Streatham and Lambeth Council's long-term transport strategy priorities

Image of an old south London tram representing the sire state of public transport in Streatham and the lack of planning to do anything about it

BY: Helen Smith With no quick fix in sight, either from Southern Rail or Network Rail franchises, Lambeth Council are pressed to make Streatham a key priority for its new long-term transport strategy plan in bid to improve the areas dire transport links and aid regeneration.

Lambeth Council's Long Term (2016-36) Transport Strategy Plan Confusion At the packed public meeting held at Immanuel and St Andrew's Church Hall on Thursday 24th November, hosted by the civic group, Streatham Action, the chair of the meeting, Neil Salt, let it be known - to a loud round of applause - to the Lambeth Council Cabinet member present, Cllr Mohammed Seedat, that it was totally unacceptable to the residents of Streatham that Streatham does not currently feature as one of the target areas of key focus in the first draft of Lambeth Council's Long Term (2016-36) Transport Strategy plan. This replicated a similar comment made by him to Lambeth Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 16 November that had transport as its key theme.

As things stand currently, Vauxhall, Brixton and Waterloo are specified as the 3 key areas for "transport schemes" that will be needed to support growth and regeneration.

Cllr Seedat agreed to feed back the view of the meeting to the Lambeth officials who are responsible for finalising the first draft of this report. Southern Rail - “shabby and disgraceful services”, “should be stripped of franchise” says Streatham MP Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham criticised, in no uncertain terms, the “shabby and disgraceful services” provided by Southern/GTR and also highlighted the “creaky infrastructure” around which Network Rail operates. He called upon the Department for Transport to hold “Southern’s feet to the fire” and reminded the meeting as to his petition campaign that calls on the Government to terminate the Southern franchise immediately and to bring services under the control of TfL.

Aside from three representatives from Southern Rail and one from Network Rail, there were two representatives present on the panel from TfL – one who spoke on rail issues and one on road issues.

TfL confirmed their interest in being assigned responsibility for providing a “stop and go” service either subsequent to the end of the current Southern franchise agreement – 2021 – or prior to that under any rail devolution proposal that is currently being considered by the new Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling. One of the Southern Rail representatives informed the audience about a consultation currently being run on-line until early December that would lead to significantly more trains being run per hour during peak periods from Streatham station from 2018.

The meeting was, however, left in some doubt as to the promises emanating from either Southern Rail or TfL when it emerged, in answer to a follow-up question put by Neil Salt to the Network Rail representative, that currently 65% of all delay minutes endured by Southern Rail and Thameslink passengers are down to Network Rail issues! Infrastructure at breaking point, admits Network Rail Both TfL and Network Rail lamented that the infrastructure they supply to Streatham is already stretched to full capacity, and vulnerable to collapse at the slightest additional stress.

This gives yet further credence to Streatham Action’s and Lambeth Council’s campaign to bring CR2 to Streatham and thereby allow for Streatham to play its part not only in providing significant congestion relief on the Northern Line and along the A23, but also in providing much needed further economic regeneration to this part of south London.

The TfL spokesperson on road issues confirmed that the A23 was already running to capacity and with a similar level of stress to the trains. Any thought, therefore, of adding further bus routes specifically along the A23 corridor is likely only to worsen the situation on the A23 rather than to improve it.

Panel members from each of Southern Rail, Network Rail, TfL and Lambeth Council confirmed their agreement to attend a follow-up Streatham Action-led public meeting in six months’ time in order to report back further both as to improvements made, and to any further developments that may have transpired, during the intervening period. Streatham Action Transport Committee