Monday, 12 September 2011

Southwark to be hit hardest by rail cuts

Southwark could be the hardest hit area in the country if proposed cuts go ahead which would leave many railway stations unstaffed.

The Government is considering proposals in a report by businessman Sir Roy McNulty, which recommends cuts of £1 billion across the national network. This was highlighted last week by the TSSA union and reported in the Evening Standard as well as the South London Press.

The TSSA union drew up a “hit list” of 675 ticket offices to be closed nationwide. As there are no platform staff at these stations, they will be left unmanned.

Two stations in Lambeth could be affected: Brixton and Gipsy Hill. But the situation is even worse in Southwark, where eight out of eleven stations in the borough could be impacted, making Southwark stations ‘no-go’ areas for many travelers.

Southwark stations facing cuts: East Dulwich, Elephant and Castle, North Dulwich, Nunhead, Queen's Road Peckham, South Bermondsey, Sydenham Hill and West Dulwich are all listed as part of the “hit list” of 675 ticket offices to be closed nationwide. Only Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye and London Bridge would escape.

This is a case of rail users being kicked when they are down. Fares are already due to increase by 25% over the next three years, meaning lower safety levels at a much higher price. And it will be some of the most vulnerable members of our community who are most affected. With the huge increase in the cost of living, and cuts to benefits and services, more and more have no option but to rely a public transport system which is accessible and affordable.

At a time when the economy is struggling to maintain any momentum at all, as other countries in the world are recognising, we need more investment in transport infrastructure, not less. Indeed, cuts to station staff would be a false economy. Redundancies and the resulting increase in vandalism and other crimes, not to mention the detrimental impact upon rail use itself, call into question any hypothetical savings.

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