£6 billion to make our journeys longer

South London commuters are bracing themselves for longer journeys and house-price devaluations if plans to axe a central London rail link go ahead

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South London commuters are bracing themselves for longer journeys and house-price devaluations if plans to axe a central London rail link go ahead.

The Department for Transport has been besieged by objections after it unveiled proposals to terminate services on the “Wimbledon Loop” — 13 stops on the Thameslink line — at Blackfriars in six years time.

The line is in the throes of a £6 billion upgrade which, it has been promised, will bring faster, more reliable journeys. But residents are dismayed that the new service will no longer continue on from Blackfriars to key destinations such as City Thameslink at King’s Cross, Farringdon and St Pancras.

Clive Moon, a director of estate agents Savills, says homeowners in prime areas such as Wimbledon Village might escape a major price impact. “But for properties a kilometre or more away from these stations we could see prices fall by two to three per cent as they suddenly start to look less convenient,” he warns.

Average house prices in Sutton, the most affected borough, currently stand at £265,000, so a three per cent fall would represent a £7,950 loss.

Savills estimates that each extra minute spent travelling into London knocks £1,300 off the price of an average property.

Councillor Simon Wales, whose Sutton West ward will be hard hit by the change, said: “People have made decisions about where to live based on the services they have got and a lot of people do work in the City. It will impact on the quality of life of thousands of people. It is one less service and one more hassle. People who have moved here for the train line are entitled to feel aggrieved.”

Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, is seeking an urgent meeting with the transport secretary to discuss the plan. And the outcry has prompted the Department to extend the deadline for complaints to be made to September 14.

“There is uncertainty about how easy it will be for passengers chucked off the train at Blackfriars to get on another train, particularly at peak times,” pointed out Brake.

Thameslink claims if it is to achieve its pledge to run 24 trains an hour from Blackfriars through central London and St Pancras it will not be possible for trains from the Wimbledon loop to use the line at the same time.

A spokesman for the DfT said the proposal was still in the consultation phase. “A decision about which trains should terminate at Blackfriars has not yet been made,” he said.

The 13 stations that could be affected by the move are: Sutton Common, West Sutton, Sutton, Carshalton, Hackbridge, St Helier, Morden South, South Merton, Wimbledon Chase, Wimbledon, Haydons Road, Tooting and Mitcham Junction.


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