Hi, does anyone know what happened to the train that used to run from London Bridge to Victoria via Forest Hill and Crystal Palace? It was a very slow train but used to be half hourly and I commuted on it every day. It seems to have disappeared since COVID. Is it coming back?
Forest Hill To Victoria Train
Yes it hasn’t been running for months now since Covid. Have to go to Crystal Palace and change there for another train.
If ever there’s an easy route to be cancelled to save money/time for Southern it’s always that line! It’s about time they brought the service back now because public transport levels are up to just below pre-Covid levels based on my commute into London the past few months.
Also the orbital routes are exactly where connections are so poor - you mostly have to go in and out of town to get across town. Or most people will drive. The South Circular is a joke. I loved that Victoria train - so useful, even if it was slow.
Yes it was a great train - long slow commute but nice and spacious. I now go via Croydon which is nowhere near as convenient. Is there any official word on this from Southern or TFL?
Yes it would definitely be good if TfL introduced some buses that go from SE to SW. I know there’s the 185 but that goes up through town, would be good to be able to get across to Streatham/Wandsworth/Clapham/Victoria especially if they keep insisting on stopping this route. Unless there’s one I don’t know of?
I hadn’t worked out this had stopped. I also used it for my commute. I really hope this isn’t a permanent fixture partly because I need to go to Victoria and partly because it means half the trains for London Bridge. When I first moved here there was an evening train direct from Charing Cross but since then. The service got worse and this would be a really bad development. That train was normally standing room only from gipsy hill In the mornings so it wasn’t an unused service in rush hour!
Even pre-COVID, if I wasn’t on my bike, I found it quicker to go to Denmark Hill/Peckham Rye by bus and get a train to Victoria or Overground to Clapham Junction. Admittedly, I’m just the other side of the Horniman so 15 minutes walk down to the station which factored in. Or I cut through Dulwich Woods to Sydenham Hill and take the train to Victoria from there.
Outside term time, the P4 and swap to a 35/345 on route for Clapham. But traffic can be horrendous.
If the service is not reinstated the change of train from the Overground to the Southern service to Victoria and vice versa could be made much easier.
At the moment the Overground terminates in platform 5 which made sense when the through service was still running: both services towards Forest Hill left from adjacent platforms and there were no conflicting movements of the trains.
Both those benefits are now longer there so platform 3 could be used to terminate the Overground service.
The benefit to passengers would be changing on level coming from Victoria and a lot less steps accessing platform 1 when going to Victoria.
Crystal Palace must have a record beating footbridge for height.
I don’t know if it’s coming back but I really hope it will - I took this train almost every day to work just because it was quiet enough to get a seat and read/write on my way in.
I think the Overground terminates on platform 5 so that passengers can sit on the train until it departs. It is the same at West Croydon. The Overground train uses the terminus platform and passengers can get on and wait instead of the stampede that used to occur before!
I am also missing the Victoria service too as I’ve always used it when making a regular journey to Hampshire as I find changing onto South Western Railways at Clapham Junction so much easier when I’ve got luggage than changing at Canada Water and Waterloo. And as others have mentioned I always get a seat. I know there are lifts at Crystal Palace but it’s still a hassle changing there and due to mobility issues I can’t risk getting there to find one of the lifts is out of action as with arthritis in both knees trying to manage all the steps with luggage is difficult and painful.
Southern are bringing in a new timetable from Monday 7th September so I was hopeful that this would include the reinstatement of the Victoria service but alas that isn’t the case. It’s not even mentioned as one of the services that still isn’t running! However there’s been quite a few people asking when the service will be reinstated on Southern’s twitter feed and from the responses it looks unlikely it will be reinstated before the December 15th timetable change if even then!
Sherwood. An overground train would terminate in platform 3 just like it does at the moment in platform 5. It would wait there before it departs.
You could sit on it before it departs as you do now.
I have also just tweeted after I did a national rail search for that journey for next Tuesday which is when I next need to go to the office in Victoria. And as you say, no direct train. I don’t understand how they can just take a route off without any consultation, if this is to be a permanent change. But it does mean it will be southeastern who are getting my fare from now on (just as they did when you couldn’t change over at London Bridge a few years ago) in days when its not practical to cycle. Very disappointed about how much degradation of the southern service there has been. Sigh.
Victoria is a lovely cycle… Dulwich Park, past the Velodrome, Herne Hill then Railton Road is closed to traffic all the way up to Brixton. Head on to Stockell (bus lanes), Vauxhall, the Bridge has a segregated bike lane then up to Victoria. Quite an easy fun ride.
Absolutely . Been doing it since I moved out here in 2008 - bought a Brompton to take on the train and then realised it was easy just to do the whole journey by bike and cut out the ‘middle train’! It’s my main plan for return to the office but won’t be possible every time I go in so still need the train!
I’d be surprised if it’s permanent as all the railway companies are still operating a reduced service. The Southern East Croydon - Milton Keynes service hasn’t been restored yet either.
My guess is that they cancel the trains where the political representation is the least effective.
I started volunteering at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in Victoria a few weeks ago and felt like a complete tool waiting for the Victoria to FH train. The station staff member I asked about this service looked at me as if I was a loon, letting me know it was not running and had not been for a while. LOVED this service, is a nice relaxing long train home to decompress from the day. Fingers crossed it comes back, I loved watching doggos at Battersea playing in the yard as you roll by on the train
I hope it is temporary too. I commute via Clapham Junction, so 2 trains will now be 3…
This is what I got back from southern twitter service:
Good afternoon, we’re working on restoring these set of services as soon as we can. It depends on the impact of coronavirus, but we are planning towards reintroduction in the next timetable change; Monday 15th December
So hopefully it will be back…
But another 3 months away! That’s a long time to wait for those of you who need this route for your commute. I’m going into Central London for the first time since February tomorrow afternoon and need to get to Victoria. I was originally going to get the 185 but with the gas works on Waldram Park Road and the diversion northbound due to the part closure of Vauxhall Bridge I’ve decided the best option will be to get a Forest Hill - East Croydon train and change onto a Victoria train there as at least there are a lot more trains to Victoria if one looks too full for my liking!
Bus to Denmark Hill, Overground to Clapham Junction, train to Victoria.
(or 30 mins by bike )
Thanks @Clausy. With 2 arthritic knees cycling is not an option and probably not advisable for anyone hoping to have a few or more glasses of wine before returning to SE23!!
I think I’ll stick with the East Croydon rail connection getting there but depending on what time I come home I may get the 185 bus which I have done a lot over the years.
Haha absolutely - I do plenty of cycling and wine, just not on the same evening - not a wise move
I do love the bus too - often get the 176 home from Waterloo Bridge at weekends because it’s easier than trains or there’s line work - sit at the front and watch the world go by.
Luckily I’m not much further from catford/catford Bridge than i am from forest hill so may just have to do that -but yes, three months definitely a pain! I just hope they do bring the service back. Not sure I trust them…
I asked at the ticket office at FH and I was told that it’s not coming back this year and Southern are looking for an excuse to get rid of it due to congestion. As trains are, in theory, still quiet Southern won’t even think about bringing back for the forseeable.
Hi. Does anybody know why there are only 2 trains an hour FH to LB on Saturday, but 4 on Sunday? Is this normal or temporary? 4 trains is ok but still quite light for zone 3.
Also, are there really no weekend services from FH on the overground for the rest of the year?
The combination of the two leaving us with only 2 trains an hour isn’t really that great.
Couldn’t it just be one of them at once with no/greatly reduced service - rather than both Southern and LO down/reduced? Don’t they coordinate with each other…
My guess is that the two missing trains are the Victoria to London bridge trains.
This would not be too much of a problem, if the Overground trains were running. You could get an Overgound train to New Cross Gate and pick up a mainline train there. Some mainline trains are fast to New Cross Gate and then onto London Bridge.
It’d be much better if the overground trains ran at the weekend. 2 trains/ hour for zone 3 isn’t really ok. Not sure how they’re getting away with it really…
Its rubbish-I’m sounding like a cracked record moaning about this but as someone who works weekends its actually making me pretty damn miserable and the hours I work mean that I always end up with a 20 min wait at London Bridge on Saturday.
I think it’s a very valid moan. Two trains/hour I mean this is zone 3!! I don’t mind whether it’s Southern or Overground but I think the council or whoever need to pick this up with TFL.
Absolutely no doubt that Forest Hill is now a worse station to be living near in terms of services. Scrapping the London Bridge to Victoria service is a nightmare for those of us that needed it. Adds in a other unnecessary change and +15 minutes to journey time.
According to the TfL website there’s no overground service on the Forest Hill branch pretty much every weekend until December.
@Sherwood is correct. Pre Covid-19 2 of the 4 Southern trains an hour Monday-Saturday from Forest Hill to London Bridge were the Victoria service , and therefore when the Victoria service was suspended when the temporary timetables were initially introduced that has resulted in only the 2 Coulsdon Town services operating. However on Sundays Southern operate a London Bridge - Crystal Palace service which has not been suspended. Therefore when London Overground had engineering work every weekend in July and August and we were only left with the Southern services, this was why there were 2 trains on Saurdays but 4 trains most Sundays!
The London Overground work on July and August weekends had been delayed from being done over the Easter period when it would have taken less time but Covid-19 regulations has affected the way rail engineering work can be done but as it is safety critical it can’t just be left.
The engineering work for the next 4 weekends is resulting in no Southern or London Overground trains on our line at all. There will be bus replacement services between New Cross Gate and West Croydon and London Overground will be operating northbound from New Cross Gate and v.v… There will be no Southern service from New Cross Gate.
Depending on where in SE23 you live when we have engineering work on our main line it is often worth looking at options from other stations in the area. E.g. Catford Bridge (served by 185 and 171 buses) to London Bridge and Charing Cross, Penge East (served by 75 bus) to London Victoria or Crofton Park (served by 122, 171, 172 buses) and Catford to Blackfriars (change at Denmark Hill for Victoria)
Prior to all of this they also removed the peak time trains to/from East Croydon, which I think was far more useful than going to West Croydon.
It definitely feels like Forest Hill Station is less useful than it used to be.
Forest Hill never gets any visibility in transport surveys despite it been the third busiest station in Lewisham (Lewisham and New Cross Gate are busier) and 25% busier than the next (Brockley). The busiest by far in Ellie’s constituency
It is also the 93rd busiest station in the UK - busier than Huddersfield, Kingston and Peterborough! Almost ever busier station has more than 2 platforms
No LO or Southern for the next 4 weekends - really not ok.
If you live on the East side of FH then travelling by bus/foot to Catford/East Dulwich/Sydenham Hill/New Cross can easily add 20/30 mins to the journey.
Has TFL been challenged on its decision to close the LO for the rest of the year at weekends? I appreciate maintenance needs doing but it has been down pretty much every weekend since about March if I remember correctly.
Does whatever needs doing really take this long or are they just taking advantage?
There is a big push to get everyone travelling by public transport or on foot/bike - really difficult for that to happen if they cancel all of the trains/LO!
Oh I see - not entirely sure how political representation works but it’d be good if the council could try to sort this out.
Where have you found the notification that LO will be closed at weekends for the rest of the year?
There is a lot of engineering work planned but neither TFL’s “planned line closures and service changes” or National Rail Enquiries “future engineering works” shows every weekend!
I think he was exaggerating - in the next 23 weekends we only have 14 weekends with no service! Of course there are 8 more weeks with early stopping
TfL in their infinite wisdom don’t make it easy to see outages by line - so here is a list:
|Mon 14 until Thu 17 Sept||Sydenham to West Croydon after 22:15|
|Sat 19 and Sun 20 Sept||New Cross Gate to Crystal Palace and West Croydon,|
|Sat 26 and Sun 27 Sept||New Cross Gate to Crystal Palace and West Croydon.|
|Sat 3 Oct||New Cross Gate to West Croydon and Crystal Palace|
|Sun 4 Oct||New Cross Gate to West Croydon/Crystal Palace,|
|Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction,|
|Sat 10 and Sun 11 Oct||Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction, New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace|
|Sat 17 and Sun 18 Oct||Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction, New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace|
|Mon 19 until Thu 22 Oct||Sydenham to West Croydon after 23:30|
|Sat 24 and Sun 25 Oct||Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction, New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace|
|Sat 21 and Sun 22 Nov||Highbury & Islington to Shadwell,|
|Surrey Quays to New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace,|
|Sat 28 and Sun 29 Nov||Highbury & Islington to Shadwell,|
|Surrey Quays to New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace,|
|Mon 30 Nov||Sydenham to West Croydon after 23:30,|
|Tue 1 until Thu 3 Dec||Sydenham to West Croydon after 22:15,|
|Mon 7 until Thu 10 Dec||Sydenham to West Croydon after 22:15|
|Sun 20 Dec||Highbury & Islington to Dalston Junction after 22:00|
|Thu 24 Dec||Services finish earlier than usual on Christmas Eve|
|Fri 25 Dec||No service on Christmas Day|
|Sat 26 Dec||Sydenham to Crystal Palace,|
|Sun 3 Jan||New Cross Gate to West Croydon and Crystal Palace.|
|Sat 9 and Sun 10 Jan||Highbury & Islington to Shadwell,|
|Surrey Quays to New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace|
|Mon 11 until Thu 14 Jan||Sydenham to West Croydon after 23:30|
|Sun 24 Jan||Sydenham to Crystal Palace,|
|Sat 30 and Sun 31 Jan||Highbury & Islington to Shadwell,|
|Surrey Quays to New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace,|
|Sat 20 and Sun 21 Feb||Surrey Quays to New Cross, West Croydon and Crystal Palace|
|Mon 1 - Thu 4 Mar||Sydenham to West Croydon after 22:15|
Also £$%$" Tfl - don’t even have balls to say why the line is out.
You will see there are a few weekends with service from Shadwell to Surrey Quays - got to keep the tube drivers nicely paid while providing no service to the customers!
Just as a side note, it’s high time the Overground got it’s own individual line names - the network is almost as complex as the tube and if you see reports of ‘problems on the Overground’ it could literally be all the way over in North West London - it’s useless. I know it’s been hotly debated but it really needs to happen asap as it’s super confusing.
this is ridiculous! Will the rail services be out then as well?
Yes they will be for some of it - their website is also a piece of shit designed to obscure
Next weekend with no works is 17/10 (but no Overground) - then back off on 7/11 - then you are into the “Southern Rail thinks this is too far in the future to give you information”
More pissed off with the obvious attempt to hide the closures and the reasons for them that the actual closures
I’ve never known so many weekends of closures on this line!
The November dates have only appeared in the last week or so! It seems very strange though that TFL are splitting the work on our line into two parts as that infers there will be trains running between Shadwell and Surrey Quays which I’d be very surprised is correct!
NRE are showing the whole line closed which is probably more accurate, although currently they only show the weekend of 20/21 November and nothing any later!
The early stopping of LO services south of Sydenham happens quite regularly and also affects Southern services south of Norwood Junction from around 11pm but probably doesn’t affect many of us in the SE23 area. There are normally the same number of services operating southbound as far as Sydenham as the services that would normally terminate at West Croydon are diverted to Crystal Palace. It’s only if you need to travel further south than Sydenham after around 10.30pm or are returning to Forest Hill from somewhere further south than Sydenham after that time that you will have to use Southern services to and from Norwood Junction and then the bus replacement services to or from West Croydon.
I had to opt out of late shifts in my job due to living here-my late shift ends at 10.30pm and it would have left me having to take 2 busses and getting home after midnight.
Needless to say my manager was NOT impressed- he lives in Winchester and manages to get home from late shifts and I live in zone 3 !!!
We’ve lived here 10years and its never been this bad.
its actually getting me down tbh.
@maxrocks I feel for you although I’m not sure your manager still has the late trains to Winchester that existed before the covid-19 timetables came in. I travel on that route fairly regularly and in the past I always found it crazy that the last train was a lot later than I could get from London Bridge to Forest Hill!
It seems TFL/National rail (whoever) just do exactly as they please with no communication or thought to people living in the area.
I understand that now is a good time to do engineering works, and also that services may need reducing/amending due to lower passenger numbers. However this should then surely mean that FH will have 100% service for the next couple of years. However I notice that TFL are already scheduling overground closures through to March 2021.
It really seems that London overground are taking advantage. OK so engineering works got delayed at Easter due to COVID, fine I understand. But let’s say Easter is 14 days - to have the service down every weekend for approximately nine months is around 72 days. Why the difference? Can’t they compromise and at least run a reduced service - 4 trains an hour - even 2 would be better than nothing. This is at a time where buses are operating at reduced capacity and are generally very unpleasant to be on.
I really think the council should support here - various initiatives ‘encouraging’ people to avoid using their cars. I am all for this, I do not actually have a car, however people will not stop using cars if the transport is as bad as it has become at FH at the weekend.
I agree that now is a great time to do works, but I have a few issues :
1)no communications (forest Hill Station regularly forgets to advertise at all) and there is no real advanced notice
2) the last few years have been covered in weekend closures. Normally you would only expect 1-2 weeks a year but our line has been closed enough to completely replace the tracks every year for 4 years.
3)no reason given for the works
4) no improvement to the service - in fact it decreases. They keep removing services - where are charing cross trains or the promised Kings Cross ones?
5)they deny past closures happened so you can’t challenge them
6) rail replacement buses are often (usually) not signposted and occasionally barely in FH (often you have to walk to honor Oak road)
7) no scheduling between Southern and LO so they sometimes close at the same time
@LeoGibbons these are the kind of factors that encourage people to use roads, so Lewisham Council possibly should be weighing in on this problem.
When I used to commute, this was the norm at Norwood Junction and it was crazily dangerous as people sprinted down the stairs, through the underpass and around the corners trying to make the connection between Southern and LO.
@ForestHull I meant close (noun) not close (adverb)
We don’t have that problem in FH because they removed the 3rd/4th platforms
Everything you say is so true and causes me much frustration (especially the once promised Charing X train)
Personally I have found in the past that contacting our local councillors for anything travel related falls on deaf ears-either dent get a reply or you get a reply advising you to just contact the rail companies involved.
I emailed all and sundry about this some time ago and got nowhere.
I remember the trains to Charing Cross in the evening and back again.
A long time ago.
@maxrocks The Charing Cross train would have taken 15mins off my commute and reduced the cost - thats a lot of time and money I’ve wasted because they can’t meet their promises (thousands of £)
Ah . . . . the old days . . . .
Back in the late 1970s I ran into London Bridge station around midnight and just missed the last train to FH. I moaned to the staff member close to me as a driver walked past. The driver overheard and asked me to wait a minute . . . he then got on the phone (a fixed staff only one) and beckoned me to join him. Hop in he said - it was a lone diesel loco with no train behind it. I stepped up into the cab with him and he explained that he had been routed to take the fast track through FH and his call had been to the signalman to put him on the stopping line. We flashed through all the stations enroute and he let me get off at FH. The station was completely shut and I had to climb over a wall to get out.
It’s hard to know who to complain to: it is true that our local councillors and Lewisham Mayor don’t have direct management of any of this - but they could lobby. Same for our MP. Our GLA member should be representing our case to the Mayor, but I have no idea whether that is happening.
@Meldrew - That sounds like a good guy. Sadly I bet they have shut that type of thing down completely because of ‘safety’
Also jumping over the only wall in FH station these days will give you a 20foot drop so I wouldn’t recommend that!!
Lets hope they do!
The cost is is significant.
A single journey on the overground to canary wharf is £1.50 - increasing to £3 if you have to take a bus to New Cross. Over the course of the year this is huge.
Also - comms is terrible. I found out about the rail replacement bus on this forum. It does not actually go to the station but via Honour Oak Road. I just assumed TFL had failed to provide it however it should save the cost of the bus even if it adds hours over time to your journey.
Only way to travel is to just rock up at FH station and hope for the best - as the comms is so muddled and changes all the time.
We really need some action. Why cancellations through to 2021 TFL? More engineering works? Surely not. Apparently they have been done for the last 4 years!
Is it worth asking MPs & councillors TP push for a fare concession? Presumably the track maintenance needs doing, but they could at least make alternative tfl routes available on the usual ticket?
For instance, while the London Bridge / Victoria loop is out of service, we should be able to take the alternative routes at the same price. It might focus TFL minds on bringing the service back.
I’ve yet to find any GLA members who reply to emails. I did get a couple of read receipts from Sian Berry. But not even that courtesy from Len Duvall or Tom Copley. Maybe I’d have better luck if it were election time.
Maybe an old fashioned letter would be harder for them to ignore?
Personally, I have taken to tweeting them, as it is public, on the record, and makes them look bad if they ignore it.
Off topic slightly - The entire rail to bus connection needs to be looked at. if you take two buses or two trains which have an interchange station (even if there’s a decent walk between them - like Clapham North to Clapham High St), then it’s a single fare. But if you take a bus to a station, it’s two fares. If you’re not particularly near a station (or if it’s wet), it means that a return journey into zone 1, takes you to the cap for the day.
If Oyster can work out the former, it should be able to work out the latter. Other MTAs seem to manage it.
Examples of the different fare costs from FH to Canary Wharf, off peak on Saturday’s, due to TFL service cancellations:
- £1.50: overground picking up the Jubilee/DLR
- £3:00 if the overground is partially down and you take a bus to pick up the overground at say New Cross.
- £4:40 if you have to get Southern to LB in zone 1 and then the Jubilee line
That’s a ridiculous amount extra! Have you tried complaining to TFL about the extra costs you’ve incurred due to the 8 weekends of line closures on London Overground? For the next 4 weekends as there are no trains at all you will need to take the bus replacement service to New Cross Gate and then the overground to Canada Water for the normal connection to Canary Wharf.
It is definitely something to push for. It’s a huge difference in price, and would add up to a scary total over a year.
Yup same-I could have walked to work from there and only needed 1 train
are there no trains at all for 4 weekends in total?
Not just no trains this weekend then no Overground for the remainder?
I find it very hard to find info for Southern rail
Southern’s website is like a Mensa Challenge!
This is what they’re saying about Sat/Sun 10th 11th Oct.
They are providing a rail replacement between Dalston and New Cross Gate - or then you can use Southern Rail between Sydenham and West Croydon!
They seem to have forgotten the stretch of line between NCG and Sydenham???
** No London Overground service will run between New Cross Gate and Crystal Palace / West Croydon.*
** A replacement bus service will operate between Dalston Kingsland and New Cross Gate via New Cross.*
** On Saturday, customers can use Southern services between New Cross Gate and West Croydon via Crystal Palace.*
** On Sunday, customers can use London Buses by any reasonable route, or Southern services between Sydenham and Norwood Junction / West Croydon.*
In my experience trying to keep everyone up to date with the 8 weekends of LO’s closure in July and August the best place to check is the “future engineering works” section on the National Rail website:
However even that isn’t always totally accurate and since Covid restrictions it can change up to the day before!
I’m just about to do a new post about this weekend but there are no Southern or London overground trains running at all between New Cross Gate and Crystal Palace/West Croydon/East Croydon. There will be bus replacement services in both directions every 10 minutes (supposedly!) London Overground is operating from/to New Cross Gate but Southern aren’t operating from New Cross Gate to London Bridge.
My usual reminder to post about is weekend travel issues is when receive the weekend travel information email from TFL but for some strange reason I’ve not received it for the last 3 weeks!
thanks for info-and to the Earlier Poster,
The southern rail communication really makes little sense at all!
I took the train to Crystal Palace yesterday to then carry on to West Norwood as the Victoria train would have done.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that the Victoria train left the other platform (1) at exactly the same time as mine arrived.
Who’d have thought a timetable could give you the finger!?
I have a car. And frankly for as long as there are no services or overcrowded services, I will use it if using my bike isn’t possible. But I agree it’s really not the direction we should be going in and it’s not what I’d want to do. The problem of the enforcement of Covid rules is one thing, but just doing engineering every single weekend is well within national railman control.
Engineering works surely cannot be the reason behind all of the closures on Southern and the Overground.
Why is it that other lines such as the underground, the DLR, other rail providers, manage to run a service without this number of closures.
I don’t really know enough it to comment, but this headline makes me wonder:
Analysis by RMT reveals that the German state-owned operator of London Overground paid out more than £4 million to shareholders last year while axing ticket offices
Deutsche Bahn are the owners of Arriva Rail London, the concession holders of London Overground. DB own Arriva (which operate bus and rail services in 14 European countries), including Chiltern, Cross Country and Grand Central trains in UK. Their profits aren’t from running London Overground.
Also, in terms of ticket office closures, these were ordered by TfL, and Arriva Rail London can do nothing about it.
Thanks for the insight Flora.
Ticket office closures are very sad for any employees involved.
I was more referring to the fact that the company is making a profit while delivering next to no service to SE London at weekends. Whoever is responsible need to balance profit with service across their portfolio, or at least between them and Southern this needs to happen.
I’m largely in the dark about the in’s and out’s of how all this works, but weekend service just isn’t this bad in other parts of London and I can’t help but wonder if they’ve been left to get away with too much for too long.
I agree with the councils plans to try to reduce private vehicles on the road. However, perhaps they should pause their efforts on getting people out of cars until they’ve first ensured there’s actually public transport for people to switch to.
Nobody likes spending their weekend hanging around waiting for RR buses.
And a safe pedestrian crossing to get to the station.
Does anyone recall how long the direct train to Victoria takes when it’s running?
it isn’t running but from memory about 25 mins
wishful thinking… 42 mins (timetable here https://www.southernrailway.com/timetables if interested)
Thanks, I managed to find an old timetable too:
Weirdly today Honor oak has trains going part of the route to Streatham Hill twice an hour… but they don’t seem to be on the timetable coming back again … which is kind of odd…
@Suze These services were added by Southern when they revised their initial “Coronovirus timetable” back on July 6th. They notified that they were reinstating London Bridge to Crystal Palace services at peak hours which is Monday - Friday until about 0900 and between 1700 and 2000 . Some of the services though start or terminate at Streatham Hill as I think there is a Southern depot there.
Was checking out the new December timetable, it appears London Bridge to London Victoria trains will be reinstated from Monday 14th December.
Thanks for letting us know, Flora - fab news
Hallelulah! Thanks @Flora_Noris for being the bearer of good news!
Slightly worryingly though - when I’ve checked a journey to Hampshire on both National Rail Enquires and Southern Railways websites for 14th December although it’s showing the Southern Victoria service as the service to connect to South Western at Clapham Junction a warning symbol is shown with “This Southern train will not run and will be removed from the journey planner shortly” !! Hopefully that’s just a system blip while all the new timetables are being loaded!
Thats the best news I’ve had in ages
I wouldn’t bet on that but wait and check closer to time.
Don’t worry I will!
To be honest it was just an exploratory check as I wasn’t expecting the new timetable to be loaded on the various journey planners yet. I’m used to double checking everything before posting about our local weekend engineering works almost every week!
How come? Changing at London Bridge takes 10 minutes officially but is often quicker in practice. So what is this hypothetical journey that’s 15 minutes faster?
Why is that? I thought a peak single fare to London Bridge and Charing Cross was exactly the same. In using the Overground and changing at Whitechapel there even is an option available that is cheaper than what taking a hypothetical Charing Cross train would cost, based on single fares.
Who are “they”? What have they promised to you and when? Were they qualified to make any such promises?
Southern have now summarised their Winter timetable changes from December 13th on their website and advising these are now Iive in online journey planners however it doesn’t seem good news for us after all as it appears they are only reinstating the service on Saturdays!
When I’ve checked journey planner on both Southern and National Rail Enquiries they are indeed only showing the service operating on Saturdays!
@Clausy - I thought our MP Ellie Reeves had advised the Forest Hill Society she had received confirmation that the Victoria service was being reinstated from the December timetable?
The only response I can see (from TfL) was to do with the Overground and we got notice in late October about the Shadwell to Sydenham Overground.
We are planning to run adapted services of four tph, from Shadwell to Crystal Palace and West Croydon, from November onwards. This is in addition to any services that Southern may be running.
I think the Victoria train reinstatement may have been discovered here by someone else. I did have a long look through my emails but can’t find anything about Victoria trains, sorry
It was @Flora_Noris who first picked it up (see her post from 20th October above) before anything was announced by Southern.
I remember it being discussed when Ellie joined the FHS AGM and that she seemed surprised to hear it had stopped when the initial Covid timetables were introduced back in March. Looking at Ellie’s letter to FHS members from October 6th she said she would also be writiing to Network Rail and the Department of Transport and having seen the reinstatement of the Victoria service being mentioned on the FHS December e-newsletter I received earlier in the week I wrongly assummed that confirmation of the reinstatement had come through Ellie. Sorry!
I can’t really understand the logic of reinstating the service just on Saturday’s although it will mean we go back to having 4 trains an hour to and from London Bridge (when there’s not engineering works!). Many of those who have commented on the loss of the service on this and other threads mention needing it for their commute.
Yes indeed, apologies, I’m as confused as you are. I will do some digging… I’m surprised to hear the ‘Saturday only’ news too.
I don’t think it is Saturday only. It’s extra services on Saturday for the route. The route mainly operated on weekdays. So this is good news. Yes?
Oh dear-Saturday only?? Thats a bit rubbish to say the least.
What about the people who commute during the week
There really ought to be a proper investigation into the train service out of Forest Hill to understand whether the service through FH been disproportionately affected by (apparently) coronavirus in comparison to other stations in inner London zone 3?
Have all stations been reduced to 2 or 0 or recently 4 trains/hour? Or is it just FH?
When is the light at the end of the tunnel? IE when will there be 8 trains/hour 7 days/week to H&I, and then the 4 Southern trains running to schedule every day, including the VIC train.
Things have improved recently because we have had 4/hour to Shadwell, however this is surely not considered a victory, but a small step towards ressuming the service that we are scheduled to have.
The London Bridge - Victoria via Crystal Palace service pre Covid was a Monday - Saturday service but hasn’t operated in full at all since the “Covid timetable” was introduced in March. When the “Covid timetable” was tweaked in July 6th they started operating just the London Bridge - Crystal Palace section during the morning and evening peak times (although some services terminated or started at Streatham Common). Many of us were hoping for a return to the full route again in the December timetable. But after seeing on the Southern website earlier that the December timetable has been loaded on the online jouney planners I checked travel for every day for the week commencing 14th December and the only day where the through service to Victoria displayed was the Saturday!
Its been pretty grim as I chose to change at London bridge to come home rather than Canada water and often I just miss one train and have to wait 25 mins for another.
Its appalling that we have such a lamentable train service here.
I often feel like I live in wilds of suburbia when colleagues that live in Eastbourne,High Wycombe and Winchester have a better train service than I do
Hi Max, Not the sort of journey you want after a day at work! . I must admit even pre-covid the only times I changed at London Bridge were when I’d started my journey at Charing Cross and there wasn’t a Catford Bridge train for a while or when I was travelling on the Jubilee line very late and knew I wouldn’t get to Canada Water in time for the last LO train.
For the last few years I’ve always felt we had pretty good transport options in SE23 with mainline options to and from Victoria and London Bridge and the London Overground with all the various tube connections. Although when I worked near East Croydon over 10 years ago and was on a 6pm finish I was always miffed that I had to wait till 6.30 for an train home which meant a colleague that lived in Brighton got home at the same time as me!
Oh that is sad. I had high hopes but sadly my last post on this must’ve been before timetable was updated. There’s no reason why they can’t do this now. Literally NO reason. Southern need to be held accountable.
Who’s job is that?
Who of course would be expected to currently be at the shortest possible Treasury lead, and with MPs at the ready to “stand up for their constituents”. Perhaps unfortunately, the MP per station call ratio (is that a thing?) tends to be much lower in South London - so maybe political attention would likely be greater elsewhere if trains were axed the need to change trains was introduced?
@Flora_Noris, what makes you so convinced that there are no reasons for not bringing back the direct Victoria trains?
What would the reasons be?
In this day and age you surely expect public transport to get better, not worse. I appreciate the pandemic has been a valid reason to temporarily reduce services, but surely this should not be longer term? Won’t reducing public transport lead to greater reliance on cars?
The only reason I can think is that you can get to Crystal Palace on the Overground and change onto a Victoria train (admittedly less convenient), but that doesn’t explain why they have now brought it back on Saturday only.
It is possible, but why should we have to accept vastly reduced, inferior services.
Lambeth and Wandsworth are South of the river and have great transport. Not all of this is because two tube lines run through them, it is also because the train companies provide the service without all of the excuses.
Example, in FH, the OG claimed they could not run weekend services due to engineering works, which is surely untrue given Southern run on the same tracks.
I potentially have a job offer at Battersea and the lack of the service giving me a direct route to work is a massive factor putting me off the job! I work long hours and can’t justify a longer commute on top.
Why is the SE always neglected when it comes to transport?? Must be the only part of London that really lacks adequate public transport into the city. No tubes, reduced services, now a complete stop to some services…
I might as well move out to the sticks because I’ve got a better chance of getting to places in central London quicker than I do at the moment.
Go to Crystal Palace and change for the Victoria service.
I don’t know to be honest. I assume that the change wouldn’t have happened for no reason although I appreciate this sounds a bit philosophical. If I were a betting man I would say that money is likely to play a part in this decision. The reduction in people travelling (i.e. paying for it) seems to massively outweigh any reduction in services (i.e. cost savings).
Have you tried asking Southern why services are reinstated on Saturdays but not Mondays to Fridays?
Did anyone suggest this would be a longer term change? We’re still in the middle of the pandemic. That’s not to say that I don’t expect be any long term impact, I’m told we’re in the worst recession in 300 years.
I wouldn’t argue against this in normal times, however I suspect that these days other reasons weigh much stronger for people switching to cars or not travelling at all.
Yeah I used to do that years ago when the train was cancelled but there is a wait between the services.
Not exactly knowing the example you refer to, do you know whether the engineering works were happening on the section where Overground and Southern use the same tracks? They don’t use the same tracks north of New Cross Gate, so any works on any of those sections would typically affect only one of the two train companies.
That’s actually a real benefit over living on a tube line which would typically mean not having a service at all during engineering works.
Still a preferable option over taking the 185 up to Vauxhall and getting another bus to Battersea, no?
My issue wasn’t that there isn’t a route to Battersea it’s that the direct route has been taken.
I totally agree .
I takes me an hour to get to work now-up until this year it was 45 mins door to door.
Now every weekend I hold my breath to see if we have any service at all.
The train service here is rubbish.
I’m expected to work until 10pm in the run up to christmas and I’m ashamed to tell my manager that I have to leave earlier because of the train service.
Colleagues that live in Harrow and Upminster and Eastbourne and Winchester dont have the sketchy service we do and we’re in zone 3.
May as well move to the sticks its a better service.
We were promised a better service when the Overground came to forest hill. But we had a mainline train to London Bridge every ten minutes. Many passengers just got off at New Cross Gate and joined the East London Line.
I think organisers think they can cancel the mainline trains because of the Overground. But it seems that the Overground is frequently cancelled as well.
I tend to use Catford Bridge to London now.
I think the issue is that:
Not everyone has a car, and in zone 3 of inner London you should expect to be able to rely solely on public transport.
Even if you have a car, it is not viable to drive into zone 1 for work due to congestion, ulez and parking costs.
Many people have to travel north of the river on a daily basis, at weekends and other off-peak times, and transport options are far too thin on the ground in these circumstances.
Many people have season tickets and rightly do not wish to pay for cars/taxis because transport is poor, as this means they are paying twice.
People should not have to pay for two journey’s (bus + train, overground + train) just because transport out of FH is too thin on the ground.
People should not have to spend example 29 minutes at LB or 27 minutes at CP because services at FH have been cut far far worse than other stations in zone 3, inner London.
I am sure that transport in the borough of Lewisham is fine for people who live and work in Lewisham Borough. Trying to get out of Lewisham Borough to central London is the issue.
Not everyone has the option of driving, or staying local.
Slightly off-topic but I travel to North London once a week. Door to door is 2 hours on public transport, 1hour 10 mins by car (that migth extend post lockdown I guess). One method is basically Covid safe, the other has a significant minority sharing an enclosed space with me without masks.
So option 1 - 4 hour return and more covid risk or option 2, 2.5 hour return with minimal risk.
If the times were the same, I’d probably still try for public transport but when you have to change trains for connections, and some trains are only every 30 minutes it just makes it hard to do so whilst not the same I completely sympathise with people who need this service.
I just hope they finish all engineering work this year, and do not try to use that excuse again for a good long while. They’ve surely had enough time to do it this year. There have been barely any trains every weekend since March.
Although when it operated the direct service to Victoria took about 10 minutes longer than going via Canada Water and Westminster or Green Park I always found it far more convenient as I could be guaranteed a seat for the whole journey and there was less walking involved making it a more comfortable journey or someone with some mobility issues due to arthritis. The Victoria service also provided a good interchange at Clapham Junction when I needed to travel on South Western Railways to South West London or Hampshire and especially as on the trips to Hampshire I’m always travelling with luggage.
At a time when we’re still supposed to be social distancing it seems crazy that without the direct service we now have to change at least once if not twice utilising 2 or 3 different trains/tubes and often using busier interchanges with higher footfall and putting you in contact with potentially far more people who could potentially be transmitting Covid.
Although “Cinderella Line” may have been coined by the campaign to improve services on the Catford loop line that serves stations such as Crofton the name seems very apt for the Southern London Bridge - Victoria route since Covid hit. IMO Southern have been underhanded in how this route hasn’t been mentioned on their website almost everytime any amendments have been made to the previous reduced timetables. Even today the only routes shown as not operating with the justification are:
And even now they’re reintroducing a Saturday service it shows under extra Saturday services inferring they are additional to an exisitng service! As others have commented before there has been a suspicion for some time that Southern would like to drop the route.
Now Southern have loaded the new Winter timetable from December 13th on their website I’ve found the service included on the East and West Croydon to London via Norwood Junction and Forest Hill timetable: Loading...
Unfortunately it does only show times for the Victoria route under the Saturday tab so goodness knows how long we’re going to have to wait for Monday - Friday services to be reintroduced even if we can get Ellie Reeves our MP to take this up with the powers that be!
The initial reason given was that they took away the 377s used on the route to lengthen other services for social distancing. It seems incredibly short sighted to continue this. Especially as the 455s cause delays to London Overground as they are really bad for acceleration and braking, especially during inclement weather.
Yes, so cheeky. It is a reduction in services, not additional services.
The overground with their never ending engineering works is another example of underhand behaviour and I am not sure why it is tolerated.
Having lived in other boroughs I know for sure that engineering works are never to this extent elsewhere. 3/4 times/year or something reasonable.
Just read about the “Cinderella Line” service for Catford. Why build so many new flats/houses and not expect to have to increase transport? Cannot believe they had to campaign for more service, surely it would have been expected?
Great for Catford, but it seems the “Cinderella Line” has now moved over here to Forest Hill. Southern just moved the problem…
I think you’ll find there will be at least 1 weekend day every 1-2 months when there will be some engineering work on this line because of the amount of rail traffic that uses the line between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction. TfL are already showing some weekends in 2021 but National Rail doesn’t show anything for Southern yet except possibly during the week after Christmas.
If they communicate that routine maintenance is required 1 day per 2 months or even 1 month, fine. But, surely there will be no excuse for anything more than that given the amount of time they’ve had this year to carry out whatever work is needed.
It also does not account for the fact that the overground has been down far more than 1 weekend day every 1/2 months. Seems more like at least 30% of weekends for years.
What I still cannot get my head around, is how the overground are doing engineering works when Southern are still running a service on the same tracks? How does that work? Or is it an excuse, they are not doing engineering works, just for whatever reason not providing the service.
The Catford Loop isn’t operated by Southern but Thameslink although they are both part of the GTR group!
Most of the engineering work on London Overground since July wasn’t on our part of the line but they didn’t operate anything on the line at all. That may have been a commercial decision with the low numbers of people travelling at the time. As you will have seen with the engineering works the last few weekends London Overground have run a service between Shadwell and West Croydon/ Crystal Palace when there was no service north of Shadwell.
Some of it very legitimately is cost, and I understand that. We need to ensure that our services are not cut by say 30%, when other stations are still receiving 100% of their original service.
I found it very amusing one day when I was on a delayed Overground train and the driver apologised saying “We are following a slow mainline train.”!
I expected it to be the other way round!
Says who? I’m not sure such entitlement exists. Having said that, an increasing number of people happily go carless. Up until recently I had done so myself for many many years. There are even many who solely rely on buses in order to cut expenditure.
14 trains every hour to Central London in the peak, 12 in the off peak, 10-12 at the moment still when only a fraction of people travel. London Bridge being one of the most central and best connected transport hubs in the capital. I think that would be seen as luxury by national standards, and still pretty decent for a London Zone 3 area.
They could apply for a Season Ticket refund if no longer needed and reassess their options.
At least TfL seem to have recognised this and managed to get the Mayor’s attention. Hopper fares were a start, and I believe they were going to extend this to integrate bus into Underground/Overground fares (if it hasn’t happened already, then it probably had to be put on hold). Beyond that, it becomes a problem of different responsible authorities who whose political leaders don’t trust each other. There seems to be a general will for fare reform. The trouble tends to be the apparent mantra of nobody having to pay an extra single penny as a result (including the proverbial taxpayer), which often makes you end up with the status quo.
And they typically don’t. A quick check reveals that the interchange at Crystal Palace tends to take 8-10 minutes. The through train had a similar standing time at Crystal Palace anyway. Only a train every half hour to London Bridge off-peak seems inconvenient but Overground/Jubilee will be seen as an adequate alternative. The weekday off-peak trains to London Bridge were dead quiet during normal times, I doubt they’re much busier nowadays.
I haven’t gone as far as checking the changes for all other Zone 3 stations in London, but it sounds like you’ve done a thorough research. I’m pleased the grass is greener elsewhere.
In any case, I appreciate this has probably ended up in a bit of a circular argument. The train service is what it is, and I would not expect anything to change as a direct result of this discussion. Perhaps better places for making noises are Twitter or through Rail User Groups. No success guaranteed but probably a greater chance of being heard. SE23.life still serves as a place to have a good old moan.
We are one of the carless by choice and find public transport fine here for our purposes. The endless weekend engineering works seem mainly to be driven by crossrail and so should end soon.
This is not an excuse for.poor transport but the lack of tube links is one of the key reasons why SE London is cheaper than other areas of London and often over looked. Win some, lose some.
I recently travelled from Forest Hill to Victoria changing at East Croydon. Only 40 minutes which is 10 minutes faster than the old direct service!
Yeah, but direct trains from Forest Hill to East Croydon aren’t as frequent as they used to be. When I was commuting to Purley last year I had to change at Norwood Junction and wait for the Thameslink service. Regardless, surely taking the Overground to Crystal Palace and changing there for the Victoria service would’ve been a quicker option?
I used to do a similar trip, but even that change at Norwood Junction could be unreliable or slow in the morning, so I’d go to West Croydon and then walk over to East Croydon.
Between the disruption and unreliability and time this all took, I ended up driving to work instead It should be the other way around.
It’s also possible cycle to Victoria in about 30 mins too
I don’t think anyone is saying you can’t get about. I think what some of us are saying is that there were better services and now there are worse ones and We are wanting an explanation.
I tweeted southern last night. The service is still not running because they are still running in the December timetable because they are still a Covid reduced service. I have asked what the specific Covid related reason is because if I knew the answer to that I would have some idea of when/whether it would be back.
I do feel the services have degraded since I moved here and if this one goes permanently, yes you can change at Crystal Palace, but that is a less good service than having a direct train. So while it’s practically workable, it’s less convenient and there is more chance (in normal times) of having to stand all the rest of the way.
I’m not sure that the fact that there is a less convenient, potentially more uncomfortable route is a reason for those of us who used the Victoria direct service just to accept its loss!