The Department for Transport has bowed to the weight of pressure from south London commuters and vowed to keep a through-London train service on the Thameslink route.
The government announced the decision that trains would continue through Streatham, Tulse Hill, Loughborough Juntion and onwards to Kings Cross and beyond. The move comes after a consultation on the future of the line that suggested terminating trains into the city at Blackfriars station.
Community activists fought a hard campaign around Loughborough Junction, Tulse Hill, and other affected stations, with petitions and a huge response from the public in Lambeth and south London.
Last summer Loughborough Junction Action Group collected more than 1,500 signatures at the station of passengers objecting to the plan.
LJAG Co-Chair Anthea Masey said yesterday: “We are thrilled that the Department for Transport has changed its mind about stopping the trains on the Sutton Wimbledon loop at Blackfriars. This train is vital to the people of Loughborough Junction. It is our equivalent of the tube and stopping the trains at Blackfriars would have been a disaster.
Jeremy Clyne, Liberal Democrat councillor for Streatham Hill, told the Blog: “There is joy and jubilation for everybody, the community is absolutely delighted.
“This decision is a response to voice of the people and the huge weight of objections. It’s people power.”
Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham, said the announcement was “brilliant news” for every one in the community, and a relief for everyone who took part in the campaign. But he criticised the Government for stopping short of increasing the number of trains on the line.
He added: “The possibility that our through-London service might be cut was always an absurd proposition so the most I can give the government for this announcement is half-marks but what we really need is newer, longer, more frequent trains.
“Our community should celebrate this victory of sorts but I won’t stop campaigning for newer, longer, more frequent trains. I hope the government is starting to learn they can’t treat the transport needs of my constituents with the contempt they’ve shown up to now.”
Rail Minister Simon Burns said the Wimbledon loop was a vital service for commuters, and that his department had listened to the concerns of residents. He said: “The Thameslink Programme is having a huge impact on improving rail services across London and beyond, but the department was always concerned that the initial proposals for this route were not quite right.
“I am therefore extremely pleased that Network Rail have relooked at the plans and am confident this decision will provide benefits to rail users for years to come.”