Longer trains are ‘much-needed relief’ for Southeastern commuters

Greenwich Conservative Councillors have welcomed the announcement of 68 extra carriages for the Southeastern network, providing an additional 5,000 seats during the morning peak.

The move means that commuters on the Bexleyheath, Sidcup and Woolwich lines will see a number of peak-time trains lengthened from eight to 10 carriages, with some six-car trains lengthened to eight. The new carriages will be rolled out between later this month and November.

Announcing the move, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said that the decision “will see an extra 5,000 seats for passengers on Southeastern on services into London in the morning rush hour period – bringing immediate benefits to many commuters.”

In May, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited Eltham to discuss the future of the network with Greenwich Conservatives Leader Matt Hartley, giving assurances that delivering longer trains was a top priority for the Department for Transport.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “Today’s announcement offers some much-needed relief for commuters on all of the lines that run through our borough. When I met with Chris Grayling in Eltham earlier this year, he was very clear that delivering longer trains was one of his top priorities. I am pleased to see the government is delivering on this commitment.

“In the longer term, however, we still need to see fundamental change in the way our train services are run. Southeastern has had enough chances to improve – and it’s time to take the radical step of handing Transport for London control of the franchise when it comes up for renewal from December 2018. We will continue to make the case for this change.”

Councillor Matt Clare, Greenwich Conservatives Transport Spokesperson, said: “As local Conservative councillors we have been campaigning for improvements to Southeastern services for years, and we will continue to push for the radical changes we need to see as the new franchise is designed. In the meantime, these extra carriages will go some way to relieving the rush-hour crush.”

In the most recent consultation on the future of Southeastern services, local Conservative councillors strongly opposed any suggestion that Bexleyheath line stations should serve one central London terminal only, and re-iterated their view that control of the franchise should be handed to Transport for London.