Olympic travel latest: Southeastern timetable out, 286 bus cut

If you’re planning on taking a train during the Olympics, Southeastern has released its Olympic and Paralympic timetables, which confirm draconian service cuts for many stations around venues in Greenwich and Woolwich.

As first revealed by this website 14 months ago, Woolwich Dockyard station will be completely closed, with Deptford and Westcombe Park losing two-thirds of their services. Maze Hill will lose Kent-bound trains in the morning and London-bound trains in the afternoon and evenings, while Kidbrooke trains will be cut to four per hour.

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.

It’s worth pointing out that mainline services near the Olympic Park itself, which will see crowds far in excess of what Greenwich and Woolwich will see, are not suffering such steep cuts, with just Maryland station at the north end of Stratford closing for the Games.

Don’t go looking for details of those services on TfL’s lousy Get Ahead of the Games site, though – they’re not on there, although they have belatedly added our own service cutbacks.

Full bus service details are still to be worked out, but this lengthy TfL document covers the current situation clearly and with maps, as well. There are few surprises compared with how things were the last time they were covered here, with plenty of extra buses on services including the 53, 108, 177 and 188.

But there’s a nasty surprise if you use the 286, which links Greenwich with Blackheath, Kidbrooke, Eltham and Sidcup. That service is being reduced from six to five buses per hour because of the diversion buses will have to make in Greenwich. (Ironically, this is what Greenwich Council suggested TfL do permanently to make room for its now-shelved pedestrianisation project.)

Route 129 is also running a reduced service, but will be uprated to double deckers to compensate. No such help is available for 286 users, on a single-deck bus which is regularly full to the rafters at rush hour. Apparently the bus is single-deck because of trees in Rochester Way, Eltham – maybe if Greenwich Council got some chainsaws out, TfL could get hold of some double-deckers? Just a thought.

Finally, above are the stats for people reaching this website via search engines on Monday. They were roughly the same on Tuesday. Sometimes I fret I’m talking nonsense and I’d be better off outside the off-licence shouting at the bins, but yes, it really does look like Greenwich Council has made a balls-up of telling people about Olympic parking permits.

But finally, today (Wednesday) should see us able to get information and apply for parking permits at www.2012gamesparkingpermits.com. If you live in an area roughly bounded by Deptford Church Street, Lee High Road and Plumstead Common, it’s worth a look, whether you drive or not.


  1. Parking permit registration process suspiciously speedy and simple. Cannot possibly be being managed by Greenwich Council.

  2. Well, I’ve just tried to apply for visitors pakring permits for the games period. I assumed these would be permits that would be sent out in the post but I fear not. On registration, the comment received was “Your vehicle registration was successful. You are now also registered for visitors’ parking permits. To activate a permit when your visitor arrives, please click on the Book a visitor button, found at the top left corner of this screen. You will now need to note down your permit refernce number (profided above) to do this.”

    Now I could not find this Book a visitor button. Perhaps it will come live when the games starts. However more important, this means accessing the internet which not everyone has to get these tickets on the day of arrival of the visitor. I wonder if anyone else has the same understanding.

  3. I can’t believe I just read this… you’re asking Greenwich Council to cut some trees down / back, for a double-decker bus? And these would be what, trees that have been there for maybe 20 or 50 years, to be slashed for a few weeks’ advantage?
    There are many better solutions than that. Like reinstating the 286 timetable, for a start.
    Ironically, I was visiting 853 to see if you’d written yet about the large trees at the corner of Vanbrugh Hill and Trafalgar Road, whch have just been axed, supposedly to make room for the supposedly green new development there.
    Asking Greenwich Council to cut down trees is dangerous – they might actually do it.

  4. Actually, now just received email confirming that visitors permits will arrive with games parking permits which leaves this question in my mind. RBG say current residential permits are valid – so why will I receive a specific games permit. Does every holder of residents permits need to apply for a games permit – hum hum the saga continues.

  5. Franklin – other blogs are available if you think this one’s rubbish, or if you make the mistake of thinking I’m personally affected by everything I highlight.

    Fiona – it happens more than you’d think. When the 422 was extended to North Greenwich in 1999, trees on Westcombe Hill were (and still are) cut back. Of course, it’d be easier to find another bus (and driver…)

    The parking permit registration process doesn’t recognise me. Bah. LOCOG’s PDF clearer than the Council’s, though.

  6. Trees along part of the 286 have been allowed to become overgrown since the route went to single deck in the late 80s – no need to do the maintenance. Trimming them back is not the same as cutting them down, it’s done (or should be) wherever double deckers run, and they are needed on the 286.

  7. Darryl –

    Your apparently instinctive reaction to tell readers who disagree with points you make to “go away” is not very conducive to a public debate. I don’t see anything in your comments policy about “Do not take the mickey out of the blogger”.

    My recycling of your phrase “unforgivably self-indulgent” was not intended to imply that you use the 286, but that you’re indulging – whether intentionally or not – in an exaggeration of the impact of these short-term transport difficulties.

  8. I hope it pisses down with rain for the whole Olympics. 13 billion quid its beyond a joke. I will make no concessions for the damn thing.

  9. Malcolm – this all sounds bizarre. No reference to “booking in” visitors in any publicity.

    Fiona – Sorry, forgot to mention the old hospital trees. They’ve been done elsewhere and there’s little new I can add, but I’m watching and in touch with people.

    Franklin – Steady, now. Are you sure me trying to highlight an issue that *will* affect people is “unforgivably self-indulgent”?

    Ned – Of course, and the old double decker 286 used to smash through some old branches on Westcombe Hill too… I’m feeling my age.

    Please keep opinions and experiences of trains, buses and parking coming.

  10. Darryl –

    I don’t think that the reduction in the 286 from six to five buses per hour – extending the waiting time from 10 to 12 minutes – is going to come as “a nasty surprise” to anyone. I think that most people are expecting some disruption, and a two-minute-longer wait for the bus isn’t a shocker.

    I also agree with Fiona that cutting back trees in order to be able to lay on double-decker buses for the three weeks of the Games is an appalling idea.

    The Olympics are going to cause some disruption and headaches. The closure of The Avenue a month earlier than planned has already led to morning and evening rush hour gridlock and massive rat-running on the roads around the Park.

    But we need to try to address these very real problems – and find workable solutions where possible – and not make mountains out of molehills.

  11. Sorry, I am really shocked about most of the comments. I live in Vienna and will be at the Games (equestrian events). I hope the people will be friendly and polite as I know all the British people I met before. All the discussions are really funny: In Vienna will the main tube be closed for six weeks, no Games, no Event! And no talking about the work. It’s necessary, ok, we will find another way to work. We will have to wait a little bit longer. But we don’t worry! Everybody is happy to be host for great events, like the EURO 2008 or Olympic Games in Innsbruck or cultural events. But not such a ridiculous discussion as I read in this topic. Still happy to come to Greenwich Park in July!

  12. Franklin,

    Since you’re taking Darryl up on the subject of “public debate”, can you perhaps clarify what you would call “very real problems” and what kind of “workable solutions” you’d suggest?

    For what it’s worth:

    Given how very few people I know are able to reduce their commuting during the Olympics by any means, I’m left wondering just how many of us are going to be left without any sane transport options during the Games and how we’re going to adapt.

    I don’t know about you, but the prospect of a 3-hour journey in place of any of my usual 1 hour journeys is making quite a big difference to how I’m planning my time during the Games. I’ve said here before that the bundle of planned transport-related service cuts and alterations essentially rules out any commitment I might have made towards volunteering time to any Olympics-related events – even those run by my employer. It also likely rules out any non-work-related activity that I can’t do while I’m in transit between home and work. So I might get some more reading done or music listened to. I might even catch up on the many hours of podcasts clamouring for my attention.

    I really want to enjoy the Games and all the colour, life and pizzazz they’ll bring to a great city. But due to where I happen to live and work, I’m just going to have to take what I can get and try not to get too worked up about what I can’t do, whether that’s getting to work on time or getting home in good time to spend time enjoying the Olympics with my family, friends and neighbours. I’ve yet to meet anyone in my workplace or social life who feels much differently to that, except those who live within 10mins walk of their workplace.

  13. Ernst – you’re witnessing a very British phenomena. People bellyache like mad (on the internet, in the pub etc) about loads of things that disrupt their humdrum lives. The Olympics, the weather, wildcat strikes, the government, the opposition, the NHS, burst watermains etc but these same people are unfailingly polite and helpful to visitors! Brits have to moan about something!

    Darryl – I got the same response as Malcolm, IE you have to ‘book in’ visitors.

    I assume this is to prevent you flogging your permit to someone who then comes and goes as they please having secured guaranteed parking close to all the events.

    Also, as well as helping us folk out with your research (which is thoroughly appreciated BTW) you could always have a wander down to the corner of Delafield and join in with the dreadlocked chap having a shout at no-one in particular!

    It may be therapeutic….;-)

  14. Chris (Ferguson) –

    A one-hour commute (for a Greenwich resident) becoming a three-hour commute as a result of Olympics disruptions in the Borough would certainly be a “real problem”. I’m no expert and get a lot of my info about the impact of the Games on local transport from this blog – or at least the links that Darryl provides – but I can at least try to suggest a workable solution, if you tell me where you commute from/to.

  15. @ Ernst – if you cut down any trees we’ll kick the shit out of you, alright?

  16. I just registered for my visitor permits for Greenwich CPZ. Quite easy, surprisingly. Immediately received an email with an attached letter, which includes the following:

    “Visitors’ parking permits

    You will receive two reusable visitors’ parking permits for use during the Games which will
    arrive with your 2012 Games parking permit. Visitors’ parking permits will allow your visitors
    to park within your zone in the RBPPA during the Games.

    Your visitors’ parking permits must be displayed in their vehicle during the operational
    period. Please make sure you retrieve the parking permit before your visitor leaves, as you
    will need it for your next guest.”

    Simples! *Too* simples…

  17. I will admit to being rather amused by the over-reaction to the idea of pruning low hanging branches on the 286 route to allow double deckers to pass along the route once more. The 286 (and 132 for that matter) justify double deckers at any time these days, not just during the Olympics. How on earth do you think double deck buses get around London if it isn’t for a little prudent arboreal maintenance? No-one’s suggesting letting Her Royal Majesty’s Royal Borough of Royal Greenwich loose on some kind of tree apocalypse.

  18. Ned: *His* Royal Majesty’s Royal… c’mon, keep up sir.

    Chris: I’m also happy to try to suggest workable solutions. If anyone else is in a similar spot of bother, maybe we could have a big travel-solving post.

  19. Thanks for your site. I am building a simple site of all of the 600+ stations in London, and access issues as I find them. I will add your site later on my useful links page, so keep this sort of detail coming, I think it’s great.
    I noted you mention Maryland is to close, I cannot find this detail anywhere else as of yet.

  20. Chris: “I really want to enjoy the Games and all the colour, life and pizzazz they’ll bring to a great city. But due to where I happen to live and work, I’m just going to have to take what I can get and try not to get too worked up about what I can’t do, whether that’s getting to work on time or getting home in good time to spend time enjoying the Olympics with my family, friends and neighbours. I’ve yet to meet anyone in my workplace or social life who feels much differently to that, except those who live within 10mins walk of their workplace.”

    Completely agree. Soho Square worker myself. Completely expecting my simple Maze Hill to Charing Cross journey to be effed up. Asked my MD about it the other week and he doesn’t want to harass people for not getting into work on time. What can he do?! We are all at the mercy of Southeastern and TfL.

    We can do no more laddie!

  21. Lara ……We are all at the mercy of LOCOG actually, they are calling all the shots as I understand it

  22. Nope, this has been Southeastern’s decision.

    Lara – I think you’ll be better off than many others, to be honest. At least you aren’t travelling from Westcombe Park or Deptford.

  23. Darryl – I agree, I am in a better situation than others. It is so frustrating to see that Southeastern are spitting on the residents of Westcombe Park, Deptford and Woolwich Dockyard. Really hoping Southeastern becomes London Overground come 2014.

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