Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has asked GTR and the Government to look again at the train timetable changes and reinstate peak time services from Hassocks.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) who operate Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express routes on the network have completed a three-phase consultation on timetable changes. The consultation was the biggest in UK rail history, with over 28,000 respondents. The new timetable will be brought into force on Sunday 20 May.
GTR describe this as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a more reliable service and extra capacity in the morning peak for 40,000 more passengers from across our network into London, with further expansion to 60,000 by the end of 2019.” This will mean that every train time, at every station, across the network is changing.
The Hassocks Amenity Association Rail Group proposed an amendment to the timetable, requesting that at least one of the two Gatwick Express trains each hour should stop at Clapham Junction. This would go some way towards alleviating the frustration felt by commuters if the direct peak-time service is removed altogether.
GTR have responded through the consultation, and directly to the Rail Group, saying their directive is to ensure that Gatwick Express trains run non-stop from Gatwick to London Victoria.
Mr Herbert raised the issue in a meeting with GTR’s senior management at the House of Commons last month, but was told that no changes could be made. He has now written to Charles Horton, Chief Executive of GTR, to press his concerns.
In his letter, the MP says that “many people have chosen to live in Hassocks precisely because of the available train services and destinations, but the proposed changes are disruptive for them.”
Mr Herbert points out that over the past 12 years passenger numbers on the Southern Network have doubled. In May there will be through trains to Cambridge via London Bridge, and Crossrail will operate from December this year, with significant journey connections at Farringdon. He asks: “Surely this is an opportunity to re-examine the rigid arrangements of the Gatwick Express being a non-stop premium service from Gatwick to London Victoria?”
Mr Herbert points out that the rapid growth of Hassocks through new housing will increase the size of the village by nearly a third, and warns that public services are not being expanded to match but are actually contracting, describing the situation as “intolerable”.
Mr Herbert has also written to the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, about the issue.