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Rail users warned of more delays

David Ward

Dave Ward said Network Rail had hoped to present a new station after ‘months of misery’

London Bridge commuters are being warned to expect more cancellations, delays and overcrowding as the railway station undergoes redevelopment.

Network Rail has admitted the situation was “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” and said it stemmed from an ineffectual timetable which did not fit the new infrastructure.

The station is being rebuilt for the Thameslink Programme.

London mayor Boris Johnson is set to meet the company on Thursday.

On Tuesday Network Rail said congestion caused by earlier delays had held up Southern and Thameslink services to and from London Bridge by 30 minutes.

London Bridge station at 18:00 on 5 JanuaryThe scene at London Bridge station at 18:00 on Monday
London BridgePassengers had to wait for trains on a crowded concourse for a second evening on Tuesday

Passengers complained that the delays were causing “dangerous levels” of congestion on the concourse.

Valerie Shawcross, Labour transport spokeswoman at City Hall, tweeted on Tuesday: “London Bridge concourse packed again tonight @networkrail seem to have no idea about safe crowd management.”


Analysis by BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards

This is horrendously embarrassing for Network Rail. The upgrade at London Bridge is the jewel in its billion pound Thameslink upgrade programme and so far it hasn’t worked.

One rail boss said to me: “They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

The new infrastructure – the platforms and signalling – can’t cope with the number of trains so they’re having to amend the timetable.

What will worry commuters is this is just the start – there are years left of work at the station.

Already MPs are calling for compensation for passengers. After the problems at Kings Cross at Christmas, Network Rail is having a shocking few weeks. The question is, will there be consequences?


Network Rail told BBC London’s transport correspondent Tom Edwards that commuters should expect more cancelled trains later on Wednesday and advised people to check their service before travelling.

Dave Ward, Network Rail South East route managing director, said: “I’m sorry. We absolutely apologise.

“We thought we would be presenting a new station and a new method of operation after several months of misery leading up to it and that hasn’t happened and I’m deeply regretful for it.”

He said the “train plan itself, although modelled extensively all the way through, does not appear to be working sufficiently robustly with the new infrastructure”.

Crowds of people outside barricaded entrance to Finsbury Park train stationOver Christmas delays and rerouting led to the closure of Finsbury Park station

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “The mayor shares the frustration of commuters and sympathises with them over the enormous inconvenience they’ve endured.

“The mayor wants to hear what went wrong, and to understand what lessons can be learned.”

Mr Johnson is also due to discuss the “chaotic scenes” at Finsbury Park over Christmas.

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