Charlton station garden gets boost from fund set up after Thameslink failures

Charlton station
Charlton station will have £30,000 spent on it

Charlton station’s community garden will benefit from money from a fund set up after Thameslink made a poor start to its rail services through the new London Bridge station three years ago.

The messed-up introduction of new cross-London trains saw services cancelled and Charlton left with a less frequent service for months after Thameslink began using the line.

Thameslink took over what used to be the Charing Cross to Gillingham service in May 2018, converting it to a Luton to Rainham service.

In 2019 the company was told to set up a £15 million Passenger Benefit Fund to improve stations and facilities Initially, Charlton and other Greenwich line stations were left out of the fund, but were included after lobbying from local MP Matt Pennycook. Even then, the fund’s existence was poorly publicised and had to be reopened after a government minister stepped in.

Yesterday, it emerged that the £30,000 allocated to Charlton will be spent on the community garden, a new waiting shelter on platform 2 and waiting shelter improvements on platform 1. Work should be completed by September.

The news was broken on social media by Pennycook, who said: “I’m pleased we’ve secured £220k for a range of improvements across six stations.” Other work to be carried out locally includes landscaping at Westcombe Park and passenger information systems at Maze Hill. Woolwich Dockyard is not served by Thameslink trains so is not included in the fund.


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Charlton to appear on the Tube map for the first time

Thameslink class 700 trains
Thameslink is back on the Tube map, bringing Charlton with it

Thameslink will be temporarily added to the Tube map to give customers more options during the pandemic – putting Charlton on the map for the first time.

Services within Zone 1 and Zone 6, as well as Dartford and Swanley, will be reintroduced to Tube maps from next month to aid social distancing on public transport and reduce the number of car journeys in the capital, Transport for London confirmed this morning.

The service will also provide alternatives during the planned closure of the Bank branch of the Northern Line during 2021 while upgrades are completed.

The two SE London Thameslink routes (to Rainham and Orpington/Sevenoaks) appear

Julie Dixon, Head of Customer Information and Partnerships at TfL, said: “In light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, and next year’s Northern line closures required to complete the Bank Upgrade works, Thameslink services have been temporarily included on the Tube map to help customers move around the city.

“This has been a complicated addition to make to the map, but one that we feel will benefit Londoners as part of our work to promote safe, clean and reliable public transport use across the city.”

The temporary change is expected to be in place until December 2021, but there are already calls to make the change permanent given the step-free access availability at many stations on the service.

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon said there would be “long term benefits” to showing Thameslink services on the Tube map.

Pidgeon said: “At peak times Thameslink’s frequency is set to reach 24 trains an hour, offering a similar service to most London Underground lines. The stations, with the exception of Elephant and Castle, are also fully accessible for disabled people throughout central London.”

Alison Moore, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, echoed this sentiment, calling the change an “essential addition” to the Tube map.

Moore said: “The Transport Committee recommended that Thameslink be added to the Tube map to help Londoners with disabilities because these trains are designed for accessibility first and foremost. It is time for TfL to keep Thameslink on the map permanently for better accessibility across the city.”

Although the updated Tube map will provide more options for travelling around London, people are still being advised to only travel when necessary, given the rise in Covid-19 infections and London’s move into Tier 3 restrictions.

Both TfL and Thameslink are reminding customers to plan ahead and travel at quiet times when possible.

Central London Thameslink services appeared on the Tube map when they were introduced in 1988, but were taken off in 1999.

LDRS logoJoe Talora is the Local Democracy Reporter for City Hall. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
See more about how The Charlton Champion uses LDRS content.

No trains through Charlton for next two weekends: 7-8 and 14-15 March

A train, seen on a weekday

There will be no trains through Charlton for the next two weekends as Network Rail is closing the line between Deptford and Plumstead for engineering works.

Despite the major closure, there has been little publicity about the works, which will affect fans this Saturday heading to Charlton Athletic’s match against Middlesborough – a team that traditionally brings a strong away following.

Two buses per hour will run between Lewisham and Plumstead, instead of the eight-train Saturday service and six-train Sunday timetable.

The Charlton Champion has asked Network Rail why the line is being closed and we’ll update this story when it responds. Update Wednesday: A Network Rail spokesperson would only say that the closure was “part of the Kent and South East London upgrade programme”. (see further update below)

There will be normal Jubilee line services to North Greenwich on the first weekend when the line through Greenwich is closed; however, on 14 and 15 March it will be closed between Waterloo and Stanmore, which is likely to mean a less-frequent service on the rest of the line. Docklands Light Railway services are also disrupted on 14 and 15 March, with no trains to Bank.

Disruption will also occur on Sunday 22 March, with no trains from Charlton before 9.15am and no Thameslink trains at all scheduled to run through the station.

The closures will cap a month of weekend service reductions on the line, with Thameslink services being reduced last Sunday despite The Big Half half-marathon taking place in Greenwich.

However, Charlton passengers will escape most of the disruption at Easter, when all lines through Hither Green will be closed as part of a major signalling project.

Friday update: Network Rail belatedly sent us an update yesterday to say the works will “lay nearly a kilometre of new track, sleepers and ballast on the line”.

“The work will allow the removal of speed restrictions which have been put in place because of worn out track, helping to speed up trains, reduce delay and give passengers smoother, more reliable journeys. Closing the line during the weekend means that the work can be done safely, in less time.”

“Fiona Taylor, Route Director, Kent. Network Rail said:

“‘While infrastructure faults are down by 30 per cent on this part of the network, we know that even a minor incident in this incredibly congested area will have a major impact on the train service. That’s why our upgrade work is so important to ensuring trains run reliably.

“‘We know it’s inconvenient for passengers when we close the railway and would like to thank them for their patience while we do this important work. Most of the network is open as usual but please check your journey before travelling.'”


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