Following the unacceptable delays experienced my many of my constituents, I have written the following letter to Charles Horton, Southeastern Managing Director of the Go Ahead Group, who run the new Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern franchise.
In my capacity as Member of Parliament for Croydon Central, I have been contacted by a number of my constituents regarding the utter chaos travelling to and from London Bridge on Monday 5 January 2015.
Following the closure of London Bridge over the festive period, my constituents faced delays of up to 55 minutes during the rush-hour yesterday morning as well as dangerous overcrowding and additional delays on their journey home. They were unable to get onto platforms, which resulted in trains leaving the station half empty; and many were left stranded as they were not advised that they could use their tickets on alternative routes.
I understand that London Bridge station is being rebuilt and major work is being done to the track around the station to enable you to increase capacity on this key route and run a more reliable service. I appreciate that such major works are bound to cause some delays, but I hope you would accept that the severity of yesterday’s disruption was unacceptable. My constituents pay a lot of money for their season tickets and they have a right to expect better.
Network Rail tell me no major infrastructure failures occurred. I would therefore be grateful for an early meeting to understand what went wrong and what measures you are putting in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
I look forward to your early response.
I have just received the following joint statement from Network Rail and Southern:
Network Rail and Southern apologise for the unacceptable disruption and delays to passengers at London Bridge this week resulting in severe overcrowding on the concourse. This is not the level of service that customers deserve, expect or that we want to deliver.
Over the festive break we undertook 16 days of work rebuilding two new platforms, removing and replacing 3km of track and installing new signalling into London Bridge. This work was completed on time.
However, the new timetable has proved challenging to manage. We have reviewed this and made some immediate changes to a small number of evening peak services which will reduce the pressure on the infrastructure and allow us to deliver a more punctual service that passengers deserve*.
We will monitor the service this week and assess if any longer term changes are required.
We have reviewed the operation of the station concourse, placed more staff at London Bridge and implemented additional crowd control measures to separate passengers entering and exiting trains. By the end of the week, we will have additional passenger information screens, so the concourse is used more evenly.
Passengers are asked to check with their train operator before they travel.
*These changes involve the removal of five services from London Bridge to West Croydon during the evening peak (the stopping trains that depart at 16.36, 17.06, 17.36, 18.06 and 18.36) for the rest of this week. They believe that doing this will significantly improve the reliability of other services.
I'll keep you updated.