Brighton commuters who have suffered many months of strike-hit and disrupted services have hit out at the decision to permanently cancel a jam packed morning train.
The 6.37am Southern service from Brighton to London Bridge has been withdrawn ahead of new Thameslink services being scheduled – but these will not start to arrive until May next year.
Meanwhile, the move will add a chunk of time to passengers’ daily journeys – and will make the remaining services even more jam-packed.
One commuter, Stephen Wilmot, said: “Like many other commuters, I relied on this train daily to get me to London Bridge shortly before 8am. There is now no direct service leaving Brighton for London Bridge at the peak time between 6.00 and 7.32. The 7.32 gets me to my office a full hour later than the (slightly faster) 6.37.
“For the next five to six months there is no service whatsoever at the most important time possible.
“The cancellation was evidently made very late in the rescheduling process and subject to very little, if any consultation. The first I heard about the change was on an information panel at Brighton on Friday. There was never an announcement made on the train itself, which would have been the obvious way to make sure commuters were kept in the loop.
“This change effectively institutionalises the disruption London Bridge commuters experienced during the strike period last autumn, when the 6.37am was also routinely cancelled. For that disruption we at least received a month’s refund on our £4,536 annual season tickets. What is the provision for those affected by this latest service disruption?
“My only option now if I want to arrive at London Bridge at a similar time to last week is to change at East Croydon. This will take longer, and from experience I know I will not get a seat at East Croydon.
“The first service this morning following the cancelled 6.37 got me into London Bridge at 8.04 – 18 minutes later than normal. For this I would normally receive compensation under the Delay Repay scheme, but presumably I won’t because the cancellation is framed as a last-minute timetable change.
“I would rather have the train back than any form of compensation. All commuters want for the thousands of pounds they give to Southern is a reliable and not overcrowded service.”
New trains are making their way to Littlehampton for tomorrows AM peak services! pic.twitter.com/PJNTF60pg5
— Brighton Station Cat (@BrightonStnCat) December 10, 2017
A spokesman for Southern said the cancellation was made because the 6.37am service previously joined a Littlehampton train at Haywards Heath, but with the introduction of new fixed length trains this is no longer possible.
He said: “We are bringing in more class 700 fixed-length trains to the network as part of the modernisation programme to bring much needed extra capacity to the railway in the South East.
“As a result we are no longer able to join this service to the West Coastway service at Haywards Heath. It will run as a 12 coach service from Littlehampton via Hove to London Bridge.
“However, from May, we are planning to introduce many more trains direct from Brighton to London Bridge, reaching 15 by December.”