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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No trains from Charlton this weekend, 25/26 January

Train at London Bridge station
Getting to London Bridge will be more difficult this weekend

Just in case you were planning to go somewhere this weekend, Network Rail engineering works mean there are no trains at all from Charlton, Westcombe Park or Woolwich Dockyard on Saturday and Sunday.

Trains (including Thameslink trains) will be running via Blackheath and Bexleyheath instead. Two replacement buses an hour are running from Lewisham to Plumstead, with a similarly infrequent train service between Plumstead and Dartford.

A normal service will run on the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway.

Maddeningly, the rail closure had coincided with a London derby at The Valley – but Charlton Athletic’s match with Fulham, which had been scheduled for Saturday, was brought forward to tonight after the Cottagers won their third-round FA Cup tie earlier this month.

The closure comes ahead of the major works which will close the Bexleyheath line during the February half-term week, which will see busier trains through Charlton for nine days, as well as some extra services such as peak-hour trains to Victoria. More information at bexleyheathline.co.uk.


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The train arriving seven months late: Thameslink belatedly boosts weekday service at Charlton

Thameslink class 700 trains
A slightly less unusual sight from December – but don’t go banking on weekend trains

Charlton is due to get its full weekday train service back in December – seven months after the botched introduction of Thameslink services resulted in many trains to Kent being deleted from the timetable.

Changes to rail services in May saw the long-established Charing Cross to Gillingham trains operated by Southeastern replaced by two Thameslink trains per hour from Luton, St Pancras, Farringdon, Blackfriars and London Bridge to Rainham, one stop further down the line.

This followed the huge project to revamp London Bridge station to allow for extra services between north and south London.

While the service provided new links to north London and beyond, poor planning meant that many of the new trains did actually materialise. In July the service was cut back to to hourly to allow Thameslink to train drivers on the new routes – slashing the links to Dartford and beyond and leaving gaps in the timetable to central London.

Now the company, which operates a contract on behalf of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, says the full weekday service will now be introduced in its winter timetable from 9 December – meaning Charlton should be up to its full complement of eight trains each hour once again.

Thameslink trains will run half-hourly to Rainham between 0604 and 2234, with two final trains at 2304 and 2334 terminating at Gillingham. Trains call at Westcombe Park two minutes earlier.

Heading to central London and beyond, Thameslink trains to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, St Pancras and West Hampstead Thameslink will run half-hourly from 0540 to 2310, stopping at Westcombe Park two minutes later.

Most will run onto Luton – handy for the airport – although many will be skipping the useful north London stop at Kentish Town.

Weekend rail woe

However, the weekend trains remain at a miserly hourly frequency for the time being, mostly only running as far north as Kentish Town.

Thameslink says: “The weekend timetable will continue in its current format for now, with more services planned by May 2019.

“Our current simplified weekend timetable means engineering work alterations can be overlaid in a shorter than usual timeframe. There is every intention of returning to normal industry agreed timescales and both planning teams in Thameslink Railway and Network Rail continue to work to achieve this as quickly as possible.”

Full timetables – for Thameslink trains only – can be found at thameslinkrailway.com.


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