COLUMN: Val Shawcross, London Assembly Member for Southwark and Lambeth

News Desk (26 November, 2015)

Stay local during the festive period.

6803Val Shawcross

The festive season is rapidly approaching, and most people are busy making plans to visit family and friends over the holidays.

Many people also take time off work at this time of year, and as a result this is a quieter time for public transport. Hence, train operators tend to choose the Christmas period as one during which they undertake major works, and this year is no exception. For those who will still need to travel to work, or use public transport to get around over the festive season, forward planning will be needed.

The Southeastern stations at London Bridge, Cannon Street, Charing Cross and Waterloo East will be closed from 8pm on Christmas Eve until 4am on January 4th. This is to accommodate some major building work as part of the Thameslink project. During this period, trains will be diverted to run to and from Victoria or Blackfriars instead, or will start and terminate at New Cross.  Tickets will be valid on local buses, and reasonable Overground and tube services. Southern rail will be running  some services to and from London Bridge, but services are likely to be busier.

Of course, the big occasion when Londoners may feel the strain is New Year’s Eve. As well as the closures and reductions outlined above, there will be no trains at Blackfriars from around 10pm on New Year’s Eve. The traditional fireworks display in central London is being ticketed again this year, which may reduce the numbers of people travelling into the city. However, if you are planning to see in 2016 in Trafalgar Square or similar, you need to be aware that your travel options home may be more limited than usual, and you will need to plan ahead.

I would encourage Southwark News readers to maybe take a look at local venues this year and think about doing your partying locally! This will save you a potentially stressful journey home, and supports your local pubs, clubs or restaurants.

Although it may not seem like it, those running the Thameslink project do appreciate they are causing inconvenience, but are trying to mitigate this by choosing traditionally quieter times to do major works. Although we may all have to compromise over our festive travel this year, when the project is finally finished in 2018, everyone’s journeys should be easier and more comfortable all year round.

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