop line on the Sidcup line, particularly for high demand times, and off-peak Charing Cross services on the Bexleyheath line.”
“Looking further into the future, it is clear that continued pressure needs to be applied to ensure that the next timetable in May delivers upon the needs of Bexley passengers, especially as more local residents return to working in central London. That is why I am encouraging all local train users to complete my survey so that I can represent all views and lobby on the main changes residents want Southeastern to reverse.”