Earlsfield has changed a lot since I was a boy growing up on the Henry Prince Estate on Garratt Lane. It’s always been a great place to live, but in recent years it's undergone a transformation.
‘London’s bursting’ was one of the more imaginative headlines last week regarding our cities record breaking population- which now stands at a record 8.6 million. London may be the best city in the world to live in, with more and better paying jobs than elsewhere, but our soaring population is having a huge knock on effect on our daily lives, from the prices of the houses we live in to our commute into work. Here in Earlsfield we’ve had a complete refurbishment of Earlsfield Station, which was completed last year. After a long campaign, I was pleased to have secured £8 million for the project back in 2007, so we could finally have a station facilities fit for the twenty first century. I am regularly told, especially by parents who use buggies and older commuters with reduced mobility, that the lifts to the platforms have made a real difference.
|Earlsfield station February 2015|
Yet whilst we have solved the problem of an unattractive station, with poor facilities, getting onto a train has become a nightmare, especially on weekday mornings. We often have to wait for several trains to pass before we can get on, and the platform can become so crowded that safety is a major concern. There is no doubt about it, overcrowding is now the biggest problem at the station, and it’s only getting worse. As the local MP I regularly meet with the station manager and South West Train bosses, and over the last year, overcrowding has been top of my agenda. South West Trains have listened and do have a long term plan to increase capacity at the station – to introduce 10-car trains, instead of the 8-car trains we have now. You may have seen the platforms at Earlsfield being lengthened last summer, but before we can receive extended trains regularly, major works are required at Waterloo Station. Work should be completed in December 2017.
|Meeting with South West trains staff in November|
Whilst this offers some reassurance, I have been lobbying for more immediate action. Even though Earlsfield can’t run a regular 10-car service until the work at Waterloo Station is complete, we now have one 10-car train running, departing Waterloo at 17:57pm. We also have two extra services running in the morning, departing Earlsfield at 7:29am and 9:30am. A ‘turn up and go’ policy has also been introduced - which means trains don’t wait around if they arrive early, and this helps prevent the trains behind being held up. Staff have also been placed on the platform to help reduce overcrowding, and as the problem has increased I have continued to ask for more. I’ve also asked South West Trains to consider implementing a system similar to that which operates on the underground when the lines are busy, whereby staff restrict the numbers allowed on to the platform, to keep the area safe. This is currently being explored.
I hope Earlsfield commuters find this blog useful. I would welcome your thoughts on improvements at the station, so why not drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org? In the meantime, I will continue to raise overcrowding and safety concerns with rail bosses.
You can always follow me on twitter (@sadiqkhan) or visit www.sadiqkhan.org.uk for updates.
Until next time,
Ps Don’t forget I am here to help, whatever your politics!
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