Strike-weary commuters outraged at permanent withdrawal of packed rush hour train

Posted On 12 Dec 2017 at 11:30 am

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The 6.37am Southern service from Brighton to London Bridge has been withdrawn ahead of new Thameslink services being scheduled – but these will not start to arrive until May next year.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.”

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.”

  1. Mike Reply

    Change had been planned for months. Also, 0630, change at Burgess Hill to catch the train from littlehampton that has replaced it. Adds 7 minutes. Not really much of an issue when the majority of people who catch that train stood outside the doors of the train to get “their seat” from 45 minutes previous

    • Tim Galvin Reply

      and stand all the way?

    • Rick Reply

      Might have been “planned” for months but not notified. The 06:37 is a critical change. Do customers never count with this useless franchise? More services in May? Fine. But any competent project manager should have been able to note that you do not ever make a change at the front end unless the backend is fully aligned. No pun intended.

  2. dave Reply

    Brighton needs a dedicated express to London bridge in the morning, calling at no were but Brighton, Preston park and London Bridge. If our railway was run like a real business another company would be able to introduce this service. Alas its run like a mafia instead with no actual competition.

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