Following discussions with our MP Bob Stewart, Southeastern Railway are set to unveil plans to increase service levels on the Hayes Line.
As demand gradually moves back towards pre-pandemic levels the new timetable in September will see longer trains and a restoration of off-peak services to Charing Cross from Hayes.
In an response to Bob Stewart MP, Southeastern Railway have confirmed that “We will be shortly announcing a timetable change in September, which will see targeted increases in capacity and frequency on routes where passenger numbers are expected to increase beyond our current service level. In London this will include longer trains on the Hayes and Bexleyheath lines at certain times of day … and the reintroduction of off-peak services to Charing Cross on the Hayes line. The next timetable change is planned for December, when we are expecting to make further targeted increases to capacity and frequency, but these plans have not yet been finalised.”
Rail services from Hayes to Cannon Street are set to end under plans set out by the Department for Transport (DfT) late last year. However, new services are set to replace them.
The DfT is inviting train operators to bid for the South Eastern rail franchise from April 2019 with the major changes coming in December 2022. For the Hayes line the bid specification (pdf 93kb) demands the Hayes to Charing Cross service should run non-stop from Ladywell to London Bridge with, optionally, stops at Lewisham only in rush hour. However, a new service to Victoria will also commence which will include Lewisham stops and open up a wider range of South London stations such as Denmark Hill (for Kings College Hospital). There appear to be no plans for a Cannon Street service.
It was over three years ago that Transport for London controversially suggested an extension of the Bakerloo underground line to Hayes, which would have seen an end to any direct services to either London Bridge or the City. Those plans now appear to have been subsequently shelved.
These new plans, although coming from central government this time, will still see the more direct City link severed, though a London Bridge connection remains allowing changes for Cannon Street as well as Blackfriars and beyond with the completion of the new London Bridge station. The technical justification for the changes is to reduce train congestion around Lewisham and so make for more reliable services.
We would be keen to hear what Hayes train users think.
Life after Southeastern could look a lot brighter now for passengers on the Hayes Line, with more frequent services and longer trains.
Some readers will have been aware of the new proposals for Transport for London (TfL) to take on responsibility for suburban rail services within Greater London.
Overall, the new partnership between the Department for Transport and TfL has three main aims:
– More frequent services, better interchanges and increased capacity
• Greater reliability for all passengers
• High standards of customer service
With the South-Eastern franchise being re-tendered soon (the new contract starts in 2018), TfL will now take the leading role in selecting the new operator.
TfL wants to see all stations served by at least four trains per hour, but as this may require infrastructure improvements this is has been billed a ‘medium term’ goal, with a target of 80% of stations running these more frequent services. It’s not clear yet whether the Hayes line would be among that 80%, what works would be required (if any) and the effect on residents near the line. However, this is positive move and we’ll be lobbying to ensure that the Hayes line can benefit with minimal disruption to residents – be they regular rail travellers or not.
There are also suggested improvements to station staffing and a long term aim for all services to run 12 carriages as the norm. There is also a passing mention of more night-time services on suburban routes, an idea which will have to be balanced against the concerns of those living near the line.
The plans promise to deliver the sort of improvements that were promised by TfL with the controversial extension of the Bakerloo line to Hayes (a plan that seems to have been shelved for now for the route past Lewisham). However it may do so at a lower cost and, crucially, without the loss of direct services to London Bridge and the City which the Bakerloo proposals would have entailed.
You can have your say in the consultation, available here, until 18th March 2016.
Transport for London are proposing a £3m scheme to extend the Bakerloo line to Hayes via Lewisham. This would mean direct services across the West End and into North London and possibly more frequent services (though whether these higher frequencies will extend to Hayes is unclear). However, there would be no direct connection to the City or London Bridge, and some dislike the idea of smaller trains (and without toilets).
What do you think? let us know in our online survey at www.hayesandconeyhall.org.uk/bakerloo