A petition has been set up calling on the Mayor of London and TfL to move Woolwich from Zone 4 to Zone 3 on the tube map travel zones. As the petition states, Woolwich DLR is the only DLR station in Zone 4, while it notes that most of the zone 3 stations north of the river are of equal distance from Central London.
The financial impact on passengers would be significant as a monthly zones 1-4 travelcard currently costs £204, but this could fall to just £167 if Woolwich was moved into Zone 3.
Woolwich is undergoing a major redevelopment, thanks largely to the pending arrival of the Elizabeth line, and the petition argues that rezoneing Woolwich will “help to increase the speed of this regeneration by attracting new residents and tourists to the new amenities such as the Woolwich Works, and upcoming improved high street and the much-anticipated indoor market.”
The petition adds that when the Elizabeth line opens, “it will take equal time (of 14minutes) to travel from Woolwich or Manor Park to Liverpool Street. The only difference appears to be that Woolwich is south of the river.”
However, while the journey times are the same, the distance travelled is not as Manor Park is 6 miles from Liverpool Street while Woolwich is around 7 miles from Liverpool Street. They can take the same time to travel different distances because are three stops on the Woolwich branch but four stops on the Manor Park branch. Fewer stops means shorter journey times, but as the Woolwich train has to travel further in mileage, it’ll cost more to run that service.
This is also not the first attempt to rezone Woolwich on the grounds of future developments being supported by the change of zone.
In 2014, a petition was rejected as it would cost over £1 million a year in lost income. This was at the same time a similar rezoning of Stratford was expected to lose TfL some £7 million a year in revenue, although it was justified at the time by expectations that increased economic activity in the Olympic part development would raise around £99 million a year in taxes.
While Woolwich is also undergoing redevelopment, it’s mainly residential and the smaller portion of commercial developments are unlikely to generate enough taxes to offset the train ticket revenue loss.
More recently, in 2017, the Mayor responded to another petition calling for Woolwich to be moved to Zone 3, rejecting the request. At the time it was noted that in addition to the lower fares revenue for TfL, it would also have to pay Southeastern around £5 million a year in compensation for its loss of revenue as well.
A double-hit to TfL’s finances that was untenable at the time, and pretty much impossible to countenance today.