Congestion cuts Chalkwell commuter runs

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A Chalkwell Caetano Levante is seen working a commuter journey at Waterloo Bridge, London on April 20. MIKE SHEATHER
A Chalkwell Caetano Levante is seen working a commuter journey at Waterloo Bridge, London on April 20. MIKE SHEATHER

Sittingbourne-based Chalkwell has announced a restructuring of its Kent to London commuter coach services.

The family-run firm operates a nine-vehicle service with four coaches every day to the capital from Swale and the Medway Towns, plus a further five from Maidstone and Malling. As of Monday (July 4), the Maidstone and Malling services were reduced to three in the morning and four returning in the afternoon.

Roland Eglinton, Chalkwell Commercial Director, said: “Operating coaches in London, particularly commuter services, has become a very difficult environment. In addition to competition from other modes, we’ve seen increased traffic and massive delays associated with the Cycle SuperHighway. We hoped that once the roadworks had finished and Aldgate re-opened, that we would see an improvement. Despite lobbying TfL for much-need changes to traffic light phasing, particularly along Upper Thames Street, we have not seen any substantial improvement or interest from them.

“While cyclists have been given priority, there is a lack of interest in commuter coaches from the authorities. The forthcoming closure of Tower Bridge is going to be yet another obstruction.

“All of these factors make it difficult to get people to and from work in a timely fashion, and as such we’ve seen noticeable decline in patronage on some departures.”