TRISH LEADS THE FIGHT FOR A BETTER TRAIN SERVICE

R and T at station smallMany of our residents commute to London by train, and the combination of good schools, low crime, a green and leafy borough and proximity to local railway stations is what attracts many London commuters to Sutton South Ward.

For this reason we are concerned at the reports we get from many residents that the train service is not adequate. Both of us have, at times, been commuters into central London and we know the frustrations. In September Trish made an impassioned speech to Sutton Council on the problems residents have experienced, quoting the stories residents have shared with us of cancelled services and broken down trains. The Council called on the Government to review the franchise of Southern Railway and Govia, and implement stringent penalties for failure to deliver an adequate service.

Since Richard was elected he has fought successful campaigns to save the Thameslink service and to get the side entrance to Sutton station open. We are now campaigning to get Network Rail to increase the capacity of the station car park. We want to monitor the performance of the railway so please continue to contact us with your thoughts and experiences.

tunnel train

COUNCIL OPPOSES THREATENED CLOSURE OF SUTTON STATION TICKET OFFICE

R and T at station small

Southern have been consulting on certain changes to Sutton station that will involve the closure of the ticket office. The details are on their website at

www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/station-information/changes-to-the-opening-hours-of-ticket-offices

Richard and Trish have helped draft the response from the Council, opposing this change. The following is an extract from the lengthy and considered Council response.

“The Council strongly objects to the proposed closure of Sutton ticket office. Sutton is the 6 th busiest station on the Southern network and 7th busiest in south London, having almost 7 million passenger entries and exits per annum. The Council has major growth plans for Sutton, a Metropolitan town centre, in terms of housing and employment, which will result in a significant increase in station usage over the next decade. The Council has also recently completed the Station Gateway scheme at Sutton, which made some significant improvements to area outside the station, as well as opening the side entrance. The ticket office at Sutton is well used most of the time and there is often a queue. We consider that the ticket office at Sutton should remain open during the peak times at least, and this should include the busy periods at weekends when there are a considerable number of leisure and infrequent passengers who do not have smartcards and may need advice or help. Outside peak times sufficient staff should be available on the concourse to sell tickets and assist passengers with the machines. As the station concourse in front of the ticket barriers at Sutton is quite small and congested we would suggest having a station host desk or podium in the existing ticket hall with a formal queuing system as for the ticket office. Many stations in your “Model 3″ outside London have much lower usage than Sutton yet are to retain their ticket office, and we consider it is important that this major London Metropolitan town centre should retain a ticket office facility.”

We have reproduced below some of the key points made by Southern, taken from their website. Most residents use the train service from Sutton station from time to time and those we have discussed this issue with support our view that this is a proposal we should object to.

CHANGES AT SUTTON STATION

Southern point out that the majority of customers use ticket machines rather than the ticket office. They propose to establish a “station hosting point” with the staff available on the concourse, able to sell the full range of tickets from first to last train. They propose to move staff onto the concourse as ‘Station Hosts’

The website states that Station Hosts will be:

  • visible and available from first service until the last, which is longer than current ticket office hours
  • trained in customer service
  • able to sell tickets and provide information using a new handheld device
  • helping passengers use the ticket machines

Sutton station will have a Host on duty at specified times, Monday to Friday 5.25 to 23.00, Saturday 6.25 to 23.00, Sunday 7.00 to 23.00, these being in excess of the current ticket office hours as the ticket office closes at 9pm. The Host will provide assistance with ticket purchases, information provision and assisted travel. The Host will have a hand held ticketing system that will enable them to provide tickets that are not available from the self-service machines.

The Ticket Office will close. The primary point for purchasing tickets on the station will be from the self-service machines or from the Station Host. In the event that a ticket type is not available through these machines then the Host will have access to a ticket office machine within the concourse area to enable those ticket types to be issued.

Southern State “At some of our stations we know that our ticket offices sell fewer than 12 tickets per hour and the vast majority of customers don’t use the ticket offices on a daily basis. At these stations, we want our staff to become more available for all users of the station and ensure there is a visible presence on our station concourses where they can help customers with all of their queries, provide information, offer assistance and have the ability to sell tickets when needed.

At some of our busier stations, we want to relocate the ticket selling equipment to a station hosting point so the staff are available on the concourse, able to sell the full range of tickets but for longer times than today.

We believe that this will provide an improved customer experience, with all the affected stations being staffed from the very first to last train, 7 days a week. Facilities such as waiting rooms will be open for longer and Station Hosts will be available answering customer queries, providing advice and assisting with ticket purchases.”

 

“GATEWAY” PROJECT COMES IN ON BUDGET

The old side entrance - shuttered and barricaded

The old side entrance – shuttered and barricaded

The New Entrance - open all day every day

The New Entrance

The £1.2 million Sutton Gateway project – largely financed by Transport for London – has come in £8 000 within budget, a remarkable degree of accuracy.

The main success for Sutton South Ward residents, in particular those who commute to central London, is the opening of the side entrance to Sutton station. The side entrance is now open from 6am to 11pm seven days a week. The cycle racks next to the side entrance have been improved and the number of racks doubled.

The project further developed the area around Sutton station with:

– newly planted trees to improve the look of the area

– more lighting and CCTV cameras to make the area safer

– extra cycling facilities, with new bike racks and shelters

– the town centre clock

– a re-arrangement of the bus stops to reduce congestion

– re-design of the Cedar Road / Brighton Road junction to improve visibility for motorists

– after 6.30 some taxis can park immediately opposite the station, with the bus stop previously opposite the station moved further down Brighton Road to ease congestion of buses at peak times

– the timing of the pedestrian crossing at the High Street / Grove Road / Sutton Court Road junction has been amended to give more time to cross

– the number of parking spaces in the station area has been increased

– general improvements in design and to the “public realm” around the station, with more flowers, more colour and better signage

– new “legible London” signs based on this design, still to be installed.

legible london sign

These changes are largely funded by grants the Council has obtained, not local Council tax payers.

The results of the earlier consultation exercise on the Gateway Project indicated general support for the scheme, but we were able to make a number of changes to respond to specific issues raised. In our Ward, a particular concern for the businesses was the need for a loading bay on Regents Parade just south of the station. We successfully lobbied for this to be incorporated into the scheme.

The improvements attributable to the Gateway project are complemented by the installation of the new zebra crossing in Cedar Road, which was not part of the project.

NEW CROSSING IN CEDAR ROAD – COMPLEMENTING THE GATEWAY PROJECT

zebra crossing cedar

After a long campaign initially led by Richard and former Councillor Heather Honour, more lately by Richard and Trish, the new zebra crossing in Cedar Road is there. This project began some years ago when we obtained funding for a survey of traffic speeds in the Ward which identified Cedar Road and Cavendish Road as speeding hot spots. The new traffic islands in Cavendish Road have reduced speeds. People will doubtless think the Cedar Road zebra crossing is part of the Sutton Gateway project, but in fact it is a separate project.

The Gateway project should be completed in the next month and has smartened up the station area.

The project aims to further develop the area around Sutton station, including by:

– refitted shop fronts, new paving and newly planted trees to improve the look of the area

– more lighting and CCTV cameras to make the area safer

– extra cycling facilities, with new bike racks and shelters

– a town centre clock

– less crowded pavements and bus shelters

–  a new crossing in Brighton Road.

IS THE TRAIN SERVICE DETERIORATING ?

tunnel train

Many Sutton South residents commute into London for work so the quality of the train service is vital to us.

Work continues to improve Sutton station, with the new side entrance now
to be opened for longer hours and the Sutton Gateway project improving the
look of the front of the station. But residents in Sutton South Ward who
commute into London tell us that the quality of the train service has deteriorated in the past 6 months. Just two years ago our campaign to
preserve the Thameslink route from Sutton through to north London was
successful, but now the quality of service
has fallen. Paul Burstow, Trish and Richard have started a new campaign to fight for better rail services. We have been handing out surveys at Sutton train station to get residents’ views. If you have an experience to share, get in touch – specific examples will help the campaign

SIDE ENTRANCE TO THE STATION OPEN

best statiion small

 

Here is Councillor Simon Wales, chair of the Sutton Gateway Project Board (on which Richard represents Sutton South), cutting the ribbon to open the side entrance on 26 September.

simon at station

And, below, this is what it used to looks like – shuttered and barricaded.

side entrance

Work is completed and the new side entrance to Sutton station is open. Hooray.

A further meeting of the project board guiding the Sutton Gateway project, a board on which Richard represents Sutton South Ward, heard on 25 September that good progress is being made with the scheme.

The most important news is that the building work on the side entrance is completed enabling the passageway from The Quadrant to be restored and the side entrance to be opened for passenger use. The side entrance is open from 7am to 7pm.The cycle racks next to the newly opened side entrance have been improved.

Work at the front of the station commenced in September and will be completed by March 2015, but with no work over the Christmas period to avoid any inconvenience to shoppers. Some of the work will involve traffic diversions.

The project’s proposals to further develop the area around Sutton station include:

– refitted shop fronts, new paving and newly planted trees to improve the look of the area

– more lighting and CCTV cameras to make the area safer

– extra cycling facilities, with new bike racks and shelters

– a town centre clock

–  a new crossing in Brighton Road

– the opening of the side entrance to Sutton station

– new “legible London” signs

– a re-arrangement of the bus stops to reduce congestion

– an additional crossing for pedestrians outside the station

– re-design of the Cedar Road / Brighton Road junction to improve visibility for motorists

– it is not proposed to move the taxi rank, except that after 6.30 some taxis will be able to park immediately opposite the station, with the bus stop opposite the station moved further down Brighton Road and with some buses stopping in Mulgrave Road

–  there will be “live” bus information in Sutton station, subject to further research by Network Rail

– the timing of the pedestrian crossing at the High Street / Grove Road / Sutton Court Road junction will be amended to give more time to cross

– the number of parking spaces in the station area will be increased

– general improvements in design and to the “public realm” around the station, with more flowers, more colour and better signage.

The changes, including the changes to the bus stops, will be completed by March 2015.

These changes are largely funded by grants the Council has obtained, not local Council tax payers.

The results of the earlier consultation exercise on the Gateway Project indicated general support for the scheme, but we were able to make a number of changes to respond to specific issues raised. In our Ward, a particular concern for the businesses was the need for a loading bay on Regents Parade just south of the station. We successfully lobbied for this to be incorporated into the scheme.

On 27 February Richard and former Ward Councillor Heather Honour organised a breakfast meeting with local businesses in our Ward to take their views on the Sutton Gateway project. Several joined us in the Rose Café in the Brighton Road, which serves excellent scrambled eggs (Richard’s breakfast). This is right in the area that is to be developed so we were able to chat and walk round the area to see the proposed changes.

Public consultation on the emerging proposals ran till 5 March. Consultation was by leaflets in the locality, questionnaires to members of the public, posters, newspaper advertisements, exhibitions, further “stakeholder” meetings and putting information in Sutton station.

Residents and businesses close to the station were consulted, together with the emergency services and other groups with a major interest such as Network Rail, Southern Rail and TfL.

Also of great value will be the “legible London” signs at the station entrance. See the designs at

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/microsites/legible-london/3.aspx

legible london sign

Richard says “As a local man who for twenty years of my life commuted to central London by a route that meant I walked every working day along Wellesley Road and past the shuttered and barricaded side entrance, to enter the station from the front, it has long been an objective of mine to get the side entrance open. Every second counts when you are a commuter.”

SUTTON STATION PROJECT STEAMING AHEAD

 

The side entrance

The side entrance

Since they were elected Richard and Heather have campaigned for the opening of the side entrance to Sutton station. We are now reasonably certain that this ambition will be realised by next February.

On 10 September Richard attended the Project Board for the Sutton Gateway Project. This project is designed to improve the “Gateway to Sutton” from the south, along the Brighton Road and around Sutton station. The main elements include:

– opening the side entrance to the station

– further development of the facilities for cyclists

– re-design of the steep steps up to the side entrance so they are at an acceptable angle

– better landscaping, street furniture and paving around this area and the station entrance area.

 The station manager confirmed that the side entrance would be manned from 7am to 7pm and at other times open but monitored on screens at the front entrance.

Richard says “For twenty years of my life I commuted into London for work, walking every morning past the barricaded and barriered side entrance round to the front to catch (or just miss) my train, and in the evening – since the station is officially classified as overcrowded – shuffling in a mass of people to get out the front. All our local residents who commute to London, walking down Wellesley Road from the east end of the Ward, will benefit from the overdue decision to open the side entrance. And it will benefit all those who arrive at Sutton station to work in The Quadrant.”

The project will also involve some re-design of the Cedar Road junction, long a concern of ours, and a “stakeholder group” to include trepresntatives of the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association and the Highfields Residents’ Association will be asked to comment on design issues.

OPENING THE SIDE ENTRANCE TO SUTTON STATION

side entrance

Ever since we were elected in2010 we have been pursuing an objective to get the side entrance to Sutton station opened as a second entrance.

There are several reasons for this, and it is a particular passion for Richard who for over 20 years of his life commuted from his home in The Ridgway to central London for work, running (as he was usually late for his train) past the shuttered and barricaded side entrance to the station to enter by the front, then in the evening shuffling (as the station is officially classified as overcrowded) to get out the front, when he could have left by the side. There are many residents of our Ward who commute to central London for work and approach the station from the Wellesley Road direction, so have the same experience every working day as Richard had. But opening the side entrance will also make The Quadrant and the bike rack more accessible.

Today, 25 July, is likely to be seen as the day we were able to be sure the side entrance will open next year.

Today there was the first meeting of the Sutton Gateway project board, of which Richard is a member. There were discussions involving the Council, Network Rail and Transport for London. It was confirmed that the firm intention, now, is to open the side entrance. The project is more complex than simply putting a row of entrance gates where the shutter closing the side entrance is currently situated. There will be some re-building of the side entrance, a canopy, gates and the very steep flight of stairs (too steep to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act) will be replaced by a flight at right angles to the current flight of stairs, at a more gradual gradient.

Richard said “This is exciting news for Sutton South residents. The campaign we started in 2010 has succeeded.”

R and H at side entrance

MAJOR STEP FORWARD IN OUR CAMPAIGN TO OPEN SUTTON STATION SIDE ENTRANCE

sutton station entrance 2

Our long-running campaign to open the side entrance to Sutton station has taken a major step forward, with the acceptance of the Council’s submission to Transport for London of a bid for £740 000 worth of funding under the TfL Major Projects scheme.

The project, known as the Sutton Station Gateway Major Scheme bid, will need to be the subject of further negotiation, so is not finally home and dry, but we are hopeful that it will proceed next year following confirmation from Transport for London that the bid was successful. We have been awarded £740,000 for this scheme in the 2013/14 financial year.

Richard says “We have made this a major campaign since we were elected. Initial setbacks, such as the rejection of a bid by the Mayor under the Outer London Fund Scheme, have not deterred us. If this now goes ahead it will be good news for the residents of Sutton South Ward, particularly  who commute from Sutton station, giving easier access to the station and an improved frontage in The Quadrant.”

Sutton station is the 5th busiest in South London, and the 27th busiest in the whole of Greater London, with almost 6 million passenger movements every year. It is one of 18 stations in London identified by TfL as suffering significant congestion problems.

The main elements in the scheme not only include opening the side entrance but extensive landscaping to improve the appearance of what will in effect be a new entrance from The Quadrant. The main elements include:

* Opening up the side entrance to the station to improve station access and egress, improve the streetscape and improve pedestrian access to the station
 * Public realm and footway improvements in The Quadrant and at the front of the station
 * Bus stop improvements at the front of the station to improve passenger experience
 * “De-cluttering” and harmonisation of street furniture and materials
* Junction and crossing improvements on walking routes to the station
 * Road safety improvements
 * Additional cycle parking and cycle lanes, and
  * Improved street lighting.

Benefits of the scheme will include reduced pedestrian journey times between the station and The Quadrant, the station car park and the Langley Park Road area, as well as reduced congestion within the station main entrance and at the barriers.

Opening the side entrance at Sutton Station will cater for the considerable demand for direct access to the station from the Quadrant House office block, which houses Reed Business Information (with approximately 2,000 employees, about one third of whom travel to work by train) and a number of other expanding companies, together with the Tudor Court office block, which houses Synergy UK. The new entrance will also serve the large station car park (which Network Rail wish to expand), and the motorcycle and cycle parking areas, which generate considerable demand for access from that side of the station. There is also direct footpath access between The Quadrant and Langley Park Road and surrounding residential streets, well-used by rail passengers. These station users currently have to walk around the side to the front of the station on a convoluted route and negotiate busy footways, bus stops and the station entrance. Most of these passengers are likely to have season tickets, and opening up the side entrance will significantly reduce their journey times and congestion outside and in the entrance hall of the main station entrance.
 
While the Council has been lobbying for the opening up of the side entrance since the entrance was created with a retractable shutter ten years ago, the campaign took on new impetus when Richard and Heather were elected in 2010. The entrance is opened up when rail replacement buses are used during engineering work, as the buses stop in The Quadrant. This demonstrates that it is possible to open and use the entrance. Southern has supported the opening in principle, subject to funding being available to provide the barriers etc. Network Rail has also supported the scheme in principle and has assisted with business case work.
 
We will keep readers advised of further progress in the negotiations that are now underway. At the Council meeting on 14 January Richard sought re-assurance that elements such as lighting in the Quadrant and cycle parking will not be lost.

BID TO OPEN SIDE ENTRANCE TO SUTTON STATION ENTERS NEW PHASE

The latest phase of our long-running campaign to open the side entrance to Sutton station has entered a new phase with the Council’s submission to Transport for London of a bid for funding under the TfL Major Projects scheme.

Sutton station is the 5th busiest in South London, and the 27th busiest in the whole of Greater London, with almost 6 million passenger movements every year. It is one of 18 stations in London identified by TfL as suffering significant congestion problems.

The main elements in the scheme would not only include opening the side entrance but extensive landscaping to improve the appearance of what would in effect be a new entrance from The Quadrant. The main elements include:

* Opening up the side entrance to the station to improve station access and egress, improve the streetscape and improve pedestrian access to the station
 * Public realm and footway improvements in The Quadrant and at the front of the station
 * Bus stop improvements at the front of the station to improve passenger experience
 * “De-cluttering” and harmonisation of street furniture and materials
* Junction and crossing improvements on walking routes to the station
 * Road safety improvements
 * Additional cycle parking and cycle lanes, and
  * Improved street lighting.

Benefits of the scheme will include reduced pedestrian journey times between the station and The Quadrant, the station car park and the Langley Park Road area, as well as reduced congestion within the station main entrance and at the barriers.

 
 
 
 

Opening the side entrance at Sutton Station would cater for the considerable demand for direct access to the station from the Quadrant House office block, which houses Reed Business Information (with approximately 2,000 employees, about one third of whom travel to work by train) and a number of other expanding companies, together with Tudor Court office block, which houses Synergy UK. The new entrance would also serve the large station car park (which Network Rail wish to expand), and the motorcycle and cycle parking areas, which generate considerable demand for access from that side of the station. There is also direct footpath access between The Quadrant and Langley Park Road and surrounding residential streets, well-used by rail passengers. These station users currently have to walk around the side to the front of the station on a convoluted route and negotiate busy footways, bus stops and the station entrance. Most of these passengers are likely to have season tickets, and opening up the side entrance would significantly reduce their journey times and congestion outside and in the entrance hall of the main station entrance.
The Council has been lobbying for the opening up of the side entrance since it was created over ten years ago with a retractable shutter. The entrance is opened up when rail replacement buses are used during engineering work, as the buses stop in The Quadrant. This demonstrates that it is possible to open up and allow passengers to use this entrance in principle. Southern support the opening in principle, subject to funding being available to provide the barriers etc. Network Rail also supports the scheme in principle and has assisted with initial business case work.
We will keep you advised of progress.