Friday, May 13, 2011

Westcombe Society response to Southeastern Trains' proposed Olympic timetable

The Westcombe Society covers the area between Greenwich Park and the A102 to the South of the Greenwich Line. We welcome the opportunity to comment on the consultation timetable for the Olympic period, but have serious doubts of the need for proposed overall scale of service cuts, and express our strong objection to the way these proposed cuts are concentrated on just 4 stations, including both of those serving our area - MazeHill & Westcombe Park (the other two being Woolwich Arsenal and Deptford). Since of the four, these are the only two which are consecutive, this area seems to have been specifically targeted for cuts. Furthermore, given the closure of all foot and cycle routes across Greenwich Park, the closure of Charlton Way and the obstruction of Romney Road by the large numbers crossing it from the shuttle bus disembarkation point, there must be a strong likelihood that all other modes of transport serving this area - bus, car, cycling, walking and hence access to the Greenwich stations and to North Greenwich - will also be severely disrupted or impossible (and more so than on other points on the line). Thus, unless it can be demonstrated that these other modes will in fact be operating close to normal, we have to regard the extent of the proposed targeting of rail cuts on this area as wholly unacceptable.

On a more specific point, in the likely absence of other good means of travelling from London before noon or to London after, we believe that the proposed Maze Hill timetable would create very serious difficulties. Is there evidence that users of Maze Hill are substantially more concentrated in the conventional rush-hour than users of other stations? And if the reason for the pattern of semi-closures is to prevent unmanageable crowds of Olympic spectators coming from central London using Maze Hill, even when they will presumably have been given directions to use Greenwich, this is surely massive overkill and cannot justify the proposed degree of inconvenience for regular passengers.

Turning to the overall scale of the proposed cuts, we are not convinced that (other than very occasionally) the additional waiting time required for embarkation and disembarkation of spectators would require the elimination of (typically) 3 other stops, and even if some additional time is required we do not see why this should not be accommodated by slightly longer overall running times. Indeed, it might well be that only on Cross-Country day will the number of passengers make an appreciable difference – in which case significant timetable changes could also be limited to just this one day.

Finally, we must emphasise the crucial importance of examining the proposals for rail in conjunction with those for bus and tube, whilst also taking full account of expected restrictions on cycling and walking. We need a holistic approach. It is also essential that this take full account of the needs of disabled and less mobile passengers.

Dick Allard, Chair of Planning & Environment sub-committee

6 May 2011

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