As you may have noticed, it was rather hard to get home to south-east London last night.
A fire in signalling equipment at London Bridge saw all trains through the station cancelled at the beginning of the evening rush hour. The delays lasted beyond the rush hour and right to the end of the day.
I came through Charing Cross at 11pm and just managed to get a train back to Charlton which ran via Lewisham. Judging by the announcements telling people to use local buses, it seemed Southeastern had simply given up running a service on the other metro lines.
The disruption spread, and a perfect storm hit North Greenwich station – swamped by people bumped off Southeastern trains on the night of a gig at the O2, plus a Charlton Athletic home match. It’s chaotic enough on a normal night, but last night the police were called and the station was closed for a spell.
Everyone had their own story to tell. While a total wipeout of trains from London Bridge is rare, from 2015 there’ll be severe restrictions on mainline trains stopping at London Bridge as the station’s rebuilt for the Thameslink programme. Will North Greenwich be able to cope with the extra load?
Still, everyone caught in the disruption last night can be comforted by the fact that Greenwich Council, Boris Johnson and the owners of the O2 have the solution to everyone’s transport worries at North Greenwich. Yes, that’s right, they want to build a new road tunnel.
Oh, and don’t forget Boris Johnson’s other solution to our travel woes…
The future of our local transport is clearly in safe hands.
Can I point out that anyone who exited North Greenwich last night via the wide gates for the use of people with luggage or buggies may well be getting a penalty charge on their Oystercard as staff were observed using their staff passes to hold these gates open. Granted this was in an attempt to ease the congestion but it means that anyone using these gates will not have been “checked out” of the system on their oystercard. This message is sent to you in the aim of alerting people to this. For some reason you delete all my comments; I have no idea why. If you want to do so with this message then feel free but of course then none of your readers will be alerted to the penalty charge.
North Greenwich was really horrible at 5.30, and I imagine it only got worse. I think if it’s going to get busier there they may need to re-think how it’s staffed. More bus stops would help, but I suspect that ship has sailed, given they’ve not added any in the annual bus station closures over the last few years.
I have to say the staff at Cannon St were good last night – some signs that Southeastern may be getting slightly better at these things, perhaps. (Though I can’t help think that their new-found enthusiasm for Twitter may be related to them discovering they can use it to reinforce the message that “it’s Network Rail’s fault; not ours”….)
My job allows me to travel outside the normal commute hours so I missed all the uproar. But because I go to Charing Cross at other times I do see an awful lot of women from south London and north Kent who are obviously attending Guys/St Thomas’ for cancer treatment. When I call them the walking wounded some would not be on their feet without a kind companion to go with them. How are they going to manage their treatment without putting even more pressure on the hospital transport service once the scheduled chaos starts? I am sure many other outpatients for other conditions will have the same problems, it’s just I notice the cancer patients more than others.
Staff at Cannon Street were really good last night – good to finally see some proper customer service when things go wrong. I took the Thames Clipper, and luckily got on an earlier stop, as by London Bridge Pier the boat was full and was turning people away. Woolwich saw smaller-scale bus mayhem at Beresford Square. Most people didn’t realise if you wondered up the road the bus stops, and buses, were empty.
Not the most fun experience, and further proof that SE London suffers more than any other part of London when things go wrong. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Standard has to say about it all this evening…
Quick note to Maggie May. Maggie – I am not sure what the answer is to the plight of people travelling for treatment at Guys – but I do know it has been raised frequently with the railway. Last time we asked – that was a couple of weeks ago – we were told that they were working with Guys to set up a system. Hope they do!
A supplementary advisory is to check your journey history if you use a pay-as-you-go Oyster Card like me. There’s a time limit on journeys and you can end up being slapped with 2 penalty fares, in my case because by the time I’d got to Waterloo, having been stranded at Norwood junction for some time, the system classed the initial part of my journey as having no touch-out and the touch-out at Waterloo as having no start!
Don’t expect any support or publicity from the Beeb London ‘news’.
They devoted about seven minutes (with two live stand-ups and three interviews, two live) to the fact a ballot has been called for strikes on the Tube which may or may not happen next year. But everyone uses the Tube don’t they?
The entire rail network from Charing Cross, Cannon Street and London Bridge being shut down? 15 seconds.
In contrast to the staff at Cannon Street, the Southeastern staff at London Bridge were unhelpful. Also, it would have been very helpful if TfL staff could have alerted passengers to the problem BEFORE they went up the escalators. People exiting the Northern Line at London Bridge to catch a train to Greenwich etc. could have changed straight onto the Jubilee Line rather than coming up the escalators to street level and then queuing to get back down to the Jubilee Line.
18.20 North Greenwich Tube was closed and the crowds were large.Police (quite a few) were called due to scuffling, pushing and one or two proper fights as people tried to get on buses…they were jammed up. My 188 dropped us by the air/vent taxi stand.Saw all this as was in meeting in Mitre passage.By by 20.15 was like a normal rush hour except still heavy police presence and North Greenwich open again…got straight onto a 108 to East Greenwich without a problem.
Good work from Mary Mills but where are the MPs in all this? Not just Greenwich and Lewisham but right down the line? Surely someone somewhere must realise that the sick need access to two of the big London hospitals? Talks are all very well, but a proper plan would be a lot better.
Monday and Tuesday evening peaks were horrendous. Monday an A102/A2 southbound accident threw a blanket of stationary traffic backed up to tunnel and escaping on every possible route bringing the A206, B210 and A202 to a halt delaying bus users. Just imagine the additional traffic and pollution generated by Silvertown Link bringing two more southbound lanes onto A102/A2!
Tuesday was another example of poor resilience, but actually fault lies with the risk-averse Network Rail for their appalling communications with SE Trains who were told at 6 it was fixed when it clearly wasn’t. All very strange though as Fire Brigade have no record of being called out. what Greenwich needs is transport resilience so that if something goes down, extra buses swing into action and core bus routes get temporary bus priority measures.
I think most people at Cannon Street station forgot about the DLR. I just walked to the Bank DLR and got a direct train to lewisham, added only 15 minutes on my journey home.
Having been caught up in that, I’ve been looking for some kind of explanation. Thanks for your post. I guess it would only have appeared in the Standard if Rita Ora or Cara Delevingne had been delayed.
Hi Darryl: before the memory of this chaotic night fades completely from the memory, it is worth reminding people that, if they are Southeastern “customers”, they can make use of the online “Delay Repay” facility at http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/your-journey/delay-repay/
I’ve just had my claim settled. I got a full refund of that day’s return fare to London plus £20 “because your journey was severely delayed and as a gesture of goodwill”. Repayment is in the form of a voucher redeemable against the purchase of a Southeastern ticket.
Although the chaos was unacceptable, I’m feeling a bit (just a bit!) more charitable towards Southeastern! I assume any other claims – and there is still time to submit one – would be dealt with on a similar basis….
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