O2 bosses back Charlton station bus boost

O2 arena bosses are ready to back locals who want to see more buses between Charlton and North Greenwich stations.

Residents told a meeting of Charlton Rail Users’ Group last night they wanted to see one or more routes to the Greenwich Peninsula diverted to supplement the existing 486 service which serves the Dome and the Jubilee Line stop.

Charlton station is promoted as an interchange for the O2 – but only the 486 stops directly outside the station. A further two services to the entertainment venue, the 161 and 472, call at two separate spots close by – prompting bus users to do what was dubbed a “dance of death” between busy roads to get the first bus to North Greenwich.

The O2’s transport strategy head Geoff Symonds said he would support diverting buses via a loop in Charlton Church Lane as part of plans to make Charlton station “more of a hub” for for people travelling to the venue.

Mr Symonds told the meeting he was working on plans to ensure more than 75% of O2 visitors continued arriving by public transport, and plans for an express bus link between Charlton and North Greenwich on event nights were also under consideration.

“Less than 1% our visitors overall come via Charlton station, and of our car users, between 80% and 90% come from Kent,” he said. “The next stage of our strategy is to make Charlton station more of a hub.”

The O2 had already been successful in persuading Transport for London to make more bus services call at North Greenwich, he told the meeting.

“The Tube closures have forced us to be creative, and we did run express buses from the O2 to Charlton which were used by around 2,400 people on event nights. We actually had complements about how good the service was, when we would usually get complaints about replacement bus services.”

Charlton’s late night train service would need to be boosted to make improved bus links a success, he continued, explaining that the O2 had paid Southeastern to run extra trains from Charlton when Guns N’ Roses played at the venue, fearing the temperamental band would play beyond the Tube’s closing time.

“It paid off, because they didn’t come off stage until 12.40am,” he said, adding that the venue had secured a train service to 2am.

Southeastern’s public affairs manager Mike Gibson told the meeting Charlton Station had been awarded “safer station status” by the Department for Transport, after improvements to lighting and CCTV, a 30% annual drop in crime and positive results in a passenger survey. Staff monitored CCTV 24 hours a day, he said, and could make announcements over the station’s PA or call police if they saw trouble.

12:25PM UPDATE: It’s emerged that Thames Clippers – owned by O2 backers AEG – is cutting late night boats from central London to Greenwich and Woolwich from next week.

Thanks to David Thomson for the Charlton station photo.

8 thoughts on “O2 bosses back Charlton station bus boost

  1. Brenda October 27, 2010 / 09:16

    Amazing how a blue sky can make anywhere look nice! What was the turn out like ? I forgot about this… and i wanted to complain about the rubbish all over the station.

  2. Rebecca October 27, 2010 / 10:27

    Is Charlton Rail Station closer to the O2 than Westcombe Park? The announcements on the train always confuse me because I would have thought it would make more sense to get off at Westcombe Park for the O2

  3. Darryl October 27, 2010 / 10:53

    Brenda – about 10-12 people there. They could do with a bit more publicity, I think. The rubbish over the station did come up – it seems responsibility is split between Network Rail and Southeastern, which means it’s very easy for one side to say “that’s not our job, guv”.

    Rebecca – Westcombe Park is nearer (it’s the way I’d advise people to go if the Tube was down), but Charlton has a slightly better train service (the 6 Greenwich line trains plus 2 to the Medway Towns), faster roads to the Dome and can cope with crowds better. The bus turnaround point and shelters were put in for the Millennium Dome’s opening.

  4. Abstractnoise October 27, 2010 / 13:43

    Charlton has both better road and rail links for getting between buses and trains to/from the O2.

    Further, Westcombe Park is also not a suitable place for post-gig drunk/high people to be hanging around for transport links – it’s right in the middle of a residential area! That said, we could do with a few more people around at such times to stop the car parks being used as drugdealing/drugtaking/fighting grounds. CCTV doesn’t seem to deter them any more.

    • Darryl October 27, 2010 / 14:14

      And Charlton station isn’t in the middle of a residential area?

      Or is Westcombe Park surrounded by posher neighbours?

      And have you tried getting drunk at an O2 gig without having to file for bankruptcy afterwards?

      (I used to live close to Westcombe Park station, by the way.)

  5. Abstractnoise October 27, 2010 / 15:16

    I’m not saying Charlton isn’t a residential area – but it does have more space around it, and better road access. And posh or not, all residents have a right to sleep, peace and quiet. So really neither station is a good solution, but Charlton is a little better in some ways.

    As for getting drunk at the O2 – don’t be silly! Pretty much everyone I’ve seen drinking or drunk around there has done it far more cheaply by hitting the off-licence(s) or Sainsburys on the way!

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