Talk to me about commuting from Balham

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SouthLondonDaddy
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Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:25 pm

We are considering moving to Balham, and appreciate some honest feedback about commuting into central London. I can't stress "honest" enough, because most of the people I talk to seem heavily invested in convincing themselves and others that wherever they live is the best place on Earth, so I must take their feedback with a truckload of salt. I heard things like: "Peckham is better than South Ken" and "from Bromley to Victoria it's only 10 minutes"...

So, back on topic:
  • How has the Southern Fail fiasco affected the trains from Balham to Clapham Junction and Victoria over the last couple of years, e.g. this week with the overtime ban? In some zone 2 and zone 3 areas it's been an absolute nightmare; trains from Dulwich to London Bridge ran once an hour at peak times for most of the summer, for example. Was Balham better? I'd like to hope so, as trains from Balham tend to be more frequent, but I'd like to hear from local residents.
  • When Southern Snail works properly, how good / bad is the service to Victoria? Can you get on at peak times (say, 8 -8.30am) or do you have to wait multiple trains before managing to get on, as in some tube stations? How crowded or bearable do trains tend to be?
  • How feasible is it to take the Northern line into central London in the morning (8-8.30am)? Some stations are so crowded that getting from the station to the train can take longer than the journey itself. Is Balham one of these?
Thanks!
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cuqui03
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby cuqui03 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:32 pm

Can't speak about the trains sorry just about the Tube.
I moved from central London around 3 y ago and commute to Bank from Clapham South daily. It is depressing and crazy busy at the times you mention. It is one of my few regrets and miss the nice circle line dearly (the nice new bigger trains with AC in Summer months particularly!). To get it better have to be at the station right around 8, if you do 8:15 or so chances are you wait for few trains to be stuffed in."Adavantage" is that it is really 20min on the train itself to Bank.
Few times I have had to take the train South to Tooting to ensure you get into a train. Service is generally good and sounds better than Southern.
Balham might be slightly better since is one stop further away but doubt it is so much better.
Unfortunately as people keep moving further from the centre it will just get worse as trains fill up further away.
Good luck!
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Mum2Monkey
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Mum2Monkey » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:56 am

Mainline is crowded. You will probably get on the first train but until Clapham junction it is crammed. After that , sometimes you have space to read a paper. Trains frequent. Not sure how much impact Southern problems really had on Balham. But i only use from time to time during rush hour.

Balham tube. No chance of a seat and rammed. Takes a couple of mins to queue into the station between 8.15 and 8.40. Usually get on first or second train though and the commute is quick, but busy. Before 8 and after 8.45 is busy but no real queues. It starts building at 8 and 8.15 is peak. Balham is a lot better than Clapham South though ..... Balham is probably the last stop where you mostly get on the first or second train. Sometimes i get on a tooting bec. No queues and you can get on the train but zero chance of a seat still.
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:22 am

Thank you both.

We'd mainly use the train to Victoria, and use the Northern line occasionally during the week, and at weekends.
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Nev123
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Nev123 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:04 am

I agree with the above. Tube is very busy 8-8.30 but you can get on first or second train usually. I tend to get on slightly later 8.40/50ish and it's much more civilised then. Might even get a seat at Stockwell. It is very quick into the city. Balham is certainly a lot better than Clapham stations. Years ago I commuted from Clapham North and that really was awful and I did have to go back a few stops in order to get on quite often.
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Mum2Monkey
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Mum2Monkey » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:13 am

If I have a choice, I always choose mainline. I think you will find that fine. Walk to the front of the train and you will be able to get on. It isn't pleasant, but not sure a London commute ever is? However a lot of people get off at Balham so it is probably one of the better stations. You could always try the commute? Guessing what is ok for one person might not be for another ..... Balham itself is lovely though and well worth the commute for me!
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:50 am

Yes, we'll certainly try the route during peak time before finalising our decision.

Is the Balham tube like some of the Clapham ones (maybe all of them?), where, while waiting, you're sharing the platform with people going in the opposite direction? I always found that very inconvenient, and potentially dangerous.

It is certainly subjective, but I can't stand the poor transport links of Dulwich any more; sometimes at weekends it feels like we live in Nowhereshire, not in zone 2, and I have had multiple cases where friends from the edge of the M25 arrived in central London, in locations supposedly well connected to Dulwich (Victoria, London Bridge) way sooner than us.
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Mum2Monkey
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Mum2Monkey » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:02 am

Balham and Tooting Bec are different to Clapham. You come down the escalator into a hall. Go through an arch on the left to northbound platform and an arch on the right to southbound platform. So the platforms are separate. Agree about Clapham. Lived there for a number of years and hated the pushing and shoving when an opposite direction pulled in...... I would try the commute yourself though ...... Having lived at Clapham North, I guess I would find anything tolerable by comparison!
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Balhamberry
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Balhamberry » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:20 pm

Northern line from Balham is busy but pretty reliable. I travel in early (at Balham for 7am). It is very rare that there is an issue with the line, but it is still busy even at that time. Will get on the first train, but rarely a seat, and platform at Balham normally pretty busy too. I occasionally travel by train, also busy, but clears significantly st Clapham junction so you really only have 5 mins of squash.
But a definite plus for me is that with Balham you have various travel options, and I definitely like the choice of overland/ underground.
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Jen66
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Jen66 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:25 pm

I commute to Victoria a lot.

When Southern are not striking the trains run well and, at peak times, there's one every 2-3 minutes. They're busy but not as busy as the tube is at that time. A lot of those on board get off at Clapham Junction so second half of journey is less packed.

Worth pointing out that loads of commuters get off overground trains at Balham and pile onto the tube. There is a real throng at peak time. Trying to get up the steps to the platform as a train is emptying is impossible. It's also annoying if you arrive for the tube as an overground train is emptying as it can get very crowded.

On days where I've had to use the tube then i tend to go backwards to Tooting Bec or Broadway in order to get a seat.
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matilda
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby matilda » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:17 pm

We find commuting from Balham and Wandsworth Common to Victoria via Battersea Park. mainland do-able but stressful. Even when there isn't a strike the trains are often delayed, cancelled or turn up with only 4 carriages. It's an effin' "rip hair out" nightmare and not a great way to start the day. I suppose if you are going straight to Victoria from Balham and can get any train then it will be better.

I used to commute around 8-8.30am on the tube from Balham and, before that, Clapham South to Canary Wharf. Clapham South was terrible as the tubes were packed by the time they arrived, but you eventually get on having to yell at people to move down into the carriage. Balham almost as bad and coming home the other way is a pain since the charing cross ones terminate at Kennington, meaning another slog to get on packed south-bound trains.

Sorry for the thumbs down. Thousands do it and manage it every day I suppose, but I find/found it a nightmare (especially when heavily pregnant and in hot weather).
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:18 pm

Thank you all.
We'll certainly try it a few times before finalising a decision.

I should add that my wife would take the train to Clapham Junction, and from there another train to go west.

I would probably commute by motorcycle 90% of the time; it's the same distance as from Dulwich, so i reckon it would take me about the same time, i.e. 25 to 40 minutes depending on traffic and red lights. I'd still need a way to get to the office by public transport the remaining 10% of the time (eg when travelling from the office, when I have after work dinners [booze -> no riding] etc), but I can probably stomach something which is not ideal.

An area not served by SouthernFail would be much better, but, within the Southern mess, a station like Balham will surely be better than Denmark Hill or East Dulwich, from where trains are way less frequent!
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Beachbum
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby Beachbum » Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:43 am

We have moved near to clapham junction back from Dulwich village because of the time it was taking my husband to get to and fro from work. I loved the village but you can't get anywhere!! It has been a dream. He is home within 30 minutes most nights, no canceled trains or trains re-routed while on it. Good luck.
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:48 am

May I ask where your husband commutes to?
Before the Southern fiasco, Dulwich used to be good for links to the City via London Bridge, possibly better than Balham / Clapham junction, and for links to Canary Wharf via the overground to Canada Water.

Clapham Junction is probably beyond our budget, but I am hoping that Balham should be a reasonable compromise.

I like visiting the Village, but I'd hate the thought of living there and being subject to the Dulwich Estate. For those who are not familiar with the area, it's a charity which is a large local freeholder. Most of its income goes to the local independent schools (Dulwich College and others). There is always criticism for how it squeezes local businesses and residents (eg trebling the rent of a local toy store) for the benefit of, well, rich kids more than the local community. Plus, even if you buy a freehold house, you still have to pay them for the maintenance of some green areas, have to get their approval for any modification to the property, cannot install double glazing because it is against their "values", etc. But I digress. Back on topic!
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: Talk to me about commuting from Balham

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:51 am

PS How accessible are the Balham train station and tube station? Can one parent access them, with a toddler asleep in a pushchair?
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