Brighton passengers will be able to travel on Gatwick Express services for same price as a Southern off peak fare while the latter services are temporarily scrapped.
Southern’s off peak services between Brighton and London Victoria will not run from May 19 for at least two years while Gatwick Station is upgraded.
Caroline Lucas took up the issue with the government minister responsible for setting fares, and today he agreed people travelling at those times could use the Gatwick Express service – which is usually more expensive – for the same price.
Ms Lucas said: “This is great news and a tribute to all those rail travellers who got in touch with me and were part of the campaign.
“Off-peak rail passengers were going to be seriously affected by the loss of Southern’s off-peak service, either facing a much higher fare to travel on the Gatwick Express, or having to change trains so losing the direct service.
“This would have impacted so many travellers, and potentially caused real problems for some, like the elderly or infirm, who might find changing trains more difficult.
“I’m very glad the minister saw how unreasonable this would be, and has agreed that Govia Thameslink can offer an off-peak fare at the same price as a Southern off-peak ticket for journeys starting at Brighton.
“I had a meeting with the CEO of Govia Thameslink to see if it could be arranged for the Gatwick Express to make an extra stop at Clapham Junction during off-peak hours, as I know that is the preferred stop for many passengers. Unfortunately I was told that this isn’t possible for complex timetabling reasons.”
The discount will only for Brighton-London (single or return) fares as “it’s apparently not possible for passengers from London to get the cheaper fare for various train-related bureaucratic reasons”.
The question tabled to secretary of state for transport Chris Heaton-Harris was: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the effect on people with disabilities of reducing the price of off-peak Gatwick Express tickets between Brighton and London to the equivalent cost of a Southern ticket during the upgrade work to Gatwick airport railway station, when Southern off-peak services from London Victoria will not run direct; and if he will make a statement.”
Mr Heaton-Harris replied: “The industry is working on developing a passenger handling plan and will prioritise its responsibilities regarding accessibility, making necessary provisions to support the limited number of passengers whose journeys will be affected by the changes.
“In addition to this, GTR will be extending the Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 Southern fare products to be eligible on Gatwick Express services from Brighton for the duration of the Gatwick Station works.”