Seeing out the old – goodbye London, it’s been fun

Well, it’s been fun, but after over 120 years of being part of the world’s greatest city, it looks like South East London will start 2010 seceding from the rest of the capital. A bit like the Principality of Sealand, perhaps, with marginally better transport links.

Who says? Well, ask the mayor…

“Always remember that London is the greatest place, and never forget that we are offering free transport from your party from 11.45pm to 4.30am. Public transport in London is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful New Year’s Eve party, being, as it is, the cleanest, greenest, and safest way to get around our fantastic city.”

Except… it isn’t free for us. Boris has canned free travel on London’s mainline trains, reportedly saving the mayor £100,000. So that New Year message can’t be aimed at us. Boris has clearly washed his hands of us. The border signs will go up at the Elephant & Castle at midnight.

“National Rail services will be operating but passengers will have to pay to travel on them, although the cost of a day return ticket to London will be only marginally above the cost of an outward-only single. This is contrary to previous years when TfL has subsidised them and travel was free.

“Given the wider economic situation, TfL is committed to finding £5 billion in savings by 2017, and this is just one of the measures which will help achieve that aim.”

Which is slightly different from the jolly New Year message above. Still, I wonder if Boris will have the gall to project himself onto the side of a building like he did last year?

So, as the Independent City of South-East London – let’s call it Greater Charlton for now – gets set to break free from the Boris yoke, let’s just get confirmation that the trains won’t be free.

On Southeastern’s website…

And at Waterloo East station…

So it’s… hold on, what did that say at Waterloo East again? “Courtesy of Transport for London, Southeastern will run FREE after-midnight train services.” Huh? And Southeastern haven’t got a fat felt tip and crossed that bit out?

And let’s go to the Evening Standard’s excellent deputy political editor, Paul Waugh

Which figures, of course, because ticket inspectors after 11pm on Southeastern on any night, let alone a busy one, are as rare as rocking horse shit. Some might say that Boris witholding money to make up for fares that the mainline rail firms had no intention of collecting anyway is wise economics. It certainly looks as if Southeastern were expecting him to pony up the cash as usual when they went to the printers.

But with these government-backed private monpolies holding the whip hand in Boris’s past negotiations with them – see the crap deal he’s given us with Oyster, with south London families paying more than west London’s for children’s fares – it doesn’t set an encouraging precedent for the provision of all-night mainline trains for New Year’s Eve 2010, something which is only a recent phenonemon.

So it’s all a big muddle, which seems like business as usual after all. So maybe we’ll have to put those indpendence plans on hold. Looks like we’re lumbered with the rest of London for a couple more years yet…

Thanks to Southeastern-watcher Bexcentric for the Waterloo East spot.


  1. If you live in “greater Charlton” why wouldn’t you take the tube to North Greenwich and get one of the plethora of buses that go to Charlton from there? Or walk?

  2. That of course works on the assumption that the Jube will be running as it should. Experience tells me not to get your hopes up, although it would be nice to have it running properly- just once. Buses are another kettle of fish. I may be wrong but I thought the only buses from NG going to Greater Charlton on NYE were the 161 and the 53 so some early morning walking will surely be involved. That’s part of the fun.

    I like the way TFL and Southeastern worked together to put out a coherent and consistent message to the public.

  3. I still have the Waterloo East poster photo saved on my phone and will be showing it to any ticket inspectors who do turn up tonight (i.e. to nobody).

    Very interesting to see the justification for not funding free NYE travel is that the cost of a return on National Rail within is only a tiny bit more than the cost of a single. Not from this Saturday it isn’t!

  4. I have no idea where that “within” came from. Oh yes I do, I was going to say “within greater London” and forgot to finish adding it. Whoops.

    Just noticed Paul Waugh doesn’t mention London Bridge in his list of likely-gateless stations tonight. Hopefully that’s for summary’s sake rather than because I’m going to arrive there, find a ring of steel between me and the trains and end up on an N21+96 bus adventure instead…

  5. Returns cost only fractionally more than the singles people will buy to get into London, 50p or £1 more in many cases. Given that many people will probably be spending £50 or more anyway its a drop in the ocean.

    Still, nothing like a bit of hot air from the Boris bashers to warm the heart over this festive period 🙂

  6. The 161 and 422 are running all night from North Greenwich tonight, in addition to the usual night buses on the 108, 188 and 472.

    There’s also buses on the 51, 96, and 178 in and around Woolwich, and the 208, 261 and 436 around Lewisham.

    Cropstar – if Boris isn’t stumping up funding for these trains this year, why should private businesses like Southeastern run them next year?

  7. Darryl, the train companies would never do that as there would be genuine public outrage then.

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