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Crossrail opening date set for 24 May

Crossrail to open on 24 May, with local bus route changes from 14 May – Abena responds

 

At long last Crossrail, or the Elizabeth Line as it will now be known, is opening. I know that for people living in Abbey Wood and nearby places this has been a long time coming. The initial planned opening date was nearly four years ago!

Since being elected in 2019, I have pushed TfL and Crossrail Ltd to open this vital new railway as soon as possible. I’m glad this is now happening, and I know it will benefit people and businesses in our area.

I’ve also been clear that TfL must ensure that local people across Erith and Thamesmead can benefit from Crossrail by ensuring that there are good bus links to Abbey Wood from across the constituency. I have written to TfL and recently met with the Deputy Mayor for Transport to discuss this.

TfL have now published changes to local bus routes. You can find the full details of changes here and the main changes affecting the constituency are in the table below.

If anyone has any concerns about these changes, or further suggestions for bus route changes, please do not hesitate to contact me at abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Finally, I am continuing to campaign for better transport across our area including the extension of the DLR to Thamesmead and beyond. I will keep you updated with this campaign as it progresses.

Abena

 

Route and destinations before change take place  Change  Date 
180 (Lewisham Shopping Centre to Belvedere Industrial Estate) Route 180 will be rerouted from Woolwich Road, Charlton via the current route 472 to North Greenwich Bus Station. Route 180 will also be extended from Belvedere Industrial Estate to Erith Quarry via Church Manorway and Erith Town Centre. Buses will no longer run along Mulberry Way and onto Fisher’s Way where the current route terminates. However, new bus stops nearby will come into operation when the changes to the route come into effect on Church Manorway through the newly created link through the Erith Quarry development which will help serve businesses and large distribution centres in the area. There will be no change to the current frequency of the route.

 

Customers can change at Stone Lake Retail Park for route 177 to Westcombe Park and Greenwich Town Centre or at Ikea on Greenwich Peninsula for route 129 to Greenwich and all stops to Lewisham.

14/05/2022
469 (Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Erith Town Centre) A new link to the Elizabeth line station at Abbey Wood will be created with route 469 rerouted between Abbey Wood station (for the Elizabeth line and National Rail) and Belvedere Station via New Road, Woolwich Road and Picardy Road instead of Abbey Road and Gilbert Road. There will be no change to the frequency of the route.

Customers can continue to use route 229 instead, which will continue to serve Abbey Road and Gilbert Road.

14/05/2022
472 (North Greenwich Station to Thamesmead Town Centre) 24 hour bus route 472 will be rerouted from Central Way to Abbey Wood station (for Elizabeth line and National Rail services) via Crossway, Carlyle Road, Harrow Manorway and Knee Hill. It will not serve Thamesmere Drive or Bentham Road. Customers can use route 301 instead, which will continue to provide a link to Abbey Wood along these roads as well as the previous route 472 link between Plumstead Bus Garage and Thamesmead Central Way via Nathan Way.

Buses will run every eight minutes instead of every six minutes on Monday to Friday daytimes, every 10 minutes instead of every seven to eight minutes on Saturday daytimes and every 12 minutes instead of every 10 minutes on Sundays. The night service routing will change as per the day service with buses continuing to run every 30 minutes on all nights of the week.

14/05/2022
B11 (Bexleyheath Bus Garage to Thamesmead Town Centre) Route B11 will no longer run between South Thamesmead, Yarnton Way / Harrow Manorway and Thamesmead Town Centre. Customers can use routes 177, 229, 244, 301, 401 and 472, which will continue to provide a link between Harrow Manorway / Yarnton Way and Thamesmead Town Centre. Buses on route B11 will run every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday. There will be no change frequencies at any other time. 14/05/2022

 

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Next Stop Thamsmead – My campaign to bring the DLR to Thamesmead

For too long people in Thamesmead have suffered from poor transport links – making it harder to access jobs and opportunities across London. It is time for the government to negotiate a fair funding settlement and bring the DLR to Thamesmead.

Last week I went on BBC Politics London to discuss my campaign to bring the DLR to Thamesmead and the Government’s refusal to negotiate a fair funding settlement for TfL.

For too long people in Thamesmead have suffered from poor transport links – making it harder to access jobs and opportunities across London. There is now substantial development happening in Thamesmead – with tens of thousands of homes planned over coming years. It is essential that this development is accompanied by proper infrastructure – to benefit people already living in Thamesmead and surrounding areas, and those who will be moving here in the future.

In the coming months I will be leading a series of meetings and events in my constituency to understand the needs of the local community. I will also be working with the local councils, Peabody and the developers to ensure this project continues to progress.

For projects like this to be successful, we need the Government to stop playing politics with TfL finances. Today is the last day for an agreement to be reached and so I urge you to make it clear to the Government that they must give TfL a fair deal.Watch me on BBC Politics London here.

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Visit to Abbey Wood Crossrail station

This week I visited the Abbey Wood Crossrail station to see first-hand the progress that has been made on completing the station and beginning services on the Elizabeth line.

 

This week I visited the Abbey Wood Crossrail station to see first-hand the progress that has been made on completing the station and beginning services on the Elizabeth line.

It was great to see the progress that has been made in finishing the station before Elizabeth line trains are due to start running in the first half of 2022. When this happens, Abbey Wood will be less that half-an-hour away from Paddington.

I am also calling for TfL, local councils and the Government to work together to ensure that residents in Erith and Thamesmead feel the full benefits of Crossrail by improving local bus links from Abbey Wood station.

I met with staff who have been working hard to ensure it is ready for passengers. I also heard about the challenges they have faced over the last year and the work they are doing to ensure it is operational as soon as possible. As always on these visits, I raised local concerns and received reassurances they are being addressed.

I am determined that as many local people as possible benefit from this new line, and therefore I am calling for better bus links from Abbey Wood to other places in the constituency. I will be working with local partners to ensure that this happens.

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The Government must protect jobs in the aviation sector – starting with British Airways

British Airways announced they plan to cut up to 12,000 jobs as part of their response to economic losses due to COVID-19. I have joined London MPs in calling on the Director of IAG, Willie Walsh, to reconsider these plans and work with trade unions to develop a long-term strategy.

I’ve been contacted by several employees of BA, resident in Erith and Thamesmead, who are concerned about their future. It is irresponsible of BA to make these announcements at a time of financial hardship for many, without first consulting with staff, unions and local stakeholders. I have personally written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma MP, to ask that his department to make representations about these concerns to IAG.

Moving forward from the COVID-19 crisis we must look to protect as many jobs as possible and create a plan to help people re-skill and find new employment. The aviation sector has faced huge losses during COVID-19 as almost all flights have been completely grounded over the past two months.

I am pleased that MPs from across the political spectrum have been working hard on this issue and trying to engage the relevant bodies. However, the Prime Minister and Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, who is at the forefront of protecting jobs and businesses, do not appear to be as enraged as MPs representing constituents who will suffer if this goes ahead.

Huw Merriman MP secured an urgent question on June 3rd 2020, “to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on covid-19 and the economic impact on aviation”. Unfortunately, the Chancellor did not attend this debate to listen to concerns.

Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, raised concerns that more job losses were to come if we did not act, he said:

“This is a sector that contributes £22 billion a year to our economy, with 230,000 jobs across the industry and the manufacturing supply chain dependent on it. It needs to change to meet the challenge of climate change. So why did one industry leader tell the Transport Committee just a fortnight ago that the Government were ‘asleep at the wheel’?”

I will be continuing to make representations on behalf of my constituents and attempt to engage IAG and the Chancellor in this issue. In the meantime, if you have been personally affected by job losses in the aviation industry, please do get in touch at abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

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Government and employers must act in response to the death of Belly Mujinga

I have received a huge amount of emails requesting a thorough investigation into the deeply saddening death of Belly Mujinga.

Belly Mujinga worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, ensuring that transport could remain operational for key workers throughout the crisis. News of Ms Mujinga’s death has raised some very serious and concerning questions regarding workplace safety and the UK justice system.

Firstly, Ms Mujinga was not provided with PPE by her employer Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). This is despite being a key worker throughout the peak of the COVID-19 crisis and her employer being aware of existing health conditions.

I have been calling for WHO standard PPE for all key workers since the beginning of this crisis. Following Ms Mujinga’s death I joined London MPs in re-establishing calls for PPE for all transport workers in a letter directly to the Prime Minister.

The letter, which you can read in full here, asks the Prime Minister:

“To ensure that transport operators have the requisite funds, and your Government’s support, to procure appropriate personal protective equipment to all public front facing staff.”

I have also written to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to ask for reassurance that all staff will now be provided with this protective equipment.

Secondly, this incident raises serious issues with the justice system in England. Ms Mujinga’s case was closed with no consequences, British Transport Police said:

“there is no evidence to substantiate any criminal offences having taken place, and the tragic death of Belly Mujinga was not a consequence of this incident”.

Whilst investigations have concluded that the incident involving a man spitting at Ms Mujinga and a co-worker did not lead to her death, it is highly concerning that no further actions will be taken in regards to the assault on Ms Mujinga and the breaking of lockdown guidelines, which in itself puts key workers at risk. On June 2nd 2020, a man who spat at a police officer in Glasgow was jailed for a total of 12 months.

I have written to the British Transport Police to request more information regarding their investigations. The public must be assured that police are taking this crisis seriously and are holding those who threaten public health to account. Closing this investigation without a detailed public explanation sends a message that it is acceptable to act irresponsibly with complete disregard for the lives of those who have put themselves in harms way throughout this crisis.

Finally, the death of Ms Mujinga highlights the human impact of the racial inequalities highlighted throughout this crisis.

In London, more than a quarter of transport workers operating tubes and buses, which remained open during the lockdown and, 67% of the adult social care workforce are from BAME backgrounds.

It has been highlighted, since close to the beginning of this crisis, that BAME residents in the UK are up to twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Providing PPE is a necessary part of protecting BAME lives throughout this crisis and must be addressed as such.

Belly Mujinga leaves behind a husband and an 11 year old daughter. At least 33 transport workers have died in London throughout this crisis so far, each leaving behind friends and family.

I have also joined London MPs in calling on the Government to extend the Coronavirus life assurance lump sum scheme for the bereaved families of NHS workers to be extended to cover all transport workers who die from COVID-19.

 

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Minister challenged to name handover date for Southeastern

Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare challenged Transport Ministers to name a handover date for Southeastern services to TfL.

Abena put the question to Ministers at Transport Question time in Parliament following delays which have angered local passengers eager to see the service improved.

Abena said “We all know that there are huge transport issues in our constituency, not least regarding the Southeastern Rail service. I asked the Minister for Transport when we could expect a date for the transfer of Southeastern services to TfL. Unfortunately no date was set. I will continue to fight for this simple improvement to take place, as well as fighting for our constituency on other issues, such as the over-run of Crossrail.”