Lewisham Southeastern train cuts ‘risk women’s safety’

Women’s safety will be put at risk if train company Southeastern pushes ahead with cuts, a Lewisham MP has warned.

Labour’s Janet Daby said mothers had been contacting her worried about their daughters’ safety, since the timetable changes were announced last week. 

Train operator Southeastern is axing off-peak direct trains from Charing Cross to a number of stations in South East London, including Blackheath in Lewisham.

Charing Cross is a popular point of departure for people heading into the West End and Soho for after-work and weekend drinks. 

Passengers will now have to change at London Bridge if they want to catch a train to or back from Charing Cross between 10am and 4pm and after 7pm on weekdays and all day on Saturdays.

The other stations which will lose their off-peak connections to Charing Cross are Woolwich in Greenwich and Bexleyheath in Bexley.

Lewisham East MP Janet Daby, whose constituency Blackheath falls in, has now written to Southeastern boss Steve White calling on him to reconsider the new timetable which will come into place on December 11. 

In a letter dated October 5, she wrote: “Many constituents have raised the point that vulnerable people travelling back from the Charing Cross area will be adversely impacted by the termination of off-peak trains leaving the station. 

“I have also had mothers contacting me saying they are anxious this will be a less safe alternative for their daughters travelling back late at night than the current direct service.”

She added that the timetable changes appeared to have been prompted by the opening of the Elizabeth line.

But Ms Daby said people in her constituency lived too far away from stations on the new line to take advantage of it.

She continued: “One local resident has told me that she recently accepted a job commuting into west London for two days a week.

“Yet these timetable changes will greatly reduce her ability to get to work on time.” 

A petition on Change.org calling for Southeastern to keep off-peak trains to Charing Cross via Blackheath, Bexleyheath and Woolwich has racked up 3,666 signatures in two weeks. 

A spokesperson from Southeastern said: “Broadly, the new timetable reflects the change in peak-time demand following the pandemic and the new preference for travel, but still maintains peak-time space on trains to match demand from those who need these services.”

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