Southeastern timetable changes could lose people their jobs

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

South London locals said they will “quit their jobs” and not go into central London any more after a rail network’s controversial timetable change, with MPs saying the reasoning for the changes is “complete nonsense”.

On December 11, Southeastern Railway will be reducing the number of trains going to Waterloo and Charing Cross on the Bexleyheath and Woolwich lines during off-peak times.

According to Southeastern, the changes were made to reduce “congestion at busy junctions”, such as Lewisham, and ensure “better punctuality and fewer cancellations overall”.

Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham, said at a debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday that it was “shameful” for the Government to agree to the service cuts.

The Labour MP said that he had asked rail experts about the busy Lewisham junction during a previous issue regarding Southeastern trains terminating at Victoria and they had told him it was “complete nonsense” unless there was “bad maintenance and lack of investment in the infrastructure”.

On Mr Efford’s point about rail experts, a Southeastern spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I would reiterate why we’re making these changes – and I would challenge the expert view that [Mr Efford is] quoting, we’re not aware of rail experts who have challenged our assumptions and thinking.”

The spokesperson said: “We have simplified our railway by reducing the number of routes that trains operate over to contain any delays to a single line and not spread delays to multiple lines thereby impacting the journey of many more customers.”

Under the new timetable, Southeastern are encouraging passengers to change trains at London Bridge if they wish to continue to Charing Cross.

Abena Oppong-Asare, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, said that direct services to Waterloo are “essential” for old and disabled people in her area.

She said a mum in her constituency had contacted her saying she was “incredibly distressed” by the changes.

Ms Oppong-Asare said: “She said the changes mean she will no longer be able to drop her children off at school and be able to get to work by 9am, and that she may lose her job as a result.”

Pictured top: A Southeastern Rail train shown at Victoria station in London (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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