Commuters furious about London Bridge chaos

London Bridge Station. Pic: Thameslink Programme

London Bridge Station. Pic: Thameslink Programme

The turmoil at London Bridge shows little sign of abating as  Lewisham MP, Heidi Alexander and commuters from across the capital,  raise concerns over safety at the overcrowded station.

Changes made earlier this week, to the schedule of trains traveling through London Bridge, have done little to improve the disruptions caused by building works, and in some cases have made journeys worse.

Heidi Alexander, Labour MP for Lewisham East, has reacted to complaints by her constituents by making an application for a Commons debate on the issue.

Alexander wrote an open letter giving details of her conversation with Southeastern Trains: “Ideally all trains which stop at London Bridge in the rush hour should be formed of 12 carriages, which would go some way to easing overcrowding.”

“Clearly anyone who uses Southeastern services, particularly in the peak hours, knows there is a huge problem with overcrowding.”

Station upgrade works for the £6.5bn Government-sponsored Thameslink Programme, set to be completed by August 2016, are the cause of the anger and concern among commuters who have also been hit by new year fare increases.

Over one thousand people have signed a petition asking for more information and honesty on the delay times, as well as a simpler refund system.

Fiona Pattison, the creator of the petition, on, has had to change her usual route to London Bridge to avoid delays, but has told East London Lines that her journey is now longer and more stressful: “Now everyone is doing it, this morning was just a carnage.”

Pattison described arriving each morning to the train platform to find no announcements advising passengers on the arrival of trains, which can be up to 20 minutes late. Once on board she finds the train often stops between platforms adding more delays to the journey.

Social media has been inundated with reports of safety issues because of the overflow of passengers at platforms, as well as reports of fights breaking out as people try to board trains.

Commuter and campaigner Pattison says she is not surprised that a few passengers have turned to violence: “If I had kids to pick up or other commitments, it just seems unfair paying thousands of pounds.”

“The police are there in the morning and the evening to do crowd control, the platforms are so overcrowded, and anyone could easily be pushed onto the tracks. What is it going to take for something to be done about it?”.

The Thameslink Programme website published an apology citing equipment failure as the cause of some of the disruptions.

Simon Blanchflower, Thameslink Programme director, said: “Passengers and operators expect equipment to work reliably and so do we. We realise the quality of the service we have offered around London Bridge has not been good enough this week and we are doing everything we can to get to the root of the problems.”

Video by: Foladele Folana and Jamie Whelan

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