Train bosses say it will ‘revolutionise’ travel across London and the South East, as a long-awaited timetable transformation is implemented across the GTR network.
3,200 daily services on Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern have been rescheduled as part of efforts to increase capacity and reduce delays on the UK’s largest rail franchise.
While many destinations will see quicker journey times, passengers using certain routes face a reduction of train services in what has become a postcode lottery.
Among those to be affected is Harpenden. Commuters there say they will see their trains reduced by a third in peak times, which is likely to see cattle-truck conditions on services leaving an already busy station.
Fan Landers uses Southern to get between New Cross Gate and Redhill. Her journey time is being doubled.
"Currently it takes me 32 minutes from New Cross Gate to Redhill direct. From next week. There are no longer direct trains between the two. So I need to take a slow train from New Cross Gate to East Croydon and then change. It will take up to an hour which means half an hour additionally each way. It is very upsetting."
By their own admission, GTR say their new timetable won’t be running smoothly come Monday.
Despite being years in the making, a number of services won’t be operating on the new timetable.
In the morning and evening peak the following services won’t be running:
- Peterborough - London: two trains in each peak for two weeks, and then one for a further week
- Luton - London: one train in the morning peak for a week, two trains in the evening peak for one week, and one train in the evening peak for a further three weeks
- Rainham - London: one train in the morning peak for two weeks, and 1 train in the evening peak for three weeks
The RMT union's General Secretary Mick Cash issued a warning about the new timetable:
"The company are winging it with potentially disastrous consequences. Instead of trusting them with a new timetable they should be stripped of the franchise to make way for an integrated, publicly owned operation that is properly equipped to deliver these services."
Chief Executive of Govia Thameslink Railway Charles Horton said:
"Due to the sheer scale of the changes, we will have to redeploy a large number of trains and crews and services may not run at normal times during the introductory phase, although the impact on peak time services during the transition will be minimal.”
"Introduction of the new timetables is a major milestone in the delivery of Rail Plan 20/20,our programme to modernise rail services, taking advantage of the new infrastructure and trains provided by the Government’s £7bn Thameslink Programme."
In recent years, Southern, Thameslink, the Gatwick Express and Great Northern have been ranked as the UK's worst train operators by passengers. Rail bosses will be hoping their new timetable turns this around.