Thursday 16 August 2012

Commuting from South East London - GLIAS Newsletter

The latest GLIAS newsletter has arrived - and contains the following article about our local train services.

Do people think this is true?? Answers in our comments column please.


The weekday peak periods at London railway termini are bad, but are those at London Bridge the worst of all?  This congested station on a relatively narrow site is shortly to be dramatically rebuilt in an effort to improve the  situation (GLlAS Newsletter 257, p7) and a new line is already under construction to the southwest of the  station.

Evidence suggests that on trains to and from South East London travelling has generally been bad for a long time. R W Kidner on page 24 of his book 'The Southern Railway' (1958) mentions newspaper headlines such as 'appalling scenes at Charing Cross' and 'Girls crushed at Waterloo'. However, it is not clear if the incident at Waterloo was at Waterloo East or the main line terminus. Mention of fights breaking out at London Bridge  among frustrated passengers can be found on the internet, eg during hot weather in June last year and a 25-year- old woman, an architect from Lewisham, was mugged last September with little reaction from surrounding  passengers (Evening Standard 14 March 2012, p22).

Southern Region's Kentish lines were the most densely occupied in the world; see LTC Rolt, Red for Danger  (Pan 1966) page 275. It was in South East London that the Bullied 'double-deck' trains were introduced in aattempt to pack more people onto a train of given length. These 4 - DD units held 122 more passengers than a  standard four-car train and first appeared from Lancing Works at the end of 1949. They ran from Charing Cross  to Dartford, and sometimes on to Gravesend and elsewhere. Accounts from people who commuted on theses  trains suggest that the experience was unpleasant and they were withdrawn on 1 st October 1971. Platforms were  lengthened and standard 10 car trains used instead. Two of the 4 - DD coaches have been preserved.

Ladies-only compartments were numerous on these lines c.1979. From memory there was something like one or more in each 4 or 5 car emu. While one did occasionally see 'ladies only' compartments at St Pancras and Paddington there seemed to be far more of these on trains running between London Bridge and Dartford. Is this subjective memory at all correct? If there were more than usual there was almost certainly a good reason. Can any reader explain what was going on?
Bob Carr

(and thanks to GLIAS and hope neither they nor Bob will object to this - I promise to send any comments you append below on to them - and personally I don't remember any Ladies Only compartments)


Paul W said...

I commuted off and on between 1963 (as a schoolboy) and 2004, initially from Grove Park and later from Lee. My impression is that over time the "rush-hours" got longer but less intense.

Thus in the 1960s the 8.15 to town was almost unbearable while there might be seats available on the 7.30 or 9am. By the 21st century all three would be standing room only but with room to breathe.

I don't recall ever seeing Ladies Only compartments on South-East trains. There were some in the 1960s out of Waterloo main station.

At one time both my parents bought green weekly season tickets. My mother's got chauvinistically stamped with a W for woman, I presume to make it harder for more than one person to use the ticket.

Otter said...

I do remember seeing Ladies Only on trains through New Cross Gate though I'm a bit hazy about when; probably up to late 1950s, certainly not into the 1970s

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