Thursday, January 22, 2015

More through trains from Catford to Kentish Town are coming!


I'm late to this, but Govia Thameslink Railway, who run the trains through Catford amongst other things, launched a consultation on their proposed timetable changes for 2015 last year, with a closing date of 30 January.

The changes proposed for Catford are minor, so minor that they aren't asking for feedback on this part of the timetable change (see page 8 of this 29 page pdf)!  

In December 2015, they are proposing that early morning and late evening services which currently operate only between London Blackfriars and Sevenoaks will be extended to and from Kentish Town. This will provide Catford with extra connections through to St Pancras and beyond.

They propose no further changes in 2015.

From 2018 they propose that trains between Sevenoaks and London Blackfriars on Saturdays are extended to and from Kentish Town providing weekend connections to and from London St Pancras. This is also obviously good news, but one might ask why we have to wait so long? Presumably it's something to do with the Thameslink Programme.

If one were feeling churlish, one might also suggest that there is potential to run more frequent services through Catford, the service frequency can be pretty woeful! Still, it gets me to the football.

(Thanks to Darryl for the tip off)




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update on the Safer Brownhill Road campaign





I wrote back in October about the Safer Brownhill Road campaign, set up to try to make TfL take action to improve the safety of the crossing at Stainton Road and to install a crossing at Torridon Road. Natasha, who set up the campaign, was running a petition to TfL which was presented towards the end of last year. It was presented to the chair of TfL by Len Duvall, London Assembly member for our area and in the meantime Heidi Alexander, our MP, has written to TfL. Caroline Pidgeon, a LibDem assembly member who covers transport, came to view the junction and the crossing earlier this month.

Since that visit TfL have agreed to refresh the Stainton Road zebra crossing. They say that they have inspected the road markings at this location concluded that while they were not in urgent need of refreshing and were legible, they would be happy to add a refresh onto their programme of works for 2015/16. TfL also say they are investigating the lights in the zebra crossing posts and will take necessary action to make them brighter and therefore more visible to drivers. They are also exploring the possibility of adding two advance warning signs on the posts before the crossing to warn drivers. They say that they are hopeful of having these signs installed within the next 10 to 12 weeks. Keep an eye out!
 
In addition to this, TfL have agreed to carry out a safety assessment on the junction of Brownhill Road and Torridon Road to consider installing a controlled pedestrian crossing - this assessment will be carried out before January 2016.


In TfL's letter to Heidi Alexander from October 2014, from Leon Daniels MD for surface transport at TfL, they say the review of the Brownhill/Torridon junction will happen "within the next financial year", which I guess fits with Jan 2016. However, in an email sent from his office in December to Mark Morris, LibDem senior press officer, it is made very clear that this is "subject to change". TfL also state in that same email that "there were just two collisions in 2013 at this location that resulted in injuries."

This email was followed up by Mark at the beginning of this month with further questions about both Stainton Road and Torridon Road. TfL's reply outlines their plans for the Stainton Road crossing. They say that after recent events and the petition signed by local residents they will include this location in their 2015/16 annual programme of road safety reviews. As part of this, they will review the safety record of Brownhill Road, which includes the existing zebra crossing at its junction with Stainton Road. The study will also consider the viability of introducing a controlled pedestrian crossing at the junction of Brownhill Road and Torridon Road. This review will be completed by January 2016.

Natasha plans to push for the review to happen sooner, rightly pointing out that a year is an awful long time to wait. Watch this space, and well done to Natasha for getting this on to the agenda at all!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Don't mention the prefabs - Lewisham Council plans new "pop up" housing

Lewisham Council announced last week that it plans to put "pop up housing" on the site of the former Ladywell Leisure Centre, to provide temporary homes for 24 families, plus some community facilities. The plan is that the housing would remain on the site for no longer than four years. There would be eight ground-floor non-residential units.

The council have published some details of the scheme, including the following images, which I have downloaded from their website:





The units are constructed off site, which means that the first residential units could occupied by late summer. The units can also be taken down and used elsewhere, hence the term "pop up", which I hate with a passion, by the way. You can meet the architects on January 24th, at Lewisham library between 2 and 4pm.

It might not have escaped your attention that this is essentially pre-fabricated housing. I wonder why the council have shied away from using the term prefab? Could it be because it has authorised the demolition of the Excalibur prefab estate, which provided 187 two bedroom houses on its site in Catford? These houses were intended to last 10 years, but a large number still stand today.

However, the demolition has begun and in December I took a wander round the site to see what it looks like now.

A large part is boarded up, with signs like this at the gates.


Peer through the gates and this is what now remains:
This was Mordred/Wentland/Ector Roads, which once looked like this:
It looks very eerie now, with the lampposts and telegraph poles the only hints as to what was there.


 The former prefab museum is in a sorry state after last year's fire:




Though for the moment this artwork remains next door:
In December those behind the prefab museum decided not to look for a space to reopen in one of the prefabs that's still there. I assume the money raised by the kickstarter will be used elsewhere.

Some of the prefabs still look well cared for, like this one did a couple of years ago:
but others look more like this:
 Or this:


But, never mind, shiny new pop-up housing to house less than a seventh of the families that could be housed here. Yeah! Way to go.

All my prefab pictures are on flickr. I will continue to document the estate's decline, whether the council want me to or not.










Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cleverly's Bakerloo bungle...



A bit late on this one, but it's still worth a mention. Despite the cries of joy around large parts of South East London at Boris's announcement of the proposed Bakerloo line extension, it seems there's one council that remains to be convinced - Bromley. I've been led to believe that Bromley council is refusing to get involved in discussions about the extension, possibly because of worries about losing the Hayes National Rail service. This seems to be borne out in the responses to the comments on this 853 piece about the extension.

In the meantime, James Cleverly, the London Assembly member for the area, has asked a number of questions of the mayor about the proposals, and specifically their effect on the Hayes service. What interested me most was this question:

If the Bakerloo Line Extension goes ahead, what would be the effect on journey time for those travelling from Hayes to London Bridge?

It seems to me this question was clearly designed to get the response that journey times would increase. I mean, it's obvious isn't it, the South Eastern service from Hayes often goes "fast" to London Bridge, so a tube line that stops everywhere is clearly going to be slower. Right?

This is the mayor's response:


Allowing for an average wait time of 3 minutes for a National Rail train at Hayes station, the current total journey time from Hayes to London Bridge is 41 minutes. The proposed Bakerloo line extension Option 1a via the Old Kent Road would reduce the journey time between Hayes and London Bridge to 35 minutes, delivering a journey time saving of approximately 6 minutes. Option 1b via Camberwell and Peckham Rye would reduce the journey time to 37 minutes, reducing journey times from Hayes by 4 minutes via a change at Elephant and Castle.


So, what this means in essence is that either option on the table would *reduce* journey times from Hayes to London Bridge, either by 6 minutes for option 1a and 4 minutes for option 1b, including a change at Elephant.
The mayor goes on:


This does not consider the additional benefits of enhancing the frequency of trains on the line from an average of 6 trains per hour to at least 15 trains per hour with the proposed extension. This means that Hayes station could be served by a train every 4 minutes rather than every 10 minutes, more than halving the gap between services.

So not only would journey times be faster, they would also be more frequent, jumping from 6 trains per hour to at least 15!
And of course, the extension would provide a direct link right into Oxford Circus and beyond, another benefit over the current National Rail Service.

I couldn't find Bromley's response to the consultation on their website (you try finding anything on a local government website), but I did find their response to the Mayor's Transport Strategy from 2010, which sets out their concerns about the Bakerloo line:

Whilst Bromley remains broadly supportive of this proposal in principle, we would need complete reassurance that the Hayes Line’s current connectivity to Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge would in no way be lost by such a proposal, prior to committing our full support.

Surely, in the light of the response above, Bromley can see that the Hayes line would benefit from the switch over to London Underground, and that clinging to connectivity through a congested national rail link through London Bridge that struggles to cope with the number of trains it has to carry isn't benefitting anyone! Removing the Hayes trains from London Bridge and beyond would free up space for everyone else's lines, journey times from Hayes will still be quicker and Hayes would be better connected than it is now! I think that's what transport planners like to call a "no brainer".

Any Bromley residents want to follow this up with their council?

Update 18:00: Lewisham Council have published their response to the consultation, which is worth a read.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Lewisham's borough-wide 20mph plans - a good news update


Not just an excuse to use this picture again, I promise...

At next Wednesday's Mayor and Cabinet (14th Jan), a paper is being presented for a decision on the plans for implementing a borough-wide 20mph speed limit in Lewisham. This follows on from the Labour Party manifesto pre-election which made it a Mayoral commitment.

The key decision document is on the council website, and the main thing to note is that the report is seeking approval from the mayor "for the proposed approach for the implementation of a 20mph speed limit on all borough roads, and proposes a programme of work covering the planning and delivery period between 2014 and 2017."

The report says that while introducing 20mph limits on 65% of the borough's roads has helped address a number of casualty hotspots, it's now time for a new approach focussing on addressing the inequality that now remains for vulnerable road users in the remaining 35%. They point out that often the borough's most disadvantaged people live closest to main roads and therefore would benefit more from implementing 20mph borough-wide, this ought to have the knock on effect of, eventually, reducing health inequalities by, for example increasing life expectancy of the most disadvantaged borough residents by more than the rest.

It's also now possible to implement 20mph zones more cheaply, since it can be done through signage and road markings, rather than through physical measures. This would also mean that, eventually, the behaviour and attitudes of road users would change. However, the report acknowledges that signed-only areas aren't ideal where before speeds are relatively high and therefore other targeted interventions may be needed in addition in these areas, e.g. by engineering measures or by use of speed cameras.

The overall plan set out by Lewisham is as follows (copied from the report):

1. Agree overall approach, governance and funding (Dec 2014) (presumably this is now Jan 15)

2. Data collection of speeds/ analysis of data (six months from Jan 15 - June 15).

3. Consultation with key stakeholders such as the emergency services, TfL, and neighbouring authorities - Police are likely to object to the borough wide implementation initially as some roads may not be suitable without traffic calming to ensure self-enforcing compliance. We will work closely with the Met Police to work out issues and resolve them so we can deliver a joined up approach and a successful implementation process throughout the scheme. (Jan 15 - Sept 15).

4. Review policy relating to the design of 20mph areas and the programme of work for the introduction of the limit. (Sep 15 – Mar 16)

5. Complete the required programme of work for Traffic orders and implementation (April 16 - July 16). This assumes minimal work on the ground at this stage.

6. Design options (interventions) to encourage\enforce compliance (May 17 - Oct 17)

7. Arrange formal consultation on compliance measures with emergency services and buses (Sept 17 - Dec 2017).

8. Carry out a widespread ‘hearts and minds’ publicity and public information campaign as part of LB Lewisham's new Road Safety Plan Jan 2015 to March 2018.

This means implementation will start in March 2016.

Lewisham intend on doing a publicity campaign around the introduction of the limit, focussing on fairness for all road users. There will be information materials (presumably signs) at borough entry points "making drivers aware that they are entering a borough that is committed to reducing casualties and making the roads safe for all road users."

The programme has been costed at £1.23m, and will be funded from council reserves.

The estimated breakdown is as follows (taken from the report):


I'm really excited that this is finally happening, and pleased to have played a tiny part in pushing the council in the right direction. Let's hope all runs smoothly and we finally get the 20mph borough we deserve!

Update 18:15, 14th January: The Mayor approved the plans tonight, so hopefully it's all systems go!

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014's top posts

OK, this is utterly self-indulgent given I've only posted 25 times all year, but here is a run down of my top 7 blog posts of the year (why 7? Well, that's all I can get Blogger's stats to tell me....)

7. Pollution in Lewisham, Hither Green and Catford; or why I am against the Silvertown Tunnel (6 May 2014)


Well, this one had to be in there didn't it? After all, it's something I've spent about half or more of all my free time on this year...

6. The worst thing about cycling in London is...? (11 July 2014)






Another thing I bang on about all the time, and pretty popular on the blog too...

5. Update on Catford Town Centre Plan and the Catford Bridge Tavern (17 September 2014)





Lewisham council's first full meeting for over 6 months had lots of interesting stuff, not least on what the future might hold for the Catford Bridge Tavern (still closed but with work going on things look more hopeful than they did earlier in the year.)

4. Lewisham Council's official response to my 20mph petition (6 June 2014)





I started this petition to get Lewisham Council to change their mind on making the whole of the borough a 20mph zone at the end of last year, handed it in around Easter time and received a pretty hopeless response in June. However, following the petition, it was made a Labour manifesto commitment that the borough-wide zone would happen. I must admit I need to follow up on just how far plans have got since.

3. Lewisham Council election results 2014 - the detail (30 May 2014)




It took Lewisham what seemed like forever to get their results online compared to other councils, and when they did they were in the form of a handy pdf... However, thanks to the efforts of the Lewisham Green Party typing the results from pdf into excel by hand, I was able to do a bit of analysis on them in this blog post. The big news of course being the complete melt down of the Lib Dems and the rise of everybody's favourite left wing party, People Before Profit. Not too much going on for UKIP, except on the very outskirts of the borough.

2. How likely is it Lewisham will go 'all Labour' in May? (13 March 2014)

Everyone loves a bit of speculation...

1. Lewisham Council and Mayoral Election Candidates 2014 (25 April 2014)

And everyone loves a list. Election fever struck Lewisham this year then!

Any predictions for 2015?




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Train services from Hither Green as of January 2015


Unless you've been hiding somewhere under a rock, it won't have escaped your notice that Southeastern train services are changing from January 12th 2015. It's all part of the Thameslink Programme, known for amusement value as Thameslink 2000, designed to make everything through London Bridge run tickety boo and never ever late. This must be a good thing of course, but the whole thing is going to take years (it's due to finish in 2018) and the biggest disruptions start now.

To be honest, I hadn't really got my head round it at all, and as it's nearly January I thought it might be a good time to try.

I moseyed along to the Thameslink Programme website, which has a lovely feature where you can pick your station and see how the changes in January affect you. Brilliant. Right? No - all it does when you choose Hither Green is tell you your train operator is Southeastern (no, really?!) and direct you to their amazing website for more info.

Frankly the Southeastern website is as confusing as it's possible to be, and has information on at least three different pages about the January changes, at least some of which I think is actually wrong.  I decided the best plan was to download the timetable and sort it out for myself. Yeah right. For starters, to get services from Hither Green you need two timetable books. Then once you open them they are impossible to understand. I tweeted to that effect and got the following reply from Southeastern themselves almost immediately:
  


Right.

OK then, off to the National Rail website for me. And this is what I have managed to ascertain:

Morning Services to Charing Cross
06:29 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6 06:50
06:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 07:02
06:56 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 07:18
06:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1 07:23
07:16 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6 07:37
07:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5 07:44
07:36 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 4 07:58
07:39 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 08:04
08:02 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 08:24
08:15 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 08:36
08:22 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1 08:44
08:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6 09:03
08:42 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 09:05
08:55 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5 09:20
09:08 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1 09:32
09:16 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 09:37
09:37 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5 09:58
09:42 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 10:03

None of these trains will stop at London Bridge. (Hip Hip Hurray!) 

Morning Services to Cannon Street
06:46 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 3 07:10
06:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 07:08
07:08 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 5 07:26
07:11 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 07:34
07:28 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 07:45
07:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4 07:56
07:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 2 08:10
07:53 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 08:18
08:12 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 6 08:37
08:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 5 08:56
08:50 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 3 09:13
09:00 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 2 09:23
09:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4 09:42
09:28 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 6 09:55
09:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4 10:12

All these trains will stop at London Bridge (enjoy!)

Morning Services to Lewisham
06:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 06:42
06:46 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 06:51
06:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:03
07:11 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:15
07:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:23
07:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:36
07:39 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:43
07:53 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:58
07:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:03
08:12 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:16
08:18 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:22
08:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:37
08:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:42
08:50 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:54
08:55 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:00
09:00 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:04
09:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:23
09:28 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:32
09:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:53

Ooh lots of trains to Lewisham, exciting.

Morning Services to Blackfriars
07:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Blackfriars [BFR] Platform 3 08:29
08:18 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Blackfriars [BFR] Platform 3 08:48

All new and exciting! Woo! (Not. The 07:58 replaces the 07:58 to Charing Cross). The 08:18 might be new though - can any train geeks confirm or deny?

Morning Services to Victoria
Aha ha ha! You're having a laugh aren't you? This will only happen if something goes wrong somewhere...

So there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about morning services from Hither Green into town on a weekday. For anything else there's nationalrail.co.uk.