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There will be major changes to Southern and Gatwick Express services this Christmas and New Year due to engineering works taking place.

Southern has urged passengers to check before they travel over the Christmas period and also to allow extra time for their journey because of the disruption.

The Network Rail project at Purley will sever the main line, which means that there will be changes to trains to Gatwick Airport from London and coastal services to London from 11pm on Christmas Eve until 4am on Monday 4th January.

As a result, there will be no trains between South Croydon and Redhill and no Thameslink services between East Croydon and Three Bridges. Travelling by train between London and the coast will still be viable however, the journeys will be diverted and take longer and be busier.

There will be bus replacements to make sure that passengers can complete their journeys during this busy time.

“This is a major piece of engineering work by Network Rail and when finished, will provide a more reliable infrastructure at a critical point on our network,” said a Southern and Gatwick Express spokesperson. “We’re putting arrangements in place to keep passengers moving while these essential works are being done.”

Although the Gatwick Express service will not run over Christmas, travelling by train to Gatwick Airport from Brighton or coastal stations will not be affected.

Details of Christmas service routes and frequencies can be found here.

Details of journeys and train times are now available here.

Southern has been shortlisted for a number of awards at this year’s Community Rail awards, recognising a range of community and passenger improvement programmes.

The awards, organised by the Association of Community Rail Partnership Awards, provide an opportunity to recognise the unsung heroes and heroines of the community rail world, recognising hard work and dedication.

Southern has been shortlisted as finalists in the following categories:

Community Art Schemes – Renewable and Small Projects – Purley station subway art mural, which saw Southern work with a local school to produce a stunning piece of art to brighten up the subway. The work was the suggestion of one of the local team and the children used the local town and its location as the inspiration for the mural.

Most Enhanced Station Building – Development of Hassocks station. Over recent years Hassocks station has been transformed, with a brand new building, which is both modern and blended into the local area, and made accessible, with new lifts. Alongside this the station’s partnership has provided beautiful flowers and the new cycle hub includes a community-run bike hire shop.

Passengers Matter – This Is Me campaign, brought together feedback from passengers with access needs to create posters, leaflets and videos. For staff this has become part of the training and team brief process. The material was also used to promote the assistance services Southern offer to passengers. The campaign has been extremely well received, with our assistance feedback improving to an even higher standard.

Southern is also shortlisted with the Sussex Community Rail Partnership (SCRP) for two projects: the National Citizenship Project art mural at London Road (Brighton) and Chatsmore art project. The SCRP works closely with Southern across the south of the network and has a further four shortlistings with other partners too.

Winners of the awards will be announced on 1st October.

The new Passenger Services Directors are setting out plans as the train company Southern joins the Govia Thameslink franchise.

Southern and Gatwick Express retained their identity when they became part of the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise (GTR) on the 26th July.

David Scorey, the Passenger Services Director for Southern Mainline and Coast, said: “One of my key priorities is to improve the reliability of our services. With the new timetable in place our passengers should already have noticed a change for the better, and we will work hard to continue this progress.”

The GTR franchise will see the introduction of three new train fleets, 10,000 additional peak-time seats into London, a £50 million investment in station improvements and a transformation in train travel in 2018 when it is completed by the Thameslink Programme.

There are more improvements planned for the franchise and to find more detail about what can be expected click here.

“Many passengers already use ticketing smartcards and I aim to build on this, as it’s not just more convenient, but also helps us to understand passengers’ travel needs,” said Alex Foulds, the Passenger Services Director for Southern Metro. “I’ll also make sure that they have clean and well-maintained stations and trains, with good facilities and shops.”

The investment in GTR means that there is funding available for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, retail facilities, help points and car park improvements. In addition, there are plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.

The new franchise holds 22% of all UK passengers, employs 6,500 people, and has £1.3 billion annual revenue and a £50 million investment to enhance all 239 stations. There will also be an upgrade to trains, with 1,398 new train carriages and additional morning peak seats into London.

Angie Doll, the Passenger Services Director for Gatwick Express, said: “My overall priority is to improve passengers’ experience of travelling on Gatwick Express from start to finish, so we’re working much more closely with Gatwick Airport to make sure our services are integrated.”

GTR release a twice-yearly customer report called Connections. Readers of this will be able to keep track of whether GTR has met its targets and commitments and also read about GTR’s plans for the future. Customers will also be able to read about the improvements that the franchise has made according to the feedback they got from the public.

Connections can be downloaded here.

More information can be found on the Southern railway website and the Gatwick Express website.

E-cigarettes have split opinions across the UK and Southern Rail will introduce a ban across all services as well as at stations. From the 26th of July, passengers will not be able to use the devices on trains or on stations that are operated by the company.

The operator runs the Gatwick Express service and so it brings these companies and other firms in line with the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise. Overall, Southern manages 156 stations in London, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent. Its passengers make an average of 446,500 journeys per day on the trains, the firm stated.

Other businesses have already banned e-cigarettes and this includes Thameslink and Great Northern as well as Transport for London.

Not only are transportation services banning e-cigarettes, but also people will be banned from using the devices in enclosed spaces in Wales. This includes restaurants, pubs, taxis, lorries and at work and is likely to come into effect during 2017. This plan has divided opinions between health and medical groups, which includes some anti-smoking campaigners.

A grand total of 2.6 million adults use e-cigarettes in Britain and so the new laws in Wales as well as the ban of them on rail services is bound to cause controversy.

The planned rail strikes in June have been suspended due to talks over another pay deal, the arbitration service Acas has said.

Network Rail workers from the RMT union were expected to take a 24-hour strike on Thursday at 17:00 BST along with a 48-hour walk out next week. The RMT has a total of 16,000 members at Network Rail in operations and maintenance.

Acas stated that the four days of talks helped to convey revised proposals for the RMT and other unions to consider. Mick Cash, who is the RMT general secretary, said that the union would consult on the details involving the revised package. People who are members of the TSSA and Unite unions will also be consulted.

The strike was previously going to be held over the May bank holiday but was suspended by the RMT and TSSA because Network Rail changed their offer. As recent events show, the members did not accept the offer.

The past two deals failed to meet the expectations of workers, with the original offer including a four-year deal of a single payment of £500 along with three years of rises in line with RPI inflation. The revised offer was over the course of two years, involving a 1% rise this year and a rise of around 1.4% next year. This deal also stated that there would be no compulsory redundancies for the duration of the agreement.

Some good news before the bank holiday weekend.

Rail unions have called off the national bank holiday rail strike because of a different offer from Network Rail. The strike was going to happen because of a row over pay and members of the RMT and TSSA unions had woohooplanned to walk out for 24 hours from 17:00 BST on Monday.

Once the TSSA called off its action, the RMT said their union’s executive had decided to suspend their strike. As a result, many train services will now run as expected on Monday and Tuesday, meaning rail passengers will have a smooth journey. The only down side are the engineering works that are due to happen on some lines.

The unions originally declined the offer of a four-year deal that included a single £500 payment and three years of rises in line with RPI inflation. The details of the new offer have not yet been revealed.

Lawyers for Network Rail paused their plans to take legal action against the TSSA because of the way its ballot had been conducted. Due to the strike, passengers had been warned that they should of expected travel chaos. Not only that, but they were told they should not travel at all if the strike went ahead, which would have meant thousands of signalers, maintenance staff and station workers would have walked out.

Even though the strike was supposed to only last until Tuesday, services would still have been affected on Wednesday when services returned to normal because of cancellations.

Southern Railway’s have informed us that a new summer timetable will come into effect on Sunday 17th May and has been designed to improve performance on the rail network.

The changes also include timing certain trains so that they leave slightly earlier and so Southern advises passengers to check before they travel. The timetable incorporates further changes that will ease congestion and reduce the risk of delays at London Bridge, which is still being rebuilt as part of the Thameslink Programme.

The reconstruction at London Bridge station began to cause challenges in January, where there were only three tracks available to operate on. The reduced infrastructure was unable to cope with the number of trains, which had an adverse effect on performance.

Southern made changes to certain peak train times into and out of London Bridge and they have said that this has improved the overall performance.

The new timetable information is available at www.southernrailway.com, on the app (Southern On Track) and on National Rail Enquiries.

 

Southeastern today announced a freeze on super off peak fares for 2015 that will cut the cost of more than one million off peak journeys for passengers in Kent and East Sussex. The company is also making the special fares available on more routes, including Britain’s only high speed service, which runs from Kent into London.

The train operator also announced it will offer Advance fares for the first time in 2015 – allowing customers a discount by pre-booking off peak fares via the Southeastern website.

The news follows the Chancellor’s announcement that regulated rail fares for 2015 will increase by 2.5 percent. The overall average increase in regulated (season ticket) and unregulated (off peak) fares on the Southeastern network will be below inflation and limited to 2.2 percent.hastings-train-station

The fares passengers pay help to fund a huge programme of investment, in addition to paying for the day-to-day running of the rail network. Southeastern has already announced that it will invest more than £70 million in improving its trains, stations and information provision over the next three years.

Planned improvements include:

·         A new timetable delivering more Highspeed services, and new journey opportunities designed to help passengers during the three year rebuild of London Bridge station as part of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme

·         More than 95,000 extra seats on off-peak services, including 1,000 extra seats on Southeastern’s High Speed services every day and 2,000 extra seats in the afternoon peak from January 2015

·         Up to 75 extra staff will be hired and deployed to gatelines at key stations

·         170 more customer service staff at key stations throughout each major timetable change to help passengers with information and provide advice on alternative travel options

·         The opening hours of Cannon Street station will be extended so that staff are available between 04.30 and 01.30 and to accommodate services running into the station later in the day

·         Train crew and  station gateline staff will be given tablet devices to ensure better access to train service information (by 31 July 2015)

·         20 new information screens will be installed at key stations to enhance the way information is shared during disruption (by 1 April 2015)

·         Investing a further £4.8 million in station improvements

·         A deep clean of all stations (by 30 September 2015)

·         Installing 63 more self service ticket machines at stations

Since October, Southeastern has offered a series of discounts to cut the cost of travel for its passengers. Its GroupSave fares offer a 34 per cent discount for passengers travelling in a group of three to nine compared with the price of individual adult tickets. Throughout December, the company is also running a Christmas sale with 25 per cent off the cost of many standard off-peak train tickets, including the high speed service, when tickets are bought online at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk.

David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, said: “We know that customers want more value for money and an improvement to their service – and we’re committed to providing just that. More than 250,000 people rely on our trains for their journeys every day and we’re investing fares directly in schemes that will make those journeys easier for our passengers. These include extra seats on some services, providing more staff to help passengers at stations and on trains, refreshing the look of our fleet of trains and improving stations right across our network.”

Southeastern trains 2015 timetable published.

Southeastern has today published the proposed timetable for January 2015 at www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/your-journey/timetables/januarytimetable/, giving passengers advance notice about upcoming improvements to services and the changes needed to accommodate construction work at London Bridge station.

The work at London Bridge is part of the £6.5 billion government-sponsored Thameslink Programme – which will dramatically increase capacity on one of Europe’s busiest stretches of railway.

Once complete, the station will include new platforms for more trains and a huge new concourse. Work will also commence on untangling the track southeastern-CharingX1-trainsoutside the station, which will reduce delays from trains crossing pathways and waiting outside the station for platforms to clear.

From January 2015, work will commence on Southeastern’s platforms 4, 5 and 6 and the approaching track and signalling. Southeastern’s new timetable includes the service changes required for when construction work starts and also provides new long-term improvements developed to provide extra services and new journey opportunities.

The Southeastern trains 2015 timetable has been developed following consultation with passengers and stakeholders.

The principal changes to services to accommodate the Thameslink construction include:

  • Charing Cross trains won’t stop at London Bridge from January 2015 until August 2016. Then Cannon Street trains won’t stop there until early 2018
  • Greenwich line services will no longer run direct to Charing Cross and will only run to Cannon Street, and there will be fewer peak trains (one less train in the morning peak, and three less trains in the evening peak). The line will be served by longer trains to boost capacity in the peak hour
  • New Cross and St Johns trains will only run to Cannon Street
  • Some trains will be diverted to London Blackfriars instead of Cannon Street or Charing Cross
  • Longer metro trains to increase capacity
  • Longer opening hours for Cannon Street station (0500-0100), including all day opening on Sundays. (Cannon Street tube station to also offer longer opening hours)
  • Diversion of some trains on Metro and Mainline services such as from Rochester, Broadstairs, Ashford, Dover and Orpington into London Blackfriars
  • All current Rochester to Bedford and Ashford to Bedford services (and vice versa) will start and  terminate at London Blackfriars
  • Catford Loop services no longer part of the Southeastern timetable (as these will have transferred to the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in December)

Long-term service improvements include:

  • Highspeed:
    • A new Highspeed ‘rounder’ service improving connections between London and North / East Kent, providing another choice of London terminal
    • Highspeed trains will stop at Snodland, Birchington-on-Sea, Martin Mill and Walmer for the first time
    • Extra seats on the Highspeed service (with 698 seats at Ashford in the morning peak and 349 extra seats from Ebbsfleet.)
    • Two additional Highspeed trains from Margate and Broadstairs creating a half hourly service at these stations in the morning peak
    • An additional Highspeed service from Ramsgate via Canterbury to St Pancras
    • A reduction of splitting and joining on the Mainline and Highspeed services
    • A new hourly direct off-peak service between Maidstone East and Canterbury West
    • A new fast service from Hastings to Charing Cross departing at 0804 and a Charing Cross to Hastings service departing at 1620, offering a 90 minute journey time
    • A new peak hour service from Maidstone East to Blackfriars departing at 0845
    • A new Blackfriars to Maidstone East service departing at 0719
    • New additional services between Dartford and London Victoria at 0640 and then new later services half hourly from 1905 until 2308 (Dartford to Victoria) and from 2039 until 0009 (Victoria to Dartford)
    • A new direct through-service between London Victoria and Sheerness-on-Sea (two trains in  the morning peak and two trains in the evening peak)

hastings-train-stationSoutheastern have said that they are committed to providing improvements to services and keeping passengers informed during the London Bridge work, and they say that today’s announcement is the first stage in assisting its customers with forward-planning for the period.

The company has stated that it is also working together with the transport industry through the Travel Demand Management Board to co-ordinate planning – and more detailed information, including routing advice will be communicated over the coming months.  The rail industry is also working out how these specific service changes affect ticketing, with the objective that customers shouldn’t be out of pocket while Network Rail is doing this crucial work.

Charles Horton, managing director of Southeastern, said: “The project to rebuild London Bridge station is an enormous challenge and one of the biggest railway construction projects since the Second World War.

“The government investment will provide a brand new station with a concourse the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium, new journey opportunities to the north and south of England, and this will untangle the railway lines to remove the bottleneck we experience today.

“This will however, mean our passengers, particularly those who use London Bridge station will need to change their travel patterns while the work is carried out. We’ve got a huge job to provide a service that meets demand at a time when track capacity has much reduced, and we’ve developed a timetable – with new journey opportunities, longer trains and later services to help meet that challenge. 

“We consulted with our customers and stakeholders to develop our plans and this timetable balances the competing needs of passengers with the infrastructure constraints.

“Today we’ve released the timetables early, so that customers can look at the changes and start to plan ahead, and as we move closer to 11 January 2015, when the Southeastern trains 2015 timetable takes effect, we’ll be ramping up our efforts to keep people informed.” 

The Rail Minister, Stephen Hammond MP has today confirmed that there will be an additional, fast train running from Hastings to London Charing Cross during peak hours in the morning and evening. This service will operate a direct train between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells and start running from January 2015 as part of the new timetable for the next franchise.

hastings-train-station

The Hastings Express is coming in 2015.

This new Hastings Express, which is in addition to the current service, is believed to be the first ever train to run direct from Hastings to Tunbridge Wells.

Most commuters know that once you get to Tunbridge Wells the rest of the Journey to London only takes 45 mins.

With the current time around the 1.5 to 2 hour mark this will save significant time for commuters and visitors to London and make Hastings an even more attractive location for investment which will make it an ideal location for businesses from all sectors to thrive in.

The Short travel time from Brighton to London has helped the City grow significantly over the years and if Hastings can get near this it will make Hastings a very popular place to live as well as property prices are some of the lowest in the Southeast.