Catford’s Road Realignment moves forward

Major changes to the South Circular in Catford, which will improve the quality of life for people who live and work in the area, have been agreed at a meeting of Lewisham Council’s Mayor and Cabinet which was held on 19 July 2017.

From 2020/21 the South Circular will be moved to the south of Laurence House on Catford Road (through the car and lorry park). The gyratory will also be removed to create a simpler road layout at the junction of the A21 and A205.

The benefits of moving the South Circular include:

  • Wider pavements and new road crossings to create safer space for people to walk around the town centre.
  • Safer spaces for cyclists with a fully segregated cycleway on the South Circular road and new cycle lanes on A21.
  • Major improvements to Catford town centre with the creation of new pedestrianised public spaces and business space. 
  • A simplified junction for cars and buses with two way traffic reinstated on the A205 and the A21.

The decision to change layout of the South Circular means the start of a major programme of development in Catford which will create new homes, new jobs and new open spaces.
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said:

‘Moving the South Circular road will transform Catford and make the town centre a better place to live, work and visit. Our decision ends 50 years of uncertainty over the route of the South Circular road and the benefits will be felt for generations. The simplified road layout will make it easier for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to travel by removing the gyratory.

‘The future for Catford is bright with hundreds of new homes being built, new businesses opening every month and major improvements planned for the shopping centre alongside the improvements to the route of the South Circular road.’

People who live and work in Catford are invited to have their say about the area and the changes they would like to see. Their comments will help Lewisham Council develop a plan to improve the town centre in 2018.

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Why is the Charing Cross-Hayes Train Line via #Catford / #Ladywell so bad? 

Ive been perplexed for a while… Why is the commute from Catford to Charing Cross so bad? …so I posed the following question to the operators:

The Hayes Line Service operated by South-Eastern, seems to be particularly susceptible to: cancellation, delays, technical failure, over- crowding, congestion, last minute platform changes (Waterloo East), inoperative on board announcement systems, & reductions in carriage numbers. Why is this? What performance measures are there of this services with regard to these issues and how well does the service fair against other routes.

Councillor Walsh, January 2017

Reply to Cllr Walsh’s Question Performance (delays and cancellations)
In brief, it’s fair to say that performance across all lines in the last quarter of 2017 has been nowhere near the standard we want to achieve or our passengers expect and the Hayes Line has been no exception.
Across all routes we have been affected by a series of infrastructure- related issues including signal and power circuit failure, landslips, weather and adhesion-related performance problems and over-running engineering works.
Over riding this are the on-going Thameslink related works at London Bridge we have reduced capacity at and on the approaches to the station by around 50%. This means that when things go wrong, our recovery options are limited meaning services have to be diverted to other London terminals.
However, while these issues are outside the train operator’s direct control a blame game is meaningless as passengers simply want a service they can rely upon and we and other train operators welcomed the Secretary of State’s announcement earlier this month requiring Network Rail to better integrate its operation with ours to improve efficiency.
A performance improvement plan is in place which from Southeastern’s side includes:
 Recruiting more conductors and onboard managers
 100 new drivers in training
 More resources at our control centre
 Focus on right time railway by eliminating the minutes lost that add up to
knock on delays
 Recruited more platform staff to help passengers
 Working with Network Rail to remove temporary speed restrictions
 Working with Brighton University on a live information flow to be fed
directly into our systems to provide more up to date information
 Educating passengers on the best course of action to take when a
passenger falls ill on the train
 Invested in fleet improvements by replacing components likely to fail

From Network Rail’s side:

From research it has undertaken, they have established that the first eight miles out of Cannon Street and Charing Cross heading out of London is where over 40% of all delays occur. Accordingly, Network Rail has begun a 12-18 month programme to renew, upgrade or enhance those track, electrification and signalling equipment assets which are the main causes of those delays.
Network Rail is also increasing coverage of their rapid response teams who in some cases are now able to call on dedicated BTP resources to allow the use emergency blue lights to get to sites quicker to fix infrastructure failures or respond to trespass, vandalism or fatality type incidents.
In addition, Network Rail have set up remote condition monitoring on all critical junctions in the London area so asset performance can be monitored in real time and proactive intervention measures can be undertaken before components fail. It is estimated that without the remote condition monitoring, 45% more failures to the infrastructure would occur.

Technical failure

This is one area we can claim some success. Due to changes in maintenance schedules and the introduction of diagnostic software ion trains (which allows engineers to identify and replace a part before it fails) unit reliability across our fleet of Class 456/466 networkers (the trains used on the Hayes Line and other metro routes) is the best it’s ever been.
However, I do not doubt your experience and if you could give me dates and times you travelled when services were delayed or cancelled due to train failure, I’ll investigate and give an explanation.

Congestion

Since we were first awarded the franchise in 2006, passenger numbers have increased by around 40%, the bulk of this growth being in peak commuter numbers. And it’s fair to say that growth on this scale was not predicted by the Department for Transport when it set our franchise specification in 2002/3. To meet the demand, we are operating around 300 additional services (and the same is true for other operators serving the London Bridge corridor and Victoria).
Unfortunately, the track and signalling capacity has not increased concomitantly. Trains are bunched very close together at intervals of just a few minutes and even a small delay to one train will have a domino effect on other lines and services as trains stack up behind one another waiting for a platform slot.
This explains why train punctuality is always better at weekends and Bank Holidays when fewer services operate and routes are clearer.
The position will improve once the Thameslink programme works are completed in 2018.

Over crowding/reductions in carriage numbers

As explained, passenger numbers have increased by around 40% over the past ten years. However, save for the high speed trains from Ashford serving St. Pancras, (which arguably are of no benefit to commuters travelling from the borough of Lewisham), we have had no new rolling stock. We have done everything possible to mitigate this. Thanks to revised maintenance techniques the engineering team has managed to put more trains in passenger service than ever before. And we match capacity with demand by taking units off the less busy trains and add them to the busier ones. There is no overall reduction in carriage numbers and all available units are in passenger service.
The need is for more rolling stock and around 18 months ago we put a business case to the Department for Transport for additional resources and we look forward to a positive decision. MPs in our franchise area, including Heidi Alexander have lobbied the DfT on our behalf and representations from other stakeholders including Lewisham Council would be very welcome. 

Inoperative on-board announcement systems

Before trains leave the depot in the morning all on board systems including the PA system operated from the driver cab will be tested to ensure they are in working order. Drivers are also required to make announcements and this is particularly true when services are delayed or disrupted. However, I’ll be honest and say that some drivers are better at this than others.
If you could let me have examples including dates and times where on- board train announcements were either non-existent or inadequate I will investigate.

Last minute platform changes, Waterloo East

As explained above due to our operating more peak services to meet growing passenger demand, routes to London terminals are increasingly busy. This is particularly true of services to Cannon Street and Charing Cross where, due to the Thameslink works, performance has been affected by the loss of half the capacity at London Bridge.
During peak periods trains are very tightly bunched and if one service is delayed this will have a knock-on impact on others meaning they lose their platform slot and have to be diverted to another. The control room will make long line announcements giving as much notice as possible to passengers, but I appreciate this is inconvenient to those so affected.

Full Papers here

January Fare Rises #FareFail

AN EARLY & COLD morning start in #Catford campaigning for The Labour Party.

Under the Tories, fares have faced a year on year inflation-busting rise. London under Labour’s Sadiq Khan has:
 Frozen TfL fares until 2020
 New Hour Hopper Bus passes
 Introduced the Night Tube

Politics is about choices, this is Labours

 

New Years Message

On this the final day of 2016 we take a moment to look back upon the year, and begin to ponder the 12 months ahead.

The political bit:

2016 will undeniably go down in the Walsh family annals as a year of both Highs and Lows… from the triumphant wins of Sadiq Khan to the bitter blow that is Brexit, and whilst we might collectively agree and hope for a better 2017, the runes are not looking in our favour. So we are faced with a choice: to stand and lament the actions of an omni-shambles Tory Government, or take action. I choose the latter. We need an electable, well organised Labour Party, and we need to start winning again. We’ve just three and a bit years until the 2020 General election where WE MUST, for the sake of everything good & British (The NHS; Human, Civil & Workers Rights alongside salvaging Britain’s role in the World post-Brexit) be the Party that forms the next British Government.

The local bit:

Fiscally, for Lewisham the challenges and fallout from Tories in power mean ‘£1 in every three cut’, and its the Tory aspiration to increase that to ‘£1 in every two’ by 2020. We are a ‘low income, high needs borough’ (We’re not Westminster Kensington or Chelsea, with their huge business income and affluent populations, were pretty much their diametric opposite) the perverse cutting of Local Government funding, to no longer give additional support to poorer areas is reaching crunch point, we’re scrimping and saving, but still local Government is starving.

Hope:

2017, despite its challenges will have opportunities too, we’ll be developing a new #Catford Town Plan which I’m delighted to be involved with, living in and representing your community is a true honour – Catford/Rushey Green is a beautiful place that has just been ‘under-tended’, the new plans will hopefully revitalise and rejuvenate – it’s all very exciting!

Alongside this, I’ve been asked to continue my work from Scrutiny Committee and to now sit on a Poverty Task force for Lewisham, made up in part by some great British charities and ‘think-tanks’ in this area.

Lewisham’s LGBT Forum is also finally taking shape, I’ve commissioned a piece of research into several key areas of Lewisham LGBT Life that will be reporting back in late January, but ahead of LGBT History Month. Stay tuned.

Campaigning for the Bakerloo Line Extension, and ensuring it reaches to the South of the Borough, will be a key area of work for 2017, with a side project of lobbying for the DLR to be turned 24 hour from May 2021.

Finally:

It just leaves me to say a big thank you to all my family, friends and supporters for all the kindness patience and support you’ve given me over the last year, it is upon the backs of this love and support I can find the time, energy and strength to do what I can, but without you well… 🤷🏽‍♀️

Stay safe, Happy New Year and see you soon.

Cllr James-J Walsh


Do you have or know anyone who receives a Lewisham Freedom Pass? #catford

Freedom Pass holders urged to sign up for renewal

Nearly 28,000 older person’s Freedom Pass holders in Lewisham whose pass will expire on 31 March next year are being urged to renew their passes to allow them to continue to use public transport for free across London.

Renew your Freedom Pass online now
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Thameslink Programme

Major changes to your train services across London and the south east from December

Network Rail is delivering the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme, sponsored by Government, which will transform north south travel through London when it is completed in 2018. As part of the programme they are entirely rebuilding London Bridge rail station and completely realigning the tracks in the approach to the station to reduce delays.

From 20 December and throughout next year, journeys to or from London will change as they work to improve the railway continues. These changes include:

  • 20 December 2014 to 4 January 2015
    • No Southern or Thameslink trains will stop at London Bridge
    • There will also be changes to other services, including Southern and Gatwick Express services to Victoria and London Overground and Underground
  • 22 to 24 December
    • During the morning peak, some trains to Charing Cross will not call at London Bridge
  • 5 January 2015 to January 2018
    • No Bedford to Brighton Thameslink trains will call at London Bridge station for the entire period
    • A service will run every 30 mins between Brighton and London Bridge in the off-peak until approx 20.00 and a very limited service will run at  peak times
  • 12 January 2015 to August 2016
    • Southeastern trains to Charing Cross will not stop at London Bridge for 20 months
    • Some Southeastern stations will have all trains diverted to Cannon Street, with no trains calling at Charing Cross or Waterloo East

Passengers can find out how their journeys will be affected by checking our service information page.

There are alternative routes into London
The impacts on journeys will depend on the particular services you currently use. Some passengers will be required to make a different journey choice from their home station, to change onto a different National Rail service outside London or as a last resort use London Underground or buses to reach their destination.

TfL are strongly advising passengers to follow their travel advice to avoid crowding and possible delays or being charged extra.

Timetables and routing advice are available from your relevant train operator’s website:

TfL: Partner Perks getting Tories in a Tizzy.

Oyster Travel Card

Tories concerned with partner staff benefit of an Oyster Travel Card

Talk about get your priorities wrong – this could lead to a summer of Transport discontent, some may even call it ‘pay-back’ for staff asking for over-time during last years Olympic games for working harder and longer.

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