Southeastern customers facing ‘utter misery’ as Sidcup loop faces axe

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents are forced to spend “large amounts of money” getting taxis to their nearest Elizabeth line railway station as a  direct link to the service is not operating.

Southeastern Railway bosses have said they will not be bringing back the Sidcup loop line service in their next timetable, saying it would cost £5million to do so.

A resident at the Greenwich council meeting on Tuesday, March 21 said the punctuality of Southeastern trains had caused “utter misery” and that the company’s business model was “flawed”.

Steve White, managing director of Southeastern, at the Greenwich council transport scrutiny meeting (Picture: Greenwich council)

Last December, a change in Southeastern’s timetable severely reduced the number of trains on the Woolwich and Bexleyheath lines terminating at Charing Cross, with trains now heading for Cannon Street.

The changes also saw the removal of the Sidcup loop line, which gave residents in south Greenwich a direct link to the Abbey Wood Elizabeth line railway station.

Scott Brightwell, operations and safety director of Southeastern, told the transport scrutiny meeting that the loop line was removed to create an even spread of services across the operator’s metro lines.

He said: “The cost of operating that service would be circa £5million, so we understand the requirement, and actually, it would cost more than it would make in terms of revenue.”

Rail minister Huw Merriman said earlier this month that Southeastern had to save £10million due to a loss in season ticket sales after Covid.

Labour councillor Lauren Dingsdale, chairwoman of Greenwich council’s transport scrutiny panel, said there are not any other options for New Eltham and Mottingham residents to get to Abbey Wood railway station.

In response, Steve White, managing director for Southeastern, said that the operator understood the value of the Sidcup loop, and that residents could still travel to Abbey Wood railway station by changing trains at Dartford.

The rail boss also said there was a stronger case to reinstate services to Charing Cross on the Bexleyheath line in the next timetable than there was to bring back the Sidcup loop service, given demand and cost pressures.

Pictured top: A Southeastern Rail train shown at Victoria railway station (Picture: Joe Coughlan)

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