Major changes to Southern and Thameslink timetables planned for 2018 have been published for a second round of public consultation.
Govia Thameslink Railway said the proposals will mean faster, easier, and more seamless journeys into and across central London.
According to the rail operator new trains, new rail routes, and updated working practices will ‘future-proof’ the Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern networks where passenger numbers, in some places, have doubled in just 12 years.
Train users are being asked to comment on detailed timetables as GTR launches the second phase of a massive consultation exercise.
Charles Horton, chief executive officer at GTR, said: “Our networks are some of the busiest and most complex in the world. Passenger journeys have doubled in recent years, the fastest growth in the UK. Sitting still is not an option.
“That’s why we’ve been hard at work, delivering the transformation needed. By improving tracks and stations, introducing new trains and adding more destinations, we’re making sure our passengers’ railway is fit for the future. We are still in transition but the work is nearly complete.
“We started our consultation in the autumn – one of the biggest ever conducted – and we’ve listened and taken on board where possible passengers’ views on the new routes and developed weekday timetables for final comment.
“They’ve been designed with reliability at their heart, offering new direct routes across London and more seamless journeys.”
For Southern passengers, GTR argues the changes will deliver more capacity and better reliability through a range of improvements designed to make routes self-contained and easier to operate, reducing the domino effect in times of disruption.
Meanwhile Littlehampton, Horsham and East Grinstead services to London Bridge will transfer to Thameslink in 2018 and continue through central London to Bedford and Peterborough, creating a direct link to Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) at Farringdon and connections at St Pancras International for Luton Airport.
Southeastern is also consulting on its new timetable
Changes to introduce driver-only operation, where drivers are responsible for opening and closing train doors, on the Southern network sparked a long-running dispute last year, which has continued into 2017.
The RMT union, which represents conductors who have been transferred to on-board supervisors, has called another 24-hour walkout on Monday, July 10.
Meanwhile, a ban on overtime working by train drivers’ union ASLEF came into effect today (Thursday June 29), while it is also balloting members on holding more strikes.
Southern has brought in a revised temporary timetable.
The changes involve making drivers responsible for opening and closing train doors and the RMT has raised concerns about the potential loss of a second safety critical member of staff on Southern services.
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said: “The ban reflects the total loss of trust and goodwill between train drivers and the company. Drivers work overtime on an entirely voluntary basis and have no contractual obligation to do so.”
But Angie Doll, Southern’s passenger services director, said: “This action is going to be very inconvenient to our passengers and communities but by putting in this revised timetable we will be able to run a more reliable and consistent service.
“We’ve been safely running our trains with drivers closing the doors on additional routes since January and have had six months of sustained improvement in service levels and positive passenger feedback.
“We urge ASLEF to put an end to their industrial action and allow passengers to get on with their lives.”
For more information on the temporary timetable visit Southern’s website.