Chris Grayling the Conservatives transport secretary visited Eltham to give reassurances over the future Southeastern train services.
Concerns have been expressed over the suggestion services could be “simplified” in the document for the ongoing consultation which he launched. There has been alarm over the suggestion that the trains via Bexleyheath, with stops in Eltham and Blackheath, should only go to Cannon Street. Currently trains on the line also go to Victoria and Charing Cross.
Mr Grayling told The Mercury: “My main message that I wanted to get across in my visit, which is a subject of great debate, is over the options on the Southeastern consultation. The first point is that all we want to do is improve rail services. The second is that we are not going to make any changes to the services which people don’t want. It is a genuine consultation and we want to improve trains at peak times. We would like to see longer trains from this part of London and think this would make a really big difference. Simplifying the lines is just one of the options we are asking the public about – but it is a genuine consultation we would not do what will cause people great unhappiness.”
The transport secretary has abeen slammed for deciding that London|Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London should not take control of Southeastern’s metro network, despite their success in running the Overground.
Mr Grayling also told The Mercury the Tories are “cautiously optimistic” their parliamentary candidate Matt Hartley will win the marginal seat previously held for Labour by Clive Efford.He said: “We are very focused on trying to win Eltham and feel a Conservative would benefit the residents here. But we are not taking anything for granted.
Mr Hartley invited Mr Grayling to visit Eltham to address concerns over the ongoing consultation on the future of the commuter train services. Both he and rival Clive Efford have strongly opposed any suggestion that Bexleyheath line trains could go to Cannon Street only in the future.
He said: “For the last few months I have been encouraging as many fellow commuters as possible to take part in the consultation, to make clear the need to maintain services to Charing Cross and Victoria. It is vital that local people make our views known. If elected as our MP on 8th June, I will continue to make this case to Ministers – and fight for the improvements that long-suffering commuters sorely need.”
The consultation deadline has been extended until June 30