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Residents say 'no' to Thameslink Wimbledon loop train cuts
Angry train users were united in protest in Streatham last week against proposed cuts to the Wimbledon loop Thameslink service
Angry train users were united in protest last week against proposed cuts to the Wimbledon loop Thameslink service.
About a hundred people came to Hideaway club where Roger Jones, head of rail franchising for the Department of Transport (DfT), came under fire for failing to properly recognise the vital need for the rail link, on Thursday, August 16.
When asked whether they supported or rejected the plans to terminate trains at Blackfriars from 2018, almost every member of the audience raised their hand to say they did not.
In response Mr Jones made assurances that no decisions had been made, noting the opposition to the plans would be taken into account.
He said: "In terms of have you got the message across... It’s been heard very loud and very clear."
But audience members still felt most train users had been left in the dark about the plans and consultation.
Catherine Russell, who said she risks losing her role in Holby City if she cannot get to work on time, handed out homemade leaflets on the train last week.
She said: "From one end of the train to the other it’s a crowded commuter train. Three people had heard about this consultation. It’s not fair."
Mr Jones replied that it was ‘quite difficult’ to publicise such things, adding that it was not possible to ask every single person and responses were proportional to wider views.
In the face of calls for the three-month consultation period to be extended, he said they would still consider views submitted after its end on Thursday until September.
Mr Jones said: "You cannot have a consultation period that runs forever."
Ronny Baxter stood up in the meeting to say she had bought a house in Streatham a few months ago because of the Thameslink service.
Ms Baxter said: "I want to know why the why the degradation of the service is even on the table.
"Once you degrade the service it’s never coming back again. We are never going to get that service back."
Colin Fenn, vice-chairman of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, asked why people were not engaged prior to the engineering works at Blackfriars.
Mr Fenn said: "I really grateful to you for treading into the lion’s den.
"If only one of colleagues had done this four years ago when engineering documents were being produced."
Thousands of commuters from South London use the Wimbledon loop service which stops at stations in Wimbledon, Sutton and Streatham.
The DfT consultation, about which train routes will continue to pass through the Thameslink core, is taking place in advance of the refranchising of Thameslink services.
National Rail recommends the Wimbledon loop services should start and terminate at Blackfriars.
Lambeth Councillor Jeremy Clyne, who organised the meeting, said time was running out for people make their views heard. Coun Clyne said: "It would be a retrograde step, one might say going back to the dark ages before the Victorians established the route."
Merton Council’s leader, Stephen Alambritis, said councillors and people from different political parties were uniting on the issue.
Coun Alambritis said: "The all-party element is crucial and I hope that comes across tonight."
The consultation ends on Thursday. You can email views to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Combined Franchise Replacement Sponsor, Department for Transport, Zone 3/15, Great Minister House, 33 Horseferry Road, SW1P 4DR.