SRUG Comments on South Central Franchise

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 Comments on South Central Franchise Consultation

12 August 2008
The Southwark Rail Users Group (SRUG) is concerned with the issues faced by users of the stations in mid Southwark, who use the services routed through Peckham Rye – in addition to Peckham Rye itself, this is Denmark Hill, Queens Road Peckham, South Bermondsey, East Dulwich, North Dulwich and Nunhead. In addition to the services covered by the South Central franchise, services coming from Kent to Victoria and Blackfriars also go through Peckham Rye, which is therefore a major direct connection station for 6 Tube lines. The housing developments in the areas served by these stations are changing the demographics and will continue for the foreseeable future to increase significantly the number of rail commuters in rush hour and during the day. SRUG was established by local residents in 2007 as a result of raised awareness about rail planning through the South London RUS consultation.
These comments on the South Central Franchise Consultation respond to the request on Page 45 for information on locations where particular issues need to be addressed. The list below indicates some of the main areas which need attention, but is not necessarily comprehensive. The franchise should require the operator to work co-operatively with local user groups.

Ticket sales: there are serious problems in buying tickets in the busy times. There needs to be more than one ticket machine at each station, and the ticket office queues also need to be better managed; at East Dulwich station in particular there are frequent problems in getting a ticket at all. Until these problems in buying tickets are resolved, Inspectors should have the scope to issue tickets on the trains. The new franchise should also require that the oyster card system be brought into operation as soon as possible.
Accessibility: this is very poor at Peckham Rye for buggies & heavy luggage, and impossible for wheelchairs. There is a lift to platforms 1 & 2, and the franchise should require it to be brought back into operation. The operator should also be required to investigate with Southwark Council and local User Groups how to overcome other accessibility problems at Peckham Rye and any of the other stations, within the franchise period.
Graffiti : this is a serious and worsening problem at Peckham Rye and needs a determined approach to planned deterrence & effective cleaning by the station operator in collaboration with Network Rail and Southwark Council.
Litter on tracks: this needs much more effective joint working between the station operator & Network Rail, especially at Peckham Rye.
Train Services information at Peckham Rye: There needs to be a more imaginative approach to information for all services that go through Peckham Rye station by BOTH train operators, and managed by the station operator. This also needs to publicise clearly and simply the significant number of direct connections to the Underground system from Peckham Rye station; and reinstate the discontinued timetable information booklet for all services.  The current automated displays in the station entrance, on the stairs and on the platforms should be maintained to a high standard; they are essential for effective use of the station.
Toilet facilities: there is a public toilet at Peckham Rye, but hardly anyone knows this. The franchise should require this to be made more accessible to passengers, while ensuring that it is managed adequately to prevent misuse.
Listed building & open piazza: the station operator needs to work closely in partnership with Network Rail, Southwark Council, and the local user groups, to develop and help implement the ideas for renovating, upgrading and utilising the historic station buildings, and opening up the piazza in front of Peckham Rye station.
Queens Road Peckham: there are a number of issues needing resolution including: better information at ground level, an extension of the hours the ticket office is open beyond lunch time, more seats on the platforms, better shelter from the rain, better illumination of the station signage (these latter points apply also to South Bermondsey). There has been a feasibility study for a lift at the station which is sorely needed, and the franchise operator should be required to work with Southwark Council and local users to make this happen, and to resolve the other outstanding issues.
London Bridge departures: since the rebuilding of London Bridge station began, there have been no seats anywhere for passengers who have to wait on the concourse before they know which platform to go to for trains operated under this franchise. Sometimes the platforms are not announced until very close to departure, and do not allow time to get to the trains from the concourse. The franchise operator should be required to work with the operator of London Bridge station to ensure that this problem is resolved, and to ensure there is some seating on the concourse.
Weekday peak hours: more train capacity is needed in the morning weekday peak hours as trains are full at Peckham Rye to London Bridge, and passengers are frequently unable to get on the trains, and are left on the platforms at all the stations.
Last trains at night: later last trains are needed departing from London Bridge at the end of the day.
Weekend services: more frequent trains are needed to London Bridge and Victoria, and not less than 4 an hour.
South London Line: the franchise must require this service, between Victoria and London Bridge, via Denmark Hill/Peckham Rye, to be retained until the East London Line Extension phase 2 (ELLX2) is in operation, and the promised additional services to Victoria, providing 5 trains per hour and running until last thing in the evening, are in operation.
East Croydon service: it appears that it is proposed that this service from London Bridge via Peckham Rye is to be discontinued. This service is very useful, including linking to Gatwick airport from many places in SE London. Have there been any consultations on this, and can it be reinstated into this franchise?
Safety: staff need to be available at all the stations until the last trains at night.
Anti-social behaviour: the new franchise should require the train operator to stop antisocial behaviour on the trains - including feet on seat, and noise from use of radios & mobile phones.
Cycles: cycle parking at each station should be reviewed by the operator with the local cycle groups and rail user groups. Train stock should be upgraded to make room for bicycles.