Martin Woodfine, a rail campaigner for St Leonards & Hastings Rail Improvement (Shrimp) has called for a meeting with Benjamin Ward – Press Office & Public Affairs Executive at Southeastern Railway – to discuss how services to Cannon Street from Hastings could be improved before the next timetable re-cast.
“We cannot ignore the statement made at the Hastings Rail Summit that the Hastings to Cannon Street services are unhelpful to the network due to the necessary crossing of tracks in the approaches to London Bridge, which can all too readily have a negative impact on other services,” Woodfine said.
At present the Hastings – Cannon Street trains move across onto the slow lines at Parks Bridge Junction just before Lewisham. The ‘fast’ paths relinquished are taken up by a Hayes – Charing Cross train a few hundred yards further up the line, and additionally in front of that a train off the Lewisham flyover at St John’s. The reverse is true in the evening.
According to Richard Madge, a rail expert and media representative of Bexhill Rail Action Group, the loss of paths is the equivalent of a slow path between Orpington and Hither Green, and a down path from Charing Cross.
“There can be no doubt that the Cannon Street services are well used and are an important commuter route – and we are not advocating any withdrawal. But it might be necessary to re-route them to allow them to access the correct path through London Bridge at an earlier stage of the journey than at present,” Woodfine added.
According to Ray Chapman, Co Chairman of East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA) the challenge is an infrastructure issue that affects both Southern Trains and neighbouring South Eastern, unlike South West Trains where the construction included engineering to avoid these types of conflicts.
“A review of all conflicts on the network should be analysed, costed as per the RUS [Rout Utilization Strategy] process to enable authorities, bidders and funders to pick and mix to deliver solutions,” Chapman said.