Brighton and Hove commuters have been warned to expect disruption as a widely trailed new timetable beds in.
Wholesale changes to train times proved challenging on the first day of operation yesterday (Sunday 20 May).
And as commuters return to work this morning (Monday 21 May) train companies and a rail union have warned passengers that there may be problems.
The RMT said yesterday that it had received reports of “severe disruption on (the) basket-case GTR franchise” as the new timetable took effect.
This appeared to relate to services north of London being run by GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway) which owns Southern and Thameslink as well as the Gatwick Express and Great Northern.
The RMT said: “Rail union RMT has confirmed that it is receiving widespread reports from the front line of severe disruption to services on the first day of the new GTR timetable.
“There are real fears that routes will be on a knife edge tomorrow morning when passengers return to work after the weekend.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “As RMT warned, the new timetable on GTR is placing massive additional strains on infrastructure and staffing levels that are already struggling to cope with current capacity.
“The company are winging it with potentially disastrous consequences. RMT has warned repeatedly about the pressure on the central core through the middle of London which is crucial to the delivery of these plans and those fears are being borne out from reports coming in today.
“It also remains a fact that this company have proved themselves unfit to run a railway since they were inflicted on a long-suffering public.
“From attacking their own staff to axing safety-critical guards, ignoring the views of passenger and disability groups and flouting anti discrimination laws, their track record is truly shocking.
“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.
“RMT will continue to monitor the situation. ”
GTR was quoted as saying: “We are introducing the biggest change to rail timetables in a generation and, as we have been informing passengers, we expect some disruption to services in the initial stages.
“This is a significant logistical challenge as we make rolling incremental changes across more than 3,000 daily services.
“We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused during the initial stages of the timetable change.
“The improvements we are making will lead to a significant boost in capacity with a 13 per cent increase in services across the GTR network immediately.”
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