Bromley's Lib Dem Councillors lobbied for improvements at the Public Transport Liaison Group Meeting held on 10th October. The meeting was attended by representatives from Southeastern, Network Rail, Transport for London, Stagecoach, GoAhead, a London Taxi and Private Hire representative - a great opportunity for Lib Dem Councillors to get stuck in on transport issues residents raise with us.
Rail Station Ticket Office Closures
The Southeastern presentation focussed on the recent proposal to close 40 ticket offices on the network and to reallocate the staff onto the stations themselves so they can be of assistance to passengers buying tickets on the machines or assisting customers with mobility problems or with young children and buggies to board safely. They said that this would not only help passengers but also give their staff more meaningful jobs, rather than being stuck in the ticket booth selling very few tickets. The ticket machines would all be upgraded so they can sell every type of ticket and extension, with former ticket office staff being on-hand to help.
The consultation has now closed and London Travel Watch is assessing the consultation and will make their recommendations
These stations were chosen as on average less than 6% of their daily ticket sales were through the ticket office, with most passengers tapping in by card or using ticket machines. Exceptions to this within Bromley borough with slightly higher percentages of tickets sold currently at a ticket office include Chelsfield where 10% of ticket sales are sold via the ticket office and Knockholt station 23% are still sold through the ticket office.
Assuming the ticket office closures are formally approved the ticket offices will be reused as staff space or could be released to the British Transport Police to use or used for community or retail purposes.
Councillor Ross explained that passengers are reluctant to support the change because there is no commitment from Southeastern to retain the same staffing numbers in each station. Southeastern advised that the intention is not to reduce staff, that in some locations they will increase staff, and they needed to work out how to reassure passengers.
Grove Park Station Connection Times
Cllr Ireland raised this issue of train connection times at Grove Park for residents who use the shuttle train from Bromley North though Sundridge Park to Grove Park. Southeastern apparently has a policy at this station where mainline London trains can be held for up to 5 minutes to ensure the connection is made. Please get in touch with us if connections at Grove Park from the Bromley North line is an issue for you.
Ticket Gate Lines
Adding ticket gate lines is a priority where Government funding allows, but of the 180 stations on the Southeastern network, only 40 currently have ticket 'gate lines'. These are useful in major stations such as Bromley South both for revenue protection for the operator but also for reducing anti-social behaviour. We support calls from local residents in Hayes that are campaigning for line barriers to reduce anti-social behaviour, it seems getting central government funding for them is difficult but we must keep up the pressure.
Network Rail oversees the track, signalling, telecoms and is the landowner of the stations themselves. The current five-year funding cycle for station improvements is coming to an end in 2024 having spent over £1.25 billion and a new tranche of funding is expected to be announced in due course, possibly as soon as November's Autumn Statement. Your Liberal Democrat Councillors will be campaigning for improvements in our borough - at the end of the meeting we put on record our residents’ priorities for our stations directly with the Network Rail Representative.
Trees on the line
Southeastern spoke to their new timetable and approach to deal with delays due to trees on the line. Cllr Ross pointed out to both Southeastern and Network Rail how incredulous residents along the Hayes Line are having had all the trees chopped down along the track by Network Rail (impacting privacy, noise and amenity in their gardens) to now find Southeastern are reducing services to deal with leaves on the line. Network Rail responded that the trees were culled for safety reasons, which was well known and not the point Cllr Ross was making.
Lifts at stations
Local stations including St Mary Cray, Petts Wood and Shortlands are already accessing these funds for step free access and installation of lifts to the platforms. Other stations in Bromley including Clock House and Kent House are on the long list for step free access improvement. Cllr Ross told Network Rail that Kent House should be prioritised as during disruption services are often terminated early at Kent House (as it has four platforms), and whilst this is fine if the next train comes in on the same platform, if it doesn’t it is very difficult for those with mobility issues to unexpectedly deal with the dark steep stairs between platforms).
Bromley South Station Improvements
Bromley South has now been earmarked for further funding to look at options for improving the station and reducing overcrowding. A feasibility study is already underway and consultation with local councillors and other interested parties should start in early 2024. The business case will be put together so Network Rail can ask the Department for Transport for additional funding to make these improvements. Bromley Town's Liberal Democrat Councillors will be following up directly with Network Rail to discuss these proposals.
Transport for London (TfL) Update
TfL spoke about the new improvements to our bus network, and their plan to roll out of the superloop express bus services
The two routes affecting Bromley are the following:
Whilst this is good news it does not make up for significant underinvestment by TfL into Bromley Borough. Cllr Ross challenged TfL on aspiration projects we want into the brough like the extension of the Tram Network and bringing the DLR to Bromley. TfL explained there was limited funds to develop new schemes like that. But Cllr Ross said that unless initiatives like these were put on a long-list they would never get considered or worked up as potential proposals. TfL agreed to look at this, but we are not hopeful.
Cllr Webber raised the long standing issue regarding the unauthorised use of the bus lane at Elmfield Road onto Kentish Way, raised at last year's meeting and still unresolved. He requested better enforcement and a camera on this site to reduce the risk to drivers and pedestrians on this busy junction - TfL conceded this was their responsibility and agreed to resolve it.
Please do get in touch with any bus, train or other transport concerns you might have so we can raise them in this setting or directly with Bromley Council officers.