London Loop Line

From the Sydenham Society enewsletter:

Goodbye to all direct trains between

Sydenham and Victoria?

During the pandemic, all trains on the direct “loop line” between London Bridge and Victoria (operated by Southern) were cancelled.

At the time, passengers may have been forgiven for believing that this was a temporary measure, designed to get us over the pandemic.

But the new timetable introduced in recent weeks by Southern tells a different story.

The “loop line” has disappeared permanently. In its place, passengers are advised to get a Southern train and change at Norwood Junction or travel to Crystal Palace on the Overground and change there.

This means inconvenient, long-drawn-out journeys with platform changes at an intermediate station. And it’s much slower - a journey between Sydenham and Gipsy Hill for example, (two stops up the line), now takes 21 minutes. You could walk between these two stations more quickly!

The Sydenham Society is organising a meeting with local MP Ellie Reeves to discuss this with Southern.


I’m all for putting pressure on Southern in anyway possible to get more of the London Bridge - Victoria service reinstated at the earliest opportunity. However I can’t help feeling it would be better if the @ForestHillSociety joined forces with the Sydenham Society for a joint meeting.with Ellie. The original loss of the service was raised with Ellie Reeves when she attended the FHS online AGM last year and she was going to write to Southern as she did with TfL about the number of weekends we were losing London Overground services to engineering work. Whilst she got a response from TfL I never heard of a response from Southern.


I note we have a peak time service to East Croydon again, or rather those services stop at Forest Hill now.

I wonder if the loop line was sacrificed for the services to / from East Croydon ?

I’ve done the emailing as an individual to Southern, TFL, the Mayor Grant Schapps (I think the man was called who is an MP) but got nowhere.
We need someone to fight on our behalf as commuters because the service has been getting worse and worse.

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But Peak time is actually a very short window.
I finished work at 6.45 today and just made the 19.10-had I not made that train it would have been a 30 min wait.
Peak should last until 8pm as more and more companies introduce flexible working and not every job is 9-5pm.
The West end is not 9-5 London is not a 9-5 city.
My colleague who lives in Eastbourne actually has a more regular train service than we do.

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Regardless of what we all read in the nationals when it comes to rail franchises, Southern has to be the most gash company to travel with when it comes to commuting in London and the south east. Although more limited networks, I’ve always found South Eastern and Thameslink to be more reliable and less prone to weekend restrictions.

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We discussed this at our Exec Committee meeting tonight. We’re working on it. :slight_smile:


Good! It is outrageous I live in zone 3 and have to time leaving the office to make one of the two trains an hour I have home.

Given how overcrowded Canada Water gets at rush hour it is ridiculous to push more people that way. It is also a more stressful and longer journey.


I participated in a virtual conference this week where TfL Commissioner Andy Byford was a speaker. I asked about this in context would TfL seek to take over this line. It is a prime candidate to roll into TfL.

He responded that while TfL would like to take over the inner commuter lines, this was not a priority for them and they would not be pursuing this at this time.

I had to get the train home from Canada Water the other evening as I just missed the 19.40 and after an 11 hour working day couldn’t face waiting 30 mins at London Bridge.
Even at 19.50 on a Tuesday the Southbound overground platform was REALLY crowded
so much so I wondered if trains were cancelled or something.
Its deeply unpleasant.
And in the case of the interchange to the northbound Jubilee it feels unsafe.

Funny as they’re all owned by the same company, Govia.

Even worse: a morning change at Crystal Palace from Forest Hill en route to Clapham Junction/Victoria now has a 30+ minute wait rather than the 5-10 mins from previous timetable. So not only no direct trains, but the changeover is a nightmare too.

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If you are going to Clapham Junction or Victoria I would give up on going via Crystal Palace. It is quicker to travel to East Croydon and change onto a fast train. back up to them. It is quicker than the direct train via Crystal Palace when it actually runs.


And coming back if you get the the Bognor train at Victoria at 05 and 35 past the hour there is a good connection at East Croydon back to Forest Hill.

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This Evening I reached London Bridge at 18.05 and saw the trains to FH were 18.10 then 18.40 so it appears that in the evening (rush hour) they’re only every half hour.
downright depressing.
I emailed southern but zero response to my complaint.

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In all seriousness, does anyone who emails Southern expect a productive response? I don’t bother because I appreciate that whichever poor sod who’s been lumbered with such a task has their hands tied by the threat of any litigation launched against their employer [Southern] if they make a mistake or PR blunder. Get used to the bottle neck at Canada Water, friends.

Max - I posted all the details when the new timetable came in so everyone would know that there was only going to be 2 trains an hour on weekdays from London Bridge including the evening peak . Here’s the details again:

London Bridge - Forest Hill (Weekdays)
The 0628, 0658, 0728, 0758, 0828, 0858, 0928, 1728, 1758, 1828, 1858, 1928 and 1958 will no longer operate. There will only be a half-hourly service at 10 and 40 minutes past each hour from 0610 to 2340 plus 2328, 2358 and 0035


It is indeed a very depressing backwards step. As someone fortunate enough to life the Catford side of Forest Hill I’ve started to use the trains back there in an evening. There’s 4 trains an hour and 2 of those only stop at Ladywell before Catford Bridge. Peak time overground, both morning and evening is just too busy.


I usually come home from Charing Cross. There are two trains an hour from Charing Cross to Catford Bridge. They are fast from London Bridge to Ladywell. Very nice!

There are four trains an hour from London Bridge to Catford Bridge. I get the bus back home. There are five busses that come my way. But those who live near Forest Hill station will probably need the 185 bus.


Thanks! I think I mis-understood thinking there would still be 4 trains per hour during peak times-obviously wishful thinking on my part.!