No new bus from Charlton to North Greenwich – but Westcombe Hill could gain new service

Charlton Church Lane
The 335 won’t be joining the 380 running up Charlton Church Lane

Transport for London has dropped plans to send a new bus from Kidbrooke to North Greenwich via Charlton after deciding the new route would be “circuitous”.

TfL and Greenwich Council had proposed routing the new service from Blackheath Royal Standard via Charlton Road, Charlton Church Lane and Anchor & Hope Lane to give residents in Blackheath and Kidbrooke easy access to the Charlton supermarkets. The service would have also taken pressure off the 486 through Charlton, and TfL had called it its preferred option at a council scrutiny meeting earlier this year.

The Charlton Champion understands some residents had voiced unhappiness at the prospect of losing car parking spaces to make way for the new service.

But this proposal has now been dropped, with a consultation released today for new route 335, which could run via Westcombe Hill, providing relief to passengers who currently struggle to get on route 108. A second proposal would see it run direct via the A102. The service would run every 12 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes in evenings and Sundays.

The announcement came as cuts to route 53 were confirmed.

Route 335 map

TfL says: “Sending the route via Charlton was considered, either via Woolwich Road, Anchor and Hope Lane and Bugsby’s Way, or via Charlton Road, Charlton Church Lane and Bugsby’s Way.

“These routeings, while serving a wider area, would be circuitous.

“An end-to-end journey via Charlton from Kidbrooke during the morning peak would take an estimated 37 minutes. This would be a slower alternative to routes 108, 132 and 422 and therefore less attractive compared to Option 1 and Option 2.”

There have long been demands for a new service between the Kidbrooke Village development and North Greenwich. With commuting via Zone 2 North Greenwich offering cheaper fare caps than Zone 3 Kidbrooke, the new service could find itself overwhelmed very quickly – and will add to pressure at North Greenwich bus station.

A consultation into the new service is open until 17 May.


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New bus service planned for Charlton Church Lane and North Greenwich

Charlton Church Lane
Lots of parking means buses find it a squeeze to get up Charlton Church Lane

Charlton Church Lane could gain a new bus route if TfL goes ahead with plans to create a service linking the Kidbrooke Village development with North Greenwich station.

A new route linking the development on the site of the former Ferrier Estate with the Jubilee Line has long been planned, and TfL’s preferred option is for it to run via the Charlton retail parks, according to a document released at a council scrutiny meeting last week.

A question-and-answer document from TfL claims that “councillors and many residents have lobbied” for the service to run to the Royal Standard at Blackheath, then along Charlton Road, then down Charlton Church Lane, Anchor & Hope Lane and onto North Greenwich station via the current 472 and 486 routes.

In an answer, TfL says “the route preferred by residents and councillors is also our preferred route”. It is not known what other options were on the table, which residents were consulted or how they were consulted.

TfL says the route would “link Blackheath to the new Sainsbury’s in Charlton, connect people in Kidbrooke to Blackheath, Charlton and North Greenwich [and alleviates pressure on the 132, as it is another route that goes to North Greenwich from Kidbrooke Park Road”.

While another route to North Greenwich will be welcomed, the narrow Charlton Church Lane often struggles with the existing two services – the 380 and 486 – that use it. It is not known whether any parking restrictions would be put in place to allow buses to pass on the road. It also not known if there are any plans to improve bus access outside the Sainsbury’s/M&S development, where the eastbound bus stop is some distance away from the stores.

“We will shortly have internal approval to allow consultation to happen,” TfL’s reply says. “The implementation is reliant on section 106 [developer] funding from sites at North Greenwich and Kidbrooke (and to a lesser extent, Charlton).

“We need confirmation from the borough on when Kidbrooke’s funding will be released, which will influence when consultation and implementation can occur. TfL are keen on doing this as soon as possible.”

Many long-standing residents will remember when Charlton Church Lane had no buses at all – the 380 started running up and down the hill in 1993, while the 486 started using the road when it was introduced in 2001.

TfL is cutting back frequencies on the 486 at most times of the day from Saturday, although it is increasing them slightly during weekday morning peak hours.

Documents submitted to the Silvertown Tunnel planning hearing in 2016 showed TfL planning a service between Grove Park and Canary Wharf via Charlton Church Lane and the proposed tunnel, which would run four buses per hour.

  • Either Sainsbury’s or Asda in Charlton could be placed at risk of closure this week when a competition report into the merger of the two supermarket giants is released. The Competition and Markets Authority is expected to recommend the closure of a number of stores if it allows the tie-up between the two chains to go ahead. Yesterday’s Mail on Sunday claimed the merger may not go ahead if the CMA recommends closing more than 170 stores. A provisional report is expected this week, with a full report due this April.


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    TfL bus cuts: Route 486 to North Greenwich to be less frequent from 23 February

    Route 486
    Route 486 was used for 4.5 million journeys last financial year

    Transport for London has confirmed plans to reduce the frequency of bus route 486, which links Charlton with North Greenwich station.

    From Saturday 23 February, the service – which is frequently full to standing and suffers from buses terminating early – will run every 10 minutes during weekday daytimes and every 12 minutes on Saturdays, instead of every eight minutes as now.

    However, TfL has told The Charlton Champion that it will increase frequencies on busier weekday morning journeys.

    TfL confirmed full details about the changes on Tuesday afternoon:

    • Introduction of two journeys during Monday to Friday morning peak hours from Bexleyheath to North Greenwich, increasing the frequency from 7.5 to 8 buses per hour during the busiest hour in the morning peak
    • Reduction of Monday to Friday daytime frequency from every 8 minutes to every 10 minutes (7.5 to 6 buses per hour)
    • Reduction of Saturday daytime frequency from every 8 minutes to every 12 minutes (7.5 to 5 buses per hour)
    • Reduction of Sunday and evening frequency from every 12 minutes to every 15 minutes (5 to 4 buses per hour)
    • There is no change to the weekend–only night service at this time

    The news, first revealed in a bus enthusiasts’ newsletter published last week, comes just days before the east Greenwich Ikea opens on the route, with a planning agreement compelling to the furniture giant to advise customers to take public transport.

    It also comes as mayor Sadiq Khan – who is also chairman of TfL – is poised to approve plans for 771 new homes from developer Rockwell off Anchor and Hope Lane, also on the 486 route.

    A proposal to scrap the weekend overnight service on the route – which meets Night Tube trains on the Jubilee Line – is on hold, the London Omnibus Traction Society reported.

    Financial problems at TfL

    There has been no consultation on the cut, which is part of a new contract for bus company Go-Ahead London to run the service. Currently, the route – between North Greenwich station and Bexleyheath shopping centre – is run with 16 vehicles at peak times. The new contract specifies just 14 buses.

    In 2017/18 the route saw 4.5m passengers – the most since its inception in 2001. While North Greenwich station is the major destination for many passengers, it is also well used for the Charlton retail parks, Charlton station and Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It also serves the massive new St Mary Magdalene school on Greenwich Peninsula.

    The frequency cut is the latest in a number of planned cutbacks to local bus services. Last year, this website revealed plans to trim route 53 back from Whitehall to Lambeth North, while route 180 is due to be rerouted from Lewisham to North Greenwich when Crossrail opens, slashing the number of buses between Woolwich and Greenwich town centres. Route 472, another North Greenwich service, is also due to suffer a service reduction at the same time.

    TfL’s director of public transport service planning, Geoff Hobbs, told The Charlton Champion on Monday: “We constantly review and reorganise the bus network to modernise bus travel in London. This makes sure that Londoners’ fares are efficiently used with buses serving areas they are needed most and reduces bus-on-bus congestion.

    “The changes to the frequency of route 486 reflect its varied demand during different parts of the day and week. We are increasing frequencies to the busiest weekday morning journeys to respond to the higher demand and are reducing its frequency when there is less demand. This will ensure our network is efficiently run and that buses are running where they are needed most.”

    “We are aware of new developments in the area and are always reviewing our services to adapt to changes and, if needed, we will make further changes accordingly.“

    TfL is currently facing a financial crisis on three fronts. It is primarily caused by the loss of its grant, signed off by previous mayor Boris Johnson, but has also lost some income because of current mayor Sadiq Khan’s partial fare freeze and the ongoing delay in finishing Crossrail.


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