Working parents look set to be the worst affected by Southern Railway’s new temporary timetable which starts from next week.
Under the revised timetable – released to combat short staffing and cancellations – the first two direct Brighton to London Victoria trains after 8am – when most nurseries and school breakfast clubs open – have been cancelled, with a gap of more than an hour between the 7.44am and the 8.46am services.
And it’s a similar story on the way back, as the 4pm Victoria to Brighton has been cancelled, and the two trains the other side at 3.50pm and 4.20pm have usually been formed of just four carriages only, which means parents risk not catching them and being fined for late pick-ups.
One Brighton mother, Laura Marshall, said: “The cancelling of the 8.30am is a massive pain for me as nursery opens at 8am and then I hotfoot it to the station. I arrive into work late but it is accepted given I am very early other days when not doing drop off.
“Getting in for 10am is going to cause problems so then I’ll work longer that day and will miss bedtime with my daughter.”
Another, Justine Stephens, said: “Its basically all of our trains in and out that have been removed. I am going to have to get the Thameslinks and change.
“My husband already slums it on the Thameslink in order that we aren’t on the same train lines should the inevitable cancellations etc occur.
“I pay £5.5k for this service. There must be a big campaign here – to reclaim 15% of our ticket price, that being the level of deterioration in service that we will all be experiencing according to GTR.”
A third, Hayley Regan, said: “I drop off at 8am and sometimes pay for a taxi to get the 8.15am and have the backup of the 8.30am. I go in early two other days but still there’s no guarantees.
“Surely they can’t justify a one hour wait from 7.44am to 8.46am! I’m sure it’s the same for others. I’ve had to cancel meetings for next week now.”
Hove MP Peter Kyle called on Southern to restore the full timetable asap – and run longer trains in the meantime.
He said: “Working families have already been hit hard by all this disruption – my inbox has been full of emails over the last year from frustrated parents who end up arriving home late after their children have gone to bed.
“This current situation shows why the emergency timetable is simply not a sustainable solution and a full timetable must return ASAP.
“Southern must also surely take action during this interim period and lengthen any four carriage trains on the Mainline routes to help cope with extra demand from cancelled services.”