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Save our Victoria Services

The page below is the archive up to December 2012 for the SRUG Save our Victoria services Campaign.

South Eastern Franchise Consultation

This concluded in September  2012. Details here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-29

Below was our comment on the issues. The Government will be reporting on the next steps in this process after the current review of the whole franchise process, which was begun in October 2012 as a result of the probems with the West Coast franchise.

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The South Eastern franchise covers our existing Dartford to Victoria service, and potentially the new Bromley / Bellingham to Victoria service.  This is a key opportunity to get across the crucial importance of getting our full service to Victoria back again ie 4tph, 7 days a week (off peak, and more in peak hours) by extending the hours of the Dartford to Victoria service and the introduction of the new Bromley / Bellingham service.

For us this franchise consultation has converged with the Thameslink one as together they cover ALL our services and rail issues. So we have now produced a short summary of the issues and what users could say in response to the two consultations together. See here. That can be enough for users to compile their own comments to email in to the Government, if they have no time to read the documents. Meanwhile we are working on our detailed comments to the South Eastern Franchise consultation, and will post them here when ready. If you want to see them in draft, email SRUG@southwarkrailusers.net.  

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Introduction to Save our Victoria services Campaign page

The ending of the South London Line (SLL) in December 2012 will leave big gaps in services to Victoria. Possibilities to fill some of these gaps have been identified by TfL & LTW (option 7 in this report). These changes involve timetable adjustments and extension of existing train services from Kent. The decision to enable these to happen is with the Department for Transport, and the London Mayor jointly. They need to know how important this is to South London to strengthen the case for action. The campaign to save our Victoria Services asked local rail users to email the Transport Minister and the Mayor for London to get this message across.

This page

The Minister replies 10 January 2012
An email was received from the Department for Transport by SRUG on 10 January 2012 saying:
“Last autumn, Southwark Rail Users Group ran a leaflet campaign entitled ‘Save our Victoria Services’ in which you asked people to send their views to the Minister of State, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP. Several dozen emails were sent to the Minister of State as a result. Rather than sending individual replies to all these emails the Minister of State has asked me to send you a statement on the subject that you could display on your website.”  See the statement in full here
download a copy here

In brief, the statement says that the feasibility and desirability of additional stops in peak times are under consideration, but that both Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill will retain a service of two or more trains per hour both to Victoria and Blackfriars/Thameslink network, and that the Government is committed to its localism agenda and will not therefore intervene in decisions of the London Mayor.

 
SRUG letter to the Minister 25 January 2012
SRUG replied thanking the Minister and the Department for this acknowledgment of local concern and the consideration of additional peak stops. However the reply points out that from December 2012 there will not be a regular two trains per hour to Victoria in the evenings and weekends, and that these gaps are the result of the national decision to rebuild London Bridge station which will cut the South London Line trains to Victoria, as well as the Mayor’s decision to complete the East London Line. In view of the fact that it isn't a case of interfering in a local decision, the letter asks the Minister to reconsider the role of the Department and Network Rail so they can join together with the London Mayor and TfL to provide an interim joint solution, until the new franchise can remedy the gaps. See the letter in full here.    download a copy here
 
What do we need the Minister to do?
To enable the Department for Transport and Network Rail to work with the London Mayor and TfL to  find a joint short term solution to fill some of the gaps in the services to Victoria, until the new Southeastern rail franchise in the next two years. Options so far identified have included a new Bromley–Victoria service, an extension of the existing Dartford–Victoria service, introducing peak hour stops in some Kent trains. The new franchise from 2014 needs to provide a full 7 days a week regular 4tph every 15 minutes service to Victoria from Nunhead, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, and when the trains can stop there from Clapham High St & Wandsworth Rd .
 

Actions you can take

  • email decision makers, elected representatives & local press. See email addresses to write to
  • join the SRUG mailing list to be kept up to date, email: SRUG@southwarkrailusers.net
  • check the SRUG website for news: http://www.southwarkrailusers.net
  • distribute flyers – Click here for an A6 pocket size flyer for you to print out about the campaign. Please carry some with you in your pocket or bag, and give out to fellow rail users at your local station on the Victoria services platform(s) whenever you travel. Where better to find people interested in this, than on that platform in your own local station?

 Campaign News

  •  September 2011: The campaign is launched asking rail users to email the Transport Minister, the Mayor of London and their elected representatives to press for the gaps in the Victoria services from 2012 to be filled.
  • January 2012: The Department for Transport emailed a statement to SRUG from the Minister in response to the campaign. SRUG replied asking for an interim short term solution to cover the period from Dec 2012 to the new Southeastern rail franchise in 2014.
  • August 2012: SRUG advises local rail users to email the Government in response to the consultation on the new South Eastern franchise, and to give views on the services we need from all our stations, including the improvements needed for services to and from Victoria. see  http://www.bellenden.net/srug/news/rail-franchises-deadline-13-sep-victoria-well-now

 Background Notes

 Loss of SLL will cause gaps in services to Victoria
For over 144 years, since 1st May 1867, there has been a direct service between London Bridge and Victoria via Peckham Rye. Currently the service runs every 30 minutes (2trains per hour - tph) all day and evening, 7 days a week. That will end in December 2012 when the new East London Line extension (ELL) comes into operation with 4 tph between Clapham Junction and Canada Water. That will provide new journey opportunities, but reduce the direct services to London Bridge and Victoria. While there will continue to be a 7 day a week service to London Bridge via Peckham Rye, Queens Rd and Sth Bermondsey, albeit reduced from 6 to 4 tph with irregular timing, the remaining services to Victoria would have big gaps. The regular service via Peckham Rye & Denmark Hill will be reduced to 2 tph and limited to during the day, with no services in the evenings or Sundays. The SRUG maps here show the differences in the routes while the SLL operates up to December 2012, and after that in 2013 when it ceases and the ELL is operating instead.

How to fill the gaps
A report in June 2010 from TfL and LTW recommended (option 7) that some of these gaps should be filled temporarily from December 2012 by:

  • temporary option 7
    • a new 2tph service from Bromley/Bellingham to Victoria via Crofton Park, Nunhead, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High St, Wandsworth Rd outside peak hours; this would cost an extra £1.2m a year to be paid by the Government to the train company franchise holder. Plus:
    • 2 fast tph from Kent stopping at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill in peak hours, to fill the gap at those two stations in the new service in peak hours. This would be minimal cost but would add an extra 5 minutes or so to the journeys of the 2 fast trains in peak hours.
  • permanent option
    • These temporary arrangements would be replaced eventually by a new full 7 days a week regular 2tph service, in peak hours and off peak between Bromley to Victoria, to be included in the renewed franchise for the contract currently with South East Rail and due for renewal in 2014. This would be part of the franchise contract that train companies would compete for. The new service would probably not be in operation until the new Thameslink timetable to be in place after [?2016].

A further possibility not considered by the TfL/LTW report is:

  •  variation on temporary option 7
    • To extend the existing service from Dartford to Victoria to a 7 day a week full service of 2 tph early morning, full day and late evening times. This would not cost as much as the new Bromley – Victoria service, and would not need the Kent peak hours to stop. It would not however fill any gaps in the services at Clapham High St or Wandsworth Rd. The platforms at these stations would have to be lengthened to enable the longer Dartford trains to stop there. This is desirable but will take time to get to the top of the rail industry’s priority list.

None of these new arrangements would perfectly fill the gaps caused by the loss of the SLL. But they would reduce the damage done to the services by the cut of the SLL.
 
What is stopping this?
TfL fully support the aims to fill as many of these gaps as can be before a more permanent full 7 day a week service with early morning and late evening start and stop times can be introduced in a new train franchise for the Kent – Victoria services. They have asked the Transport Minister to take the necessary decisions to introduce temporary stops into to 2tph [in peak times] trains from Kent. This will be minimal expenditure costs, though increasing by 5 minutes or so the journey times for Kent commuters.
 
Extending the Dartford – Victoria service to 7 days a week including evenings is something the Minister needs to consider too. 
 
What do we need the Minister to do?
To commit to fill some of the gaps in the services to Victoria, by choosing from a new Bromley–Victoria service, an extension of the existing Dartford–Victoria service, and/or introducing peak hour stops in some Kent trains. Thereafter to move towards a full 7 days a week regular and frequent service to Victoria from Nunhead, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High St and Wandsworth Rd. 

Regular frequent services to Victoria
Victoria services are part of an interconnected rail system in South East London. SRUG’s overall campaign is for integrated planning and management of that system from the perspective of local users. See here for more information. The key point is that irregularity and infrequency degrade significantly the role and use of the rail services. It is therefore essential to plan now to fill the gaps that will be left by the removal of the 144 year old direct service between Victoria and London Bridge via Peckham Rye. The eventual aim is to have a regular and frequent Tube-like service into Victoria from Nunhead, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High St and Wandsworth Road of 4tph every 15 minutes 7 days and evenings a week.

 

Email addresses to write to

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Statement from the Minister of State 10 January 2012

download a copy here

The Mayor of London has exercised his right to specify the train service pattern that should operate on the South London Line (SLL) from December 2012 and has chosen to use the capacity available for local services to route four East London Line (ELL) trains per hour through Peckham Rye to Clapham Junction.
 
The Coalition Government is firmly committed to its localism agenda and does not intend to intervene in decisions, either in transport or in other matters, which are properly the domain of local authorities. There is no question, therefore, of central Government Ministers challenging the Mayor’s specification.
 
However, both Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill will still retain a service of two or more trains per hour both to Victoria and to Blackfriars and the Thameslink network. Peckham Rye will still have four trains an hour to London Bridge; these are all in addition to the new service of four trains an hour both to the City via the ELL and to Clapham Junction.  
 
It is not possible for the Southeastern train operator to run any more peak trains on the Peckham Rye route, nor to offer any radical re-timing of their services, because their trains approach Peckham Rye either from Lewisham or from Catford on routes that are completely full, and tightly-timetabled, at peak times. It may be possible to add some stops to services which currently run through Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill without stopping. The feasibility and desirability of these additional stops are under consideration.
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Text of letter from SRUG to Minister 25th January 2012

download a copy here

Dear Minister
 
Your Department has written to us in response to the many emails you received from local rail users about the impending deterioration in our local rail services in and out of Victoria. Thank you and the Department for acknowledging local concern on these points. We are very pleased to hear that consideration is being given to additional peak hour stops. We will as requested post the Department’s statement on the website.
 
THE GAPS IN VICTORIA SERVICES
But may we clarify the Department's statement that there will continue to be ‘a service of two or more trains per hour both to Victoria and to Blackfriars’? This is in fact the crux of the problem which will result from the cessation of the South London Line (SLL) without any mitigation services: in the evenings and at weekends there will be no regular service to Victoria, and there will be gaps between trains, and in some hours there will be no trains at all, (and the trains to Blackfriars end early at 9pm, and do not run at weekends.)
 
These Victoria gaps arise from an unintended outcome of decisions taken at both London level - to introduce the desirable but different rail service in the East London Line, and also at national level by Network Rail and the Dept for Transport - to rebuild the important national railway station at London Bridge.
 
We understand fully the Government's commitment to its localism agenda and therefore its decision not to intervene in the Mayor of London's decision to ensure the completion of the East London Line. Indeed we support decisions on the future of London's transport being taken by London's own authorities, to enable London to develop the integrated transport approach it needs. We appreciate and welcome the increased journey opportunities that the new East London Line (ELL) extension will offer to south London.
 
THE NEED FOR FULL SERVICES WITH NO GAPS
Train services need to be regular to encourage confident and consistent use. This is especially important for services to Victoria (and Blackfriars) from Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye. Many workers, patients and visitors to the two major hospitals - Kings and SLAM - through Denmark Hill station rely on these rail services throughout the day and in the evenings and weekends. So too do the increasing numbers of visitors from across London to the growing creative and leisure industries in Peckham. Here a partnership between local community and borough council, recently supported by the London Mayor, is restoring the historic Peckham Rye rail station to realise its potential as a major gateway to the town centre. It would be so inappropriate at just this moment to make the rail service to and from central London so irregular.
 
INTERIM SOLUTION
We are aware that the franchise for the trains serving our stations, currently held by SouthEastern Rail, is due for renewal in the next few years. We have been assuming that the gaps in the services will then be corrected by the introduction of revised train services providing the full regular minimum 2, but preferably 4, trains per hour for 7 days a week to Victoria (and Blackfriars) in the new franchises.
 
We therefore see this as a transitional temporary issue. Because of this, and because there are both national and regional London origins for the predicament in our Victoria rail services, we feel a joint national–London solution to provide the trains needed to fill the gaps in the evenings and weekends can be consistent with localism in this case. It would need to be only a short term interim measure, between December 2012 and the introduction of the new franchise to Victoria, to leave us with a 7 day a week full service of at least two trains per hour. This would still be a deterioration in what there is currently by reducing by nearly half the trains to Victoria, but it would fill the gaps and provide a regular service in the meantime before the new franchise.
 
We are not the rail experts and do not know all the intricacies of the track capacities and rail time tabling issues so we will not presume to make specific suggestions. But a simple change, which illustrates an example that would fill these gaps, would be the extension of the current two trains per hour Dartford to Victoria service via Peckham Rye, to a full day and evening 7 day a week service. There may well be other and better ways to provide the interim solution. It is the full and regular service that is important for the user rather than the precise details of how it is achieved.
 
We hope that you and the Department will find these comments and suggestions constructive, and ask if you would reconsider, in this particular case, the role of the Department and Network Rail so they can join with the London Mayor and TfL to provide together the solution to the problem of filling the gaps to Victoria in the evenings and weekends in the interim period.
 
CC Mayor of London