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14.04.15

Greenwich council demands Network Rail ends London Bridge ‘misery’

After thousands of passengers faced further chaos and disruption at London Bridge station yesterday, the Royal Borough of Greenwich is demanding action from Network Rail to end the “ongoing misery” and “uncertainty” of rail travel during its redevelopment. 

Rail bosses have, once again, apologised to passengers travelling through the station after Monday morning rush hour services were disrupted by “a series of unrelated signal problems in the area” – causing delays of up to 90 minutes. 

Passengers eventually arriving in the capital were faced by even more misery as the Circle Line was closed and District Line part-suspended due to another signal fault, causing congestion around the network. 

Royal Greenwich council stated that “enough is enough” and it has been “inundated” with complaints about the service and is pushing for the earliest possible meeting with bosses at Network Rail to rethink the management of the project and improve communications with rail users so that people can plan their journeys with certainty. 

Cllr Danny Thorpe, Royal Greenwich cabinet member for Regeneration and Transport, said: “Thousands of our residents and businesses depend on the rail network to go about their daily business and the on-going delays and cancellations are causing misery to many. Enough is enough.  

“We have worked closely with Network Rail to improve communications to passengers but much, much more is needed. The whole project is causing such adverse effects on people's lives that we believe a renewed approach to managing this complex project, with appropriate compensation for those affected, is needed.

“The project is not scheduled for completion until summer 2018 and it is inconceivable that the current situation can continue without a drastic rethink and a communications system introduced that allows people to make plans with confidence.”

According to Network Rail, seven separate signal failures occurred between Deptford, New Cross and London Bridge as a result of cable damage and equipment failure. 

Route managing director for the south east, Alasdair Coates, said: “I apologise for what has been a very difficult journey to work for people. We are investigating what on initial inspection appear to be several unrelated faults on the lines between Deptford, New Cross and London Bridge. 

“Many of those faults were repaired before 8am but by that point the damage was done and trains were severely delayed as a result. We recognise the importance of this station to London and we will do everything we can to find out what went wrong.” 

Last week, new data from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) revealed that delays, cancellations and overcrowding on commuter train services (excluding the Underground and Overground) is one of the top issues negatively affecting their business. 

Approximately 40% of the 500 businesses polled by ComRes for LCCI said that poor reliability and punctuality of commuter train services into the capital was one of the top three issues affecting their business. 

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive at LCCI, said: “It is simply intolerable that poor quality train services into and out of London are having such a significant impact on the capital's businesses. 

“The time has now come to stop moaning about the problems and start to look for solutions. We urge the new government to look to devolve responsibility for commuter train services into the capital to Transport for London.” 

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