GTR Launches 2018 Timetable Consultation

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has launched a public consultation for it’s proposed 2018 Timetable changes including those on the Southern routes through Hastings and Ore.

The consultation can be read in full at : http://www.southernrailway.com/download/42915.6/timetable-consultation.

It is 70+page document, our services feature on pp 25-27, 36-39. There is an apparent link to the full proposed timetables, but as yet we haven’t found them.

There are a number of propositions, which provide both positives and negatives, some ambiguity and an either/or conundrum. The 2018 timetable make look very different in timings rather than service-provision, so it is necessary to avoid direct comparison with the existing service pattern.

ORE to LONDON VICTORIA

It is proposed to withdraw the section between Hastings and Ore, with Hastings as the terminus. This would have a negative impact on service provision to Ore, reducing services by around 50%. There is a statement that SouthEastern (SER) services to/from Charing Cross will fill the void which is misleading because SER may not be running the service at that time and as such cannot give any such guarantee.

It would be useful for tourists if Hastings was the clearly defined destination at major points such as Victoria / Clapham Junction  / Gatwick and the proposal also intends to reduce, by unspecified amounts, the overall journey time to/from London Victoria.

There are no plans or ideals for the time-consuming split/attach sequences at Haywards Heath to be discontinued or for general capacity to be increased. This maybe to achieve a better, increased, service pattern to and from Brighton. Neither are there any aspirations to achieve a substantial reduction in journey times between Bexhill and Polegate through improved infrastructure. Both are disappointing.

The creation of this independent service will also create self-contained operations on the Ore < > Brighton stopping service, whereas the Brighton and Victoria services currently inter-operate. This raises the possibility of lower standard class-313 units with no toilets or air-conditioning becoming increasingly used – or even the standard stock – on the service. We would consider that to be a retrograde step.

BRIGHTON to ASHFORD (MARSHLINK)

This is very complex. Whilst there is widespread local concern at overcrowding between Ashford and Eastbourne, route operator Southern sees the issue as only between Eastbourne and Brighton. They would prefer two separate services; an electric 4-car between Brighton and either Eastbourne or Hastings, with the existing 2-car diesel operating the rest of the route. This would increase the overly long journey time along the coast by up to 27mins, depending on which option was utilised. Neither option would increase capacity east of Hastings.

For reasons that are very unclear and do not follow the patterns of other services, Southern are also suggesting that parts of the diesel service would need to be locked out of use on the Ore < > Ashford section.

The consultation is very clear in that if users want to ease the overcrowding on the 2-car diesels then they must accept a two-service option. GTR continue to repeat that there are ‘no more diesels’, but this is untrue; they don’t want to procure them because the DfT will not fund the process, which is very different from them not being available. Is this really the way forward in the 21st century?

ORE to BRIGHTON (STOPPING)

As noted in the Ore < > Victoria this would become a stand-alone service, possibly with older rolling stock. However it would be faster, with the service running non-stop between Falmer and Brighton, with extra services from Lewes serving the intermediate stops.

All stakeholders & users are encouraged to read the consultation carefully. There are some good possibilities, but some negative options built-in. Everyone can respond, including our pro-public-transport political representatives who need to be aware of the overall feeling.