Will Cannon Street passengers be out of pocket from September?

Tonbridge Line Commuters has highlighted concerns that passengers will be out of pocket during the next phase of the engineering works at London Bridge.

The Thameslink Programme entails considerable disruption to Southeastern passengers travelling through London Bridge. Since January 2015 services to Charing Cross have not called at London Bridge. To allow passengers to continue to reach their usual destination, the Southeastern “London Terminals” tickets are being accepted on the Tube on several routes, including London Bridge to Waterloo and Waterloo to Charing Cross.

Over the week of the August Bank Holiday there will be major works at London Bridge, and from 2 September 2016 a new timetable will start. Stopping patterns at London Bridge will reversed. Charing Cross trains will resume calling at London Bridge and Cannon Street services no longer call there. This means that it will be impossible to travel between London Bridge and Cannon Street on Southeastern. This situation will last until January 2018 when all trains will resume calling at London Bridge

It had been assumed that from September the tube ticket acceptance scheme would change to reflect the changed timetable. In particular, we envisaged that “London Terminals” tickets would be accepted on the Northern Line between London Bridge and Bank. This would allow passengers to reach the Cannon Street area at no extra cost at times when no direct Cannon Street services were available. To our surprise, Southeastern has informed us that there will no changes to the current ticket acceptance scheme. This means that passengers unable to take a direct Cannon Street service will need stay on their train to Charing Cross, walk to Embankment, then take the District and Circle lines to Cannon Street. This would mean journey time from London Bridge to Cannon Street of some 20 minutes, compared to 5 minutes on the Northern line to Bank (including a 1 minute walk from Bank to Cannon Street).

We think most passengers do not have 30 minutes to spare in their day to allow them to travel via this highly circuitous route, and will simply pay to travel between London Bridge and Bank. They will therefore be left out of pocket by the decision of Transport for London to refuse to allow travel on this route. We have been told that Transport for London made this decision because services on this Tube route are already crowded. The same might be said of the Jubilee Line between London Bridge and Waterloo, but this is nonetheless included in the current scheme. Given that most people will simply pay to travel on a route which should have been free, Transport for London’s reasoning looks spurious.

Tonbridge Line Commuters has raised its objections both via Southeastern and Tom Tugendhat MP. We have suggested that in exchange for including London Bridge to Bank we would be willing to see London Bridge to Southwark/Waterloo and Waterloo to Charing Cross removed from the scheme, since passengers will easily be able to make these journeys on Southeastern using Charing Cross services. It is disappointing that Transport for London is showing such disregard for the needs of Southeastern passengers at the very time when they are advocating taking over some services currently run by Southeastern. We will continue to fight against this illogical and unfair decision, and encourage others to do so.

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