Southeastern’s Olympic cuts: Mayor Boris isn’t bothered

This crept out while I was on my travels. On one hand, it’s amazing nobody’s made a big deal of this. On the other hand… maybe not.

Greenwich and Lewisham’s London Assembly member, Len Duvall, put a question to the Mayor of London last month about the proposed rail cuts through Deptford, Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich and Kidbrooke during next summer’s Olympics.

Here’s the answer from Boris Johnson, elected advocate for the capital city in which we live.

I am not responsible for Southeastern’s train planning during the Olympics (or indeed at any other time)… Southeastern believe it [sic] will still provide a good level of service sufficient for commuters. It has been consulting stakeholders about the timetable. It will investigate whether it is able to make changes as a result of the feedback received, including that from London TravelWatch which says that some of the suggestions are ‘unacceptable’.

So, even with an election coming up, our mayor really doesn’t seem to give a damn about a key element of what’s going to be one of London’s biggest challenges next year – keeping ordinary Londoners happy while the Olympics are on. While Boris doesn’t have legal responsibility for Southeastern, TfL is certainly the biggest “stakeholder” in the whole process – if Southeastern’s plans go wrong, the mayor will cop a load of the flak.

Two political questions spring to mind. After all, we’ve an election next year.

Local Conservatives – are you really happy to see your mayor shrug off concerns about public transport during the Olympics?

Local Labour types – why aren’t you making a big deal of Boris’s lack of interest? What would Ken Livingstone do instead?

Greenwich and Woolwich’s Labour MP Nick Raynsford is due to meet Southeastern bosses this week to discuss their plans. He’s already called the proposals unduly disruptive.


  1. Saw this a while ago and have been too busy to make anything of it. Thanks for bring it to wider attention.

    Interestingly, John Cooper and two other SouthEastern managers at May’s Meet the Manager in Cannon Street agreed that the timetables are being foisted on them by the Games authorities. They sympathised with the needs and feelings of SE Londoners and said they would feed this back to the service planning committees – but they didn’t want to be pushed on whether they *agreed* with our feelings, nor whether they would be able to make a difference.

  2. The commitments given to Londoners throughout the Olympic bidding process was that the disruption to the travelling public would be minimal. The disruption to train timetables is a shambles and must be rectified. No surprise about Boris,he cares little about most things. What is required in the longer term that the powers of the Mayor should be extended to include all public transport operating in London and those powers should include determining frequency.

  3. John, totally agree.

    It’s a surreal (and undemocratic) situation where the elected Mayor of London has such limited control of London’s public services.

  4. John,

    Afraid what you propose won’t happen for the time being. Shareholders are far more important than the travelling public and you can’t have elected representatives poking their noses in…..

  5. Ken Livingstone did push for a “London Rail Authority”, but the last Labour government blocked him and he had to make do with the old Silverlink lines – now London Overground.

    The trouble is that a) both Labour and Conservatives love privatised rail and b) London politics is hopelessly Tube-centric. I’ve just had a press release from the Greens about problems topping up Oysters which appears to blame the extension of the system onto National Rail for the problems. It shows even “nice” parties don’t even get it.

  6. Can someone please remind me what the Mayor of London’s remit and job description actually are, and to whom the position is accountable?

    Google is giving me nowt but spin from the quick lunch-hour checking I’ve done so far.

  7. […] 7. Reverse the Southeastern Olympic service cuts. The train company still plans to cut services at Deptford, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Woolwich Dockyard and Kidbrooke. If you’re telling people to take the fortnight off, and telling people to stay out of their cars, don’t make it more difficult for them to take trains to go about the rest of their business. The worst example of pig-headed idiocy in Olympics planning – and our mayor doesn’t seem to care. […]

  8. […] The restrictions will not only last during the Olympics (28 July-12 August) but they will also be reimposed during the more lightly-attended Paralympics (29 August-9 September). The timetable, opposed by both Greenwich and Lewisham councils as well as local MPs, was backed by the Government, while mayor Boris Johnson has declined to intervene. […]

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