Southern Rail have to go – update from public transport meeting

Councillor Mohammed Seedat and Chuka Umunna MP have called for Transport for London (TFL) to be given complete control over Streatham’s train services after the abysmal performance of Southern Rail for several years.

Key points & campaigns

  1. It is clear Southern Trains cannot and will not ever run a decent, efficient train timetable. Southern Rail must be stripped of running Streatham’s stations and TFL must be allowed to take control instead. We will continue pressuring the government to see through its commitment. It’s the least Streatham commuters deserve.
  2. The Back on Track campaign led by Streatham’s councillors has successfully worked with the government and the Mayor Sadiq Khan already – we have secured the Clean Air Corridor funding for Streatham High Road to introduce less-polluting buses in 2017 and we have got prior agreement from the government for TFL to put Streatham’s train stations on the London Overground travel map. Campaigning will focus on putting Streatham on a proposed Crossrail 2 ‘branch line’.
  3. Streatham has fantastic bus routes on the High Road, but many parts of Streatham have infrequent buses or none at all. Streatham Councillors will continue lobbying TFL for more frequent buses and better east/west bus routes.
  4. Streatham councillors will continue pushing TFL to complete safety work for the St Leonard’s junction, make safety improvements for pedestrians/drivers along the Streatham High Road and to remove the central reservation between Streatham Hill Station and the Streatham Bus Garage.

Streatham Public Transport Question Time

Streatham Action held a well attended ‘Streatham Transport Question Time’ meeting on 25th November 2016 to give key transport decision makers an opportunity to update residents on the campaigns and issues they had tackled in the past year.

The meeting had representatives from TFL, Network Rail, Lambeth Council, Southern Rail and Govia (Thameslink operator). Streatham MP Chuka Umunna, Lambeth Council cabinet member & Streatham Wells councillor Mohammed Seedat and GLA member Caroline Pidgeon (GLA transport committee member) were also on the panel.

Streatham Councillors and Lambeth Council launched the ‘Back on Track’ campaign in January 2015, after a public meeting which showed how frustrated many residents were with the state of public transport in Streatham.

We have lobbied TFL & the government to put Streatham on the London overground map and have secured a commitment from the Mayor that Streatham High Road will be one of the first ‘Clean Air Corridors’ in London.

Clean Air Corridor – successful campaign for a less polluted Streatham High Road

Introducing newer less polluting buses along the A23 next year will have a huge immediate impact on the health and wellbeing of thousands of people. Cllr Amelie Treppass worked with Lambeth Council and Lambeth for a Cool Planet to lobby the new Mayor of London to win this scheme for Streatham.

Cllr Amelie Treppass says ‘The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has made it his personal mission to ensure London has cleaner air. Making Streatham High Road a Clean Air Corridor means TFL will invest money to purchase newer modern buses that pollute less than existing buses – the result will be a less polluted Streatham High Road, cleaner air to breathe and healthier kids and adults”.

Give TFL control and put Streatham train stations on the Overground map

The public meeting was dominated by angry questions aimed at Southern and Govia who continue to run a failing train service in Streatham. Cllr Mohammed Seedat and Chuka Umunna MP made it clear that the railways and stations in Streatham must be handed over to TFL to run as part of the TFL London Overground network (orange line on the tube map).

Lambeth Labour councillors unanimously passed a motion at the October 2016 full council meeting calling on the government to strip Southern of its franchise and have TFL run the network instead.

Back on Track

In early 2016 Streatham councillors and Lambeth Council successfully lobbied the government to hand over the running of Streatham’s stations to TFL – the government agreed. However Prime Minister Theresa May may could go back on her predecessor’s commitment.

Councillor Brathwaite, Cabinet Member for Transport has sought urgent clarification – in a public letter signed by several other south London boroughs – about the government’s willingness to carry out its promise.

 

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Better bus routes, cleaner buses

The bus network in Streatham is key to our public transport network, but is often overshadowed by current woes with the railways and plans for Crossrail. For people on low incomes especially, a bus is the only affordable travel option.

Streatham councillors will continue lobbying TFL and Lambeth Council for updating bus routes that will unlock prosperity for more residents and businesses.

Streatham Wells councillors will continue lobbying TFL for:

  • Better East/West bus connections by extending the 133 bus from Streatham Hub (Streatham Leisure Centre) to West Norwood bus garage
  • Increasing the frequency of the 417 bus along Leigham Court Road
  • Creating a new X109 bus service – express service to Croydon and Brixton
  • Seeing through the introduction of cleaner, less polluting buses in 2017

Crossrail 2?

Chuka Umunna MP, Caroline Pidgeon (GLA Member, Liberal Democrats) and the Lambeth Council transport officer all mentioned the diminishing chances of Crossrail 2 ever going ahead in the near future due to public finances and the low chance of the route changing to accommodate Streatham.

However there is an opportunity to pursue a ‘Plan B’ branch line for Streatham if Crossrail 2 were to go ahead in the future.

So, even if we don’t get our ‘Plan A’ of the main route going through Streatham, we will push for the ‘Plan B’ Crossrail branch line. In the meantime, we will continue to lobby TFL for the main Crossrail 2 line to go through Streatham, knowing that nothing is certain either way until government financing is finalised.

St Leonard’s Junction – crossing

Streatham Councillors have been working with Lambeth Council and TFL to make safety improvements to the notorious St Leonard’s junction. A proper pedestrian crossing has already been consulted upon by TFL but was rejected by respondents.

In October, Cllr Brathwaite, Council Leader Lib Peck and Streatham South Councillor John Kazantsis were given personal re-assurance by TFL Commissioner Mike Brown that pedestrian safety on the junction remains high priority and consultation for a more acceptable solution will commence in February 2017.

TFL’s road engineers have also considered a complete overhaul of the ‘St Leonard’s gyratory’ but the costs and implications are both massive – this idea requires much more detail.

Making Streatham High Road Safer campaign

Residents and campaigners have raised concerns about the fast speeding along the High Road from Streatham Hill station to the South Circular, the misery for drivers and pedestrians that is St Leonard’s junction and general safety concerns for pedestrians on the busy town centre stretch of road.

TFL manages Streatham High Road (A23) and historically have prioritised the smooth/fast movement of vehicles over the needs of pedestrians. Streatham Councillors have worked tirelessly to change that.

In April 2016 Lambeth Council introduced 20mph zones in side-streets and TFL are currently piloting 20mph zones on their roads (major red-routes). If the pilots are successful we will consult residents with TFL about a 20mph zone for Streatham High Road.

Cllr Malcolm Clark says having a new baby to push around in a pram has really highlighted just how dangerous the High Road can be – “wheelchair users, parents pushing prams and the elderly should not feel they are walking along several lanes of speeding cars or have to navigate shop frontages spilling too far into the pavement. Some crossings force people to run across the road because the lights change too quickly. On parts of the Streatham High Road the design encourages fast driving which is why I want to see better road design by TFL and better speed camera enforcement where necessary.”

Streatham councillors continue working with our local MP, Lambeth Council, the SaferA23 campaign group and TFL to make continuous improvements that will make the Streatham High Road safer for everyone.

The council’s ‘Our Streets‘ programme will also be doing the same for some of the main residential roads through our ward. We have identified Leigham Vale, Valley Road, Leigham Avenue and Leigham Court Road for such improvement works in 2017.

Driverless Cars and the future

Cllr Mohammed Seedat mentioned infrastructure for electric driverless cars as a medium/longer term issue for the council. The TFL road engineer on the panel commented about the challenge of driverless cars fighting for space with human driven cars in the very near future.

Cllr Mohammed Seedat says “driverless cars have the potential to completely transform our city and the way we travel. One of the few good things in the government’s 2016 Autumn Statement was the allocation of nearly half a billion pounds to such ‘future tech’. Driverless cars could be one way to ease congestion and make roads safer, provided their introduction is properly managed. It’s a difficult but exciting challenge”.

Well done Streatham Action

Well done Streatham Action for organising another excellent open public meeting about Streatham’s public transport. To keep up to date with news and events check out their website: http://www.streathamaction.org.uk

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