Our relaunch meeting: Charlton residents grill transport representatives

On 12 October, Charlton residents – including regular commuters, local campaigners and a bus driver – gathered in Charlton Church Lane’s Liberal Club for the public relaunch meeting of Transport for Charlton.

We were joined by Southeastern’s Train Services Director, Richard Dean, together with colleagues Mike Gibson and Sonia Maulson; Transport for London’s (TfL) Corporate Communications Manager, Vicky Kafetzi; Campaign for Better Transport’s Bridget Fox and Andrew Bosi; as well as friends from Greenwich Line Users’ Group. Chairing the meeting was Gary Parker, Charlton ward councillor.

What happened?

  • Bridget Fox and Andrew Bosi of Campaign for Better Transport – respectively Sustainable Transport Campaigner and Chair of the London Branch – gave an overview of the history, aims and activities of the campaign.
  • Richard Dean, Train Services Director of Southeastern, gave a detailed report into Southeastern’s year – prompting some strong audience reaction about train capacity and disruption.
  • Vicky Kafetzi, TfL’s Corporate Communications Manager, outlined TfL’s plans for rail devolution – supported by a then hot-off-the-press map of what a future extended network could look like.
  • Unfortunately, at short notice Network Rail’s representative told us they couldn’t make it. In their absence, Transport for Charlton’s John Tidy showed some insider pictures of the London Bridge redevelopment.
  • A q&a session gave rise to some strong views, great discussion and ideas (see below).
  • Conversation continued on Twitter over the course of the evening, with many more Charlton residents getting involved and giving their views. You can catch up at @TfCharlton and #CharltonTransport.

What matters to Charlton?

We’ve grouped the conversations we had – on and offline – into a number of main themes:

Information, integration and harmonisation

  • Improvements are needed to alternative routes to London termini during the London Bridge station and Thameslink works – including free use of the Waterloo and City Line between Bank and Waterloo for Oyster PAYG and Southeastern-only ticketholders.
  • We want an end to what we’re calling the South East London Penalty Fare – TfC’s name for the additional costs we run up due to being charged for separate journeys (rail and then underground) into central London.We need more information screens at stations, especially on platforms, showing the full status of Southeastern services.
  • Likewise, staff need to be fully informed about disruptions and alternations.
  • We need improvements to the accuracy of service information at bus stops, including North Greenwich.

Performance and overcrowding

  • There’s currently a gap of 25 mins from Cannon Street to Charton in the evenings. This isn’t good enough and is causing serious overcrowding on platform and trains.  Recently a woman collapsed and almost fell onto the tracks due to the pressure of people. According to Southeastern’s website, the 1815 is now an 8-car service. If you use these services, is this regularly happening? Let us know!
  • There’s serious overcrowding during the morning peak so that trains are full before arriving at Charlton and people can’t get on at subsequent stations.
  • There’s serious overcrowding at London Bridge in evening peak.
  • There should be a timetable review, taking into account commuters’ views about how new Southeastern arrangements are going.
  • Bus services are erratic at North Greenwich in peak times. This leads to chaos at bus stop B, as absent buses all turn up at once dozens of people crush each other trying to get on.
  • As a result of this overcrowding, non-work users (eg shoppers at retail parks/supermarkets) can’t fit on to buses in peak hours.
  • The current morning-only 472 bus diversion to Charlton Station isn’t enough – other modes of transport need to be able to take the strain when train services fail.
  • Local transport services could be put under further serious stress from new housing developments.

Station and environment

  • A new coffee stall is due at Charlton soon.
  • Current shelters are inadequate.

Roads and routes

  • Current parking arrangements on Charlton Church Lane are causing serous bus blockages.

What’s next?

During and after the meeting, we received a lot of interest from people who wanted to get involved in Transport for Charlton – from contributing ideas to helping run the campaign. If you’re interested, please get in touch.

We’ll be following up with the transport representatives who attended – making sure we get answers to some of the questions people raised.

And we’ll be arranging a further meeting with other representatives in the coming weeks – as well as thinking about topics for future events. For example, some people said that they’d like to hear from Greenwich Council, and to talk about cycling and other sustainable transport.

In the meantime, please keep the conversation going – we’d love to hear from you. Find us @TfCharlton#CharltonTransport, and www.facebook.com/TransportforCharlton.  You can also get in touch through the form on this website or at transport.for.charlton@outlook.com

 

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