Disruption for three years on train route

A Southeastern train
A Southeastern train

The council is calling on the rail industry to do more as passengers face three years of disruption.

Councillor Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, was speaking after councillors received a briefing on the implications of the London Bridge closure, which will lead to major changes to the timetable as the London terminal is rebuilt to accommodate the new Thameslink services.

He said: “We absolutely support the need for investment in new rail infrastructure, and have no doubt that, when completed, London Bridge station will have first-rate facilities and a better train service than now. What concerns us is what happens during the three years that the Southeastern side of the station is being rebuilt.

“At our briefing by train operating company Southeastern, we were told that trains from Hastings to Waterloo East and Charing Cross cannot call at the station for some 18 months, starting in January 2015.

“Huge numbers of passengers travel between Hastings and London Bridge, and they will face having to go through the station to Waterloo East, then retrace their journey on the Jubilee Line, or by bus. Although this will not cost any more, it will be massively inconvenient, adding to already long journey times.

“Passengers wanting to travel onwards via Thameslink services will be even more seriously affected, as Thameslink trains won’t be calling at London Bridge for three years. We asked for more to be done for passengers travelling to places like Guy’s Hospital; this journey is very easy at the moment, but will become much more difficult, particularly for those with mobility problems, when London Bridge closes to Hastings line trains. I will be writing to David Statham, Southeastern’s new managing director, to ask that our concerns are taken seriously, and more is done to help those travelling to and from Hastings while London Bridge station is rebuilt.”

Michelle Ulyatt, Southeastern spokeswoman, said: “We recognise the significant impact that the £6.5 billion government funded Thameslink Programme will have on our passengers’ journeys and so we are using all means available to us to communicate details of alternative travel options and ticketing arrangements. We have also been involved in meetings with local councils and other stakeholders around our network to brief them fully on the arrangements and, jointly with Network Rail, explain the reasons that the work at London Bridge is so vital.

“The station rebuild will help to increase capacity at London Bridge and improve performance and punctuality.”

For full details of the work visit www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/about-us/improvements/london-bridge-station.