The Forest Hill Society joined forces with seven other civic societies to hand out thousands of leaflets this week in a bid to raise commuter awareness of train service cuts due to start next month.
From December 13 train company Southern will no longer provide trains to Charing Cross, a change that will affect commuters boarding at Brockley, New Cross Gate, Honor Oak Park, Sydenham and Forest Hill.
Southern also plans to reduce the number of trains travelling between Sydenham and London Bridge in the afternoons and evenings in order to make way for the East London Line overground service in May 2010.
Richard Hibbert, Chair of the Forest Hill Society, said: “This is one of the busiest lines in south London … We need more capacity to and from central London, not less.”
Lewisham Council has demanded an explanation from rail bosses after hearing of the plans. Green Party councilor Dean Walton said: “The whole council has spoken with one voice to say these cuts are unacceptable.”
Southern say the cuts are out of their hands. The results of a formal consultation held in March last year gave rival company Southeastern greater access to Charing Cross routes and forced Southern to cut their services. “There will be no train paths or platforms available to us”, a spokesperson said.
The total number of trains running through the affected south-east stations will actually double from six an hour to twelve. However, eight of those trains will be East London Line services.
Mr. Hibbert, said: “The East London Line goes to the wrong place; most of the 15,000 commuters who use this line each morning work in central London, not Canary Wharf.”
Commuter Trudy Peeler, 33, who lives in Nunhead but works in the City said: “I think it’s really stupid. I live here because it’s easy to get to the City. You can’t get on the trains as it is. If they cut the number of trains … I’d probably just change my route completely.”
The Forest Hill Society has started an online petition to oppose the cuts. Over 2,000 people have signed it so far. They will continue to leaflet stations next week and to pressure the Minister of Transport for a meeting.
You can sign the petition at http://NoToTrainCuts.notlong.com