Thameslink RailPlan20/20 – 21 December 2018

Departures from Ravensbourne on Monday 17 December 2018

On Monday 17 December 2018, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) finally provided the improved rail service that they have been promising for two years. It took so long that their representative that first told us the timetable would be revised (the stationmaster at Ravensbourne station) has now retired!

There are now four trains an hour in each direction on the Catford Loop on a weekday. Every other off-peak service runs north of Blackfriars, to and from Kentish Town.

Downs Hill bridge – 27 November 2018
Downs Hill bridge (bridge number 490) is situated in Downs Hill, Bromley. It's where the road crosses the railway at the start of the Catford loop, just to the north-west of Shortlands Junction:

Shortlands Junction

Andrew Rogers, Communications Executive at the London Borough of Bromley, wrote to ward councillors on 26 November 2018 as follows:

We wanted to let you know that Network Rail are placing some concrete blocks along the kerbside over part of Downs Hill bridge, with this work taking place fairly shortly, most probably today, albeit we are not at the site location to check. See the illustrative map as a guide to their positioning but these blocks will not stop pedestrians using the bridge, including those using a wheelchair for instance and nor will it stop cars driving over the bridge.
Please feel free to share this information with your constituent residents but basically, as part of Network Rail’s long term planned work on their bridges, they are carrying out repairs to Downs Hill bridge and this work has shown that further repairs are needed. The concrete blocks will be in place most probably until April 2019 when the work will be completed. Please note that as rail ‘track possessions’ are required to carry out this work, there will be long periods where seemingly work is not taking place, with the work being carried out on the bridge, largely out of sight, under the bridge. Nevertheless the blocks will remain in place for the duration of this work, with these blocks being used to prevent vehicles accidentally using parts of the pavement where repair work is required to the bridge, purely as a precaution.
Please confirm to any interested resident that this is Network Rail’s work (as it is their bridge) and if they have any queries, they should contact Network Rail’s Customer Service team on 03457 11 41 41.
If you do have any questions, please feel free to make contact.
Thameslink RailPlan20/20 – 11 July 2018
Much has been written about the failure of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to provide the improved rail service that they have been promising for so long. A representative of GTR confirmed today that the timetable will shortly be amended so that off-peak services on the Catford Loop to and from London will revert to two trains an hour. None of these will run north of Blackfriars.

Thus the service has reverted to what it was before 2010. Peak services will remain at for trains per hour, with none of the additional peak services that residents used to enjoy. You may wish to consider travelling outside these times if you hope to get a seat.
Thameslink RailPlan20/20 – 22 March 2018
The doubling of off-peak services on the Catford Loop to London, bringing extra capacity on this route, is due to begun on Monday 21 May 2018. As set out in the consultation:
  1. The services are spaced at ten minutes and twenty minutes apart, which is not ideal.
  2. No additional services are provided at peak times. This does not hit Ravensbourne station so much, but commuters using Shortlands will find the number of City-bound services between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. cut from seven to four.
This is now part of RailPlan20/20, the transformation and modernisation of four interconnected rail networks. A new timetable will be rolled out over several weeks during May and June. Improvements to Thameslink from May 2018 include:
  • Littlehampton and Horsham to London Bridge services transfer to Thameslink, with a new timetable and travel opportunities.
  • Anyone travelling from London Bridge to East Croydon (and onward interchange) will see a significant uplift in services.
  • Thameslink services diverted via Crystal Palace start to call again at London Bridge.
  • New Thameslink services between Luton and Rainham.
  • Catford Loop – doubling off-peak services to London, bringing extra capacity on this route.
  • A significant increase in frequency of trains between St Albans and St Pancras.
  • Some Great Northern services to Cambridge will transfer to Thameslink, simplifying journey options and providing access to new destinations.
Timetable consultation – Kent Thameslink – 6 July 2017
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has launched a further consultation which sets out proposed changes to the timetable which will be operated by GTR in 2018 following completion of the Thameslink Programme. The new timetable will go live in May 2018.

The second stage of the consultation started on Monday 26 June 2017 and closes at 1700 on Thursday 27 July 2017. They need to formally submit their timetables to Network Rail by mid-August 2017.

The consultation document sets out all the details, and may be read in conjunction with the relevant timetable. As they previously stated, new all day train services are proposed to be introduced between Kentish Town – Central London (via Elephant & Castle) – Catford – Bromley South – Orpington. During Monday to Friday peak periods these trains will be extended to and from Luton. This is in addition to the current train services between London Blackfriars – Elephant & Castle – Catford – Bromley South – Swanley – Sevenoaks. During peak periods these trains will be extended to and from Welwyn Garden City. The two routes combine between London Blackfriars and Bickley to provide 4 trains per hour on the Catford Loop route at all times of the day, doubling the frequency of Thameslink train services.

This is generally satisfactory, but we see two issues:
  1. The services are spaced at ten minutes and twenty minutes apart, which is not ideal.
  2. No additional services are provided at peak times. This does not hit Ravensbourne station so much, but commuters using Shortlands will find the number of City-bound services between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. cut from seven to four.
On the other hand, as set out on their own consultation pageSoutheastern will commence operating:
  • 5 morning peak services from Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars, calling at all stations via Herne Hill
  • 3 morning contra-peak services from Blackfriars to Beckenham Junction calling at Herne Hill only
  • 5 evening peak services from Blackfriars to Beckenham Junction, calling at all stations via Herne Hill
  • 3 evening contra-peak services from Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars calling at Herne Hill only
These services are currently operated by GTR Thameslink. Commuters using Shortlands could always join these services en route, but this will not be very satisfactory in terms of journey time. Southeastern’s consultation period ends on 9 August 2017.

It would be good if members of the Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society and other residents could respond to the Govia Thameslink Railway consultation via the online survey on the website or by post to:

GTR 2018 Timetable Consultation
East Side Offices
Kings Cross Station
London N1C 4AP

Suburban rail services – 11 October 2016
In September 2016 the Mayor of London presented a paper to their Board that summarised proposals on suburban rail services, including the transfer to TfL of various services. In general the services that would be suitable for transfer to TfL would be ‘stopping’ suburban services that terminate inside (or sometimes just beyond) the London boundary – as they principally serve passengers making local journeys in Greater London.

Specifically, they have identified the following groups of suburban services that would be suitable for transfer to TfL. All of these services are part of current Department for Transport managed franchises that will end between 2017 and 2021:

(a) to/from Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Victoria serving southeast London (current franchise ends in June 2018);
(b) to/from London Bridge and Victoria serving south central London (current franchise ends in September 2021);
(c) to/from Waterloo serving southwest London (current franchise ends in June 2017); and
(d) to/from Moorgate serving north central London (current franchise ends September 2021).

Thus, as you can see from the map, Southeastern services through Shortlands are included, but Thameslink services through Ravensbourne would be unaffected by the proposals.

Timetable consultation – Kent Thameslink – 6 October 2016
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has launched an extensive consultation which sets out proposed changes to the timetable which will be operated by GTR in 2018 following completion of the Thameslink Programme. The consultation launched on Thursday 15 September and closes at 17:00 on Thursday 8 December 2016.

When the programme completes in 2018, it will transform north-south travel through London; journeys will be improved with trains every two to three minutes through central London at peak times. Improved connections will give you better travel options to more destinations than ever before, modern track will make your journeys more reliable and new trains will provide additional capacity. This will be the biggest timetable change on the routes affected in a generation. GTR are therefore seeking feedback from any interested parties who may be affected by the proposed changes to help shape the new patterns of service.

This consultation will be the earliest a train operator has released proposals in advance of the planned changes allowing sufficient time for meaningful and on-going engagement.

The document with all the details may be downloaded:
Information sheets with a summary of proposed changes by route may be downloaded, including:
New all day train services are proposed to be introduced between Kentish Town – Central London (via Elephant & Castle) – Catford – Bromley South – Orpington. During Monday to Friday peak periods these trains will be extended to and from Luton. This is in addition to the current train services between London Blackfriars – Elephant & Castle – Catford – Bromley South – Swanley – Sevenoaks. During peak periods these trains will be extended to and from Welwyn Garden City. The two routes combine between London Blackfriars and Bickley to provide 4 trains per hour on the Catford Loop route at all times of the day, doubling the frequency of Thameslink train services.

It would be good if members of the Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society and other residents could respond in favour of this vast improvement to the service from Ravensbourne station by answering yes to Question 17.

Responses may be sent using the survey link below:
GTR have produced a station by station comparison chart to download so you can check the proposed number of trains at your station compared with today.
Bakerloo Line Extension – Option selection summary report – 19 December 2015
Transport for London (TfL) announced on 17 December 2015 that it will begin "detailed technical work" next year to develop a case for the extension of the Bakerloo Line southeast from its current terminus at Elephant and Castle to Old Kent Road and Lewisham. According to its option selection summary report, various options have been considered for the extension of the Underground network into south-east London. The link to Lewisham has the strongest business case, with the potential to support the construction of up to 25,000 new homes.

The assessment shows there could be significant additional benefits from an extension beyond Lewisham and therefore it has not been ruled out at this stage, with further work required to develop the deliverability and case further.

Bakerloo Line Extension – Responses to Issues Raised – 9 September 2015
Transport for London (TfL) has published its responses to issues raised during the Bakerloo line consultation which could extend the tube route through Lewisham and Bromley.

The main issues raised on the Bromley town centre option, and the TfL response, are as follows:

Bromley already has fast rail connections to central London
An extension to Bromley could provide improved connectivity between Bromley town centre and other areas along the proposed extension.

Appendix D shows that an Underground connection between Beckenham Junction and Bromley town centre may provide journey time savings to central London destinations including Canary Wharf and Old Street.

Bromley’s current, direct links to Victoria from Bromley South station would remain the fastest way to reach Victoria station from Bromley town centre and vice versa.

The extension could cause unreliability to the National Rail line to Bromley town centre
A Bakerloo line extension link to Bromley town centre from Beckenham Junction would not operate on National Rail tracks between these stations. It is currently proposed that this connection would be constructed in a tunnel underground.

The Underground services would therefore operate between these stations independent from the National Rail services that currently operate between Beckenham Junction and Bromley South station.

The branch is not required as it duplicates existing transport links from Bromley to central London
This option may provide additional connectivity benefits. From Bromley to Lewisham and New Cross Gate, passengers could change to DLR or the London Overground to access Canary Wharf or the city. Currently, these journeys require a number of interchanges and this proposal may provide journey time savings.

In order to extend to Bromley town centre, this option would involve converting the Hayes National Rail branch from Lewisham to London Underground. National rail services would no longer run and would be replaced by a high frequency underground service. From Beckenham Junction to Bromley town centre a new tunnelled section of underground is currently proposed.

Support is conditional on the Hayes extension being built too.
The proposed branch to Bromley town centre is currently only possible if the Hayes branch is converted to London Underground first.

Bromley does not require further new development
The London Plan has designated Bromley town centre as an Opportunity Area, capable of providing an additional 2,500 homes and 2,000 jobs.

Planning policies to deliver this growth would be the subject of a separate consultation led by the local planning authority.

Where will the station be located within Bromley town centre?
No decision has been made as to the location of a possible station in Bromley town centre.

If this option is progressed, it would be subject to engineering feasibility and further consultation with the public and stakeholders.

Trains from Bromley South to Victoria should continue to operate
It is currently expected that an extension to Bromley would involve tunnelling and new infrastructure. Therefore services between Bromley South and London Victoria are not expected to be affected by this option.

Construction of an extension will cause considerable disruption
TfL's proposals to extend the Bakerloo line remain at an early stage of development. If a decision is made to progress any of the proposed options, and the necessary funding is secured, TfL will undertake and publish the results of a full environmental impact assessment. This assessment would provide details of the construction impact.

TfL would also need to apply for the necessary planning powers and there would be further public consultation and opportunities for people to express their views on this.

Responses to Bakerloo Line Extension –
28 March 2015
The Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society responded to the Bakerloo line proposal consultation, which ran from 30 September to 7 December 2014. More than 15,000 responses were received from members of the public and stakeholders offering their views on the extension’s proposals. Overall, there was a very high level of support for the principle of an extension to the Bakerloo line. More than ninety-five percent or responses expressed support for the principle of extending the Bakerloo line.

The views on a possible tunnelled extension to Bromley town centre are interesting. The analysis shows that 60% of respondents either support or strongly support extending to Bromley town centre, and 8% of respondents either oppose or strongly oppose the extension option. A further 31% neither support nor oppose the extension (and 1% did not express a view).
In comparison with the other two options (terminating at Lewisham and Beckenham Junction and Hayes), there appears to be a slightly greater level of support for the Bromley town centre option (30% support the extension terminating at Lewisham, 56% support the extension to Beckenham and Hayes and 60% support extending to Bromley town centre).

The following from Part 10 of the report attempts to analyse the key comments.

Respondents who support the possible tunnelled extension to Bromley town centre
Economy / benefits / regeneration
Economic and regeneration benefits were the most frequently cited reasons for supporting the extension to Bromley (8% of respondents), alongside the benefits that would be gained for Bromley as a shopping destination (8%). Other comments included the benefits of the Bakerloo line for commuting (7%) and comments regarding the geographical size of the Bromley borough / that it has high demand (5%).

Twenty-two percent of respondents said they would support the improved connectivity the extension would give Bromley and the improved travel options to London, which respondents stated would put Bromley on par with other boroughs. The second most frequent comment code within the theme was the opportunity to maximise the reach of the extension by extending as far south as possible; creating more opportunities for residents (12%). A number (2%) expressed that Bromley would become a transport hub due to its existing transport links to Kent.

Fifteen percent of respondents expressed the view that the extension is a good idea / beneficial to them personally. One percent of respondents expressed support for the extension of the Bakerloo line to both Hayes and Bromley.

Crowding / congestion
Nearly half (46%) of the comments within this theme expressed the view that the Bakerloo line extension would reduce traffic in Bromley as a modal shift would occur (4% of total respondents). A further 4% of respondents stated the extension would relieve pressure on rail routes.

Suggested destinations
Thirty-two destinations were assigned comment codes within this theme. Bromley South was the most frequently stated (2% of respondents), followed by Bromley North (2%). Orpington, Lewisham and Grove Park were also mentioned in a number of cases.

Conditions for support
One percent of respondents stated that they would support the Bromley extension only if the funding is available / the cost is not prohibitively expensive. Several mentioned that their support is based on the Hayes proposal also being built (1%), and 1% as long as there is a London Underground station at Beckenham Junction.

Opposing comments to response to Question 17 [Do you support an extension to Bromley town centre?]
This theme covers comments from respondents that support the extension to Bromley town centre, but have concerns. Over half the mentions within this theme relate to Bromley already being well connected (2%). Several mention that the cost and disruption of the extension may not be worth it.

The practicality of the extension was questioned on cost grounds by 3% respondents.

Two percent of respondents noted that the extension has the potential to be cost efficient in the long term. Eight comments stated that the extension would reduce pollution due to a decrease in traffic.

A number of respondents (1% of those in support) expressed that the first part of the extension should be open as soon as it is ready. A further 1% expressed the need for a phased approach to the extension.

Respondents who do not support the possible tunnelled extension to Bromley town centre
The key recurring comment amongst the opposed responses is that Bromley already has a fast National Rail connection to central London (34% of respondents). Three percent of respondents stated that Bromley does not require a slow or metro connection to London. Two percent of respondents commented that the Underground is slower than National Rail trains over a longer distance.

Reasons for not supporting extension
Frequently mentioned comment codes within this theme included comments that the London Underground is required in other parts of London to regenerate and revitalise (5%). Four percent commented that Bromley is too far from central London to be on the Underground network. Respondents also commented that the demand between Beckenham and Bromley is already met by buses and rail (5% of respondents). A further 3% stated that they cannot see any benefit in extending to Bromley.

Eight percent of respondents stated that the extension to Bromley town centre is unnecessary. Five percent of all opposed respondents expressed a preference for investment to be focused in inner London areas before outer areas. Two percent stated that they oppose the extension beyond Lewisham.

Project cost
Concern about the cost of extending the Bakerloo line to Bromley being too expensive is a recurring issue, as stated by 13% of all opposed respondents. Also, a number of respondents stated that the Bromley town centre proposal is not cost effective (3%).

Suggestions for other / complementary transport schemes
This theme consists of 25 comment codes, whereby the most frequently mentioned suggestion is to extend Tramlink from Croydon to Bromley (3% of opposed respondents). A further 2% suggested the need for better transport services from Bromley North. Other comment codes within the theme included that the Bromley extension proposal should be served by London Overground (2%), extending the DLR to Bromley from Lewisham via Greenwich and Woolwich (1%), and reinstating the National Rail route from Bromley North to central London via Grove Park (1%).

Crowding / congestion
A number of respondents expressed concerns that the Bakerloo line trains would be at maximum capacity (4%), i.e. full all the time, if the line is extended to Bromley town centre. A similar number (4%) stated that if the line is extended too much, it would suffer.

Suggested destinations
Two percent of respondents suggested that the extension should call at Streatham. The only other destination which received notable support is Croydon (1%).

Two percent of respondents stated that the scheme would cause disruption. One percent expressed the view that building the route / tunnel is ‘impossible’. Similarly, the view that a solution on the scale of Crossrail would be required for an extension of this size was discussed in four comments (1% of respondents).

Economy / benefits / regeneration
Several respondents stated that the extension would result in increased development and threaten green space). Other comments, each by 1% of respondents, included the view that Bromley is already developed enough, and fear of the negative effect on businesses due to the better connections to central London.

Environmental impact
Two percent of respondents expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of tunnelling. One percent commented that the extension would cause the destruction of beautiful areas of Beckenham.

Respondents who neither support nor oppose the possible tunnelled extension to Bromley town centre
Neutral – but can see difficulties extending to Bromley
The view that Bromley already has good transport links is the most frequently mentioned comment code within this theme (15% of respondents). A number expressed that the costs outweigh the benefits (9%), whilst the same number of respondents would prefer to use the quicker National Rail routes. Several respondents (3% in each case) mentioned that travel time by Underground would be too long and that the extension may lead to overcrowding. Others felt that while it would be useful, they would prefer the Hayes and Beckenham Junction option (3%). The need for transport improvements to be realised in deprived areas of southeast London was also highlighted (3%).

Further information required
A number of respondents stated the need for more information, in particular on the costs of the extension (8%) and the benefits (4%). The ability of TfL to manage capacity increases was also questioned. A further 2% of respondents require more information regarding the route location.

Neutral – but can see benefit of extending to Bromley
Within this theme the most frequently stated comment was that any transport improvement is a benefit (8%). It was also noted that Bromley needs development, and that the extension would provide greater connectivity to other parts of London, and improve access to Bromley shopping centre (each mentioned by 2% of respondents).

Neutral – but suggests amendments
Three percent of respondents expressed the need to extend the route as far as possible. Few other comment codes were used to any extent. Six respondents mentioned extending the London Overground instead of the Bakerloo line, while eight suggested that the extension would be better served by Tramlink. Seven respondents suggested the reintroduction of the Bromley North to Grove Park line, and seven highlighted the need for a London Underground station at Streatham.

No overall experience
Comments within this theme were from those who are unfamiliar with the area (15% of respondents who neither support nor oppose).

Support for Bromley as part of a phased approach
Comments included support for an extension to Lewisham as the first phase, followed by an extension to Bromley (17 comments, 3%), and likewise for Bromley town centre to be the second phase of the project (19 comments, 4%), and part of a future proposal (9 comments, 2%). Ten respondents urged that the extension also includes Camberwell and Peckham.

Bakerloo Line Extension – 22 January 2015
As reported by the News ShopperBromley Council have branded plans for a Bakerloo Line extension to Hayes "disappointing" and "unacceptable", preferring to bring the DLR and Tramlink to the borough instead.

The response to the consultation on the Bakerloo Line Extension indicates that 
Bromley’s key priority remains an extension of the DLR to Bromley North (and ideally Bromley South), a vision supported by the Mayor for London and promised for attention in his 2012 Election manifesto. This will provide a link to Canary Wharf and east London.

Bromley Council are also in favour of
 a Tramlink extension as part of the Crystal Palace regeneration.

Bakerloo Line Extension – 8 October 2014
The News Shopper has reported that a Lewisham councillor has branded Bromley Council "bonkers" for allegedly opposing plans to extend the Bakerloo line to Hayes. There appears to be some confusion, and discussion has already got quite heated. However, there are well considered responses from local Councillor Michael Rutherford and his colleague Nicholas Bennett.

Update – Bakerloo Line Extension – 2 October 2014
TfL's public consultation on the Bakerloo line extension is now open. As part of extending the line beyond Lewisham, there is the possibility of continuing east, in a new tunnelled section, to Bromley town centre. A new direct link between central London and this major centre would support the area’s economy and housing growth. It would also provide a new link between central London and Bromley, as well as connections to Canary Wharf via Lewisham.

The consultation will run until Sunday 7 December 2014. Responses may be made via the Online Survey.

London's new orbital rail link – 16 September 2014
For completeness, we might mention the proposed new orbital rail link for London. According to the Guardian, this is referred to by officials as the 'R25', after London's orbital motorway.

As you can see from the possible route that has been proposed, the new network swallows up the Bromley North branch line, and runs in tunnel between there and Shortlands. Then again, it may well never happen ...
Update Bakerloo Line Extension 11 September 2014
Southwark Council Peter John has been quoted as saying that TfL are going to be starting a public consultation on 29 September 2014 on the Bakerloo line extension. And see the webpage London 2050: A Cartographical Interlude, from which Brian Butterworth has derived the diagram on this page.

Update – Bakerloo Line Extension – 16 August 2014
The London Evening Standard is reporting that consultation is going to start on the route of the Bakerloo line extension. Transport bosses will start a ten-week public consultation on extending the line to parts of south-east London historically poorly served by the Tube.

On the other hand, if their map is to be believed, the proposed route will avoid the Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society area entirely, and instead run through a newly sited Beckenham Junction station where the Chinese Garage currently stands!

Bakerloo Line Extension
 – 31 July 2014
A London Borough of Bromley report provides an update on the latest position regarding potential public transport extensions to Bromley, following recent discussions and work with Transport for London. The Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy includes a proposal to consider the feasibility of a southern extension of the Bakerloo line from Elephant & Castle. Initial feasibility work has been completed by TfL, looking at alignment options, engineering constraints, the scheme’s business case and the potential impact on development and regeneration along the length of the route.

The proposed extension would consist of a new 7 km (4.6 miles) tunnelled section between Elephant & Castle and Lewisham via Old Kent Road or Camberwell. It is then proposed that existing national rail lines south of Lewisham would be utilised to connect with Beckenham Junction and Hayes. This would see national rail services no longer serving Hayes and stations on this line, with the freed-up train paths allocated to other national rail services in south-east London.

This extension could see up to 21 trains per hour to Hayes/Beckenham Junction. TfL are also investigating an additional option for the Beckenham Junction spur to continue in tunnel on to Bromley town centre and Grove Park, providing a 3 minute frequency tube service to and from Bromley North. This option has not yet been properly evaluated by TfL. Once this has been done, the London Borough of Bromley's Environment PDS (Policy Development and Scrutiny) Committee will investigate the total potential impact – positive and negative  on the borough of the extended Bakerloo proposal.

The Mayor of London’s infrastructure plan contains lots of other interesting things and is now open for consultation until 31 October 2014.