An update from Parliament

Essentially there are 4 key issues currently impacting travel on the trains in our area currently:

  • Our ‘unfair’ fares that create the ‘Redhill Hump’ and lack of availability of Oyster/Contactless at Reigate.
  • Issues with infrastructure (Regiate’s platform can’t take the Thameslink Trains, and Stoates Nest Junction restricts the number of trains that can cross it.
  • No ‘industry compensation’ for Reigate/Nutfield
  • Trains missing form the May 2018 timetable (still)

While it hasn’t all been in the public domain we’ve been working with Crispin Blunt our local MP and RRDRUA President on many of the issues above for some time. Frustratingly when the RRDRUA makes progress with a transport minister their inevitably loose their job and it all starts again.

Continually promised action in meetings with ministers and the DFT (many of which RRDRUA committee members have attended over the years) Crispin has like us reached the limits of his frustration. Acting on this he secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons raise our issues.

Jo Johnson then had to address the issues raised by Crispin, which are a matter of record in the house.

The full transcript of the debate can be read here.
And you can watch the snippet from the House of Commons here.

In brief summary:

  • Fares – Whilst not suggesting Oyster zones would happen, and instead suggesting modern ticketing with pay as your go or smart card payment is the future – he did confirm that the ‘Redhill Hump’ would be addressed before the end of the current GTR contract. And this would start in January. We have no further detail of this yet – but it’s a big win. Either by reduction or fare freezing our fares will be brought in line with those around us.
  • Reigate Platform 3 – This has been included in the scope of the project or the Brighton Mainline upgrade. Whilst it won’t happen over night, it’s on the books for consideration – a new longer platform at Reigate would allow the return of direct London Bridge services via Thameslink.
  • Industry Compensation – No movement on this what so ever. Reigate/Tonbridge line passengers. Or those that purchased Dorking tickets are excluded, and are still excluded.
  • The May 2018 Timetable – Jo Johnson said that in December 18 more trains will be added to our services through Redhill/Merstham. And we assume some of these will also stop at stations south of Redhill too. Conveniently there are 18 trains currently missing form our weekday timetable. Weekends are of course still very much missing in action.

We’ve made some big progress today with big thanks to Crispin Blunt MP for securing the debate and representing our issues.

If you have any comments or questions please let us know.

Finally apologies if you made it to Westminster for the debate at 5pm. Whilst Parliament has a set start time – all business follows the last business. And an earlier debate was short a number of speakers which brought us forwards – we had little notice this would happen.

Crispin Blunt to challenge Chris Grayling in Parliament 18/10/2018

Following repeated correspondence over the summer with Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport Crispin Blunt had a meeting with the Rail Minister earlier this week to address a series of issues particular to the Reigate and Redhill District rail users, in addition to the wider issues of the generally appalling service standards on the line.

These included timetabling, fares, compensation, platform investment, and access to Oyster, among others. Some of these issues have been being discussed in detail with previous Rail Ministers for over 4 years to no avail. This meeting produced nothing that could be reported to rail users except that the DfT remained resolute that no compensation would be available to Reigate station users following the 2018 summer timetable debacle. The irony that it was the removal of the London Bridge service from Reigate in those timetable changes that forced Reigate users to use the failing Thameslink services from Redhill, and yet are ineligible for compensation, appeared to be entirely lost on the Minister and his officials.

In response to this, Crispin Blunt has successfully applied for a short debate in the House of Commons Chamber next Thursday 18th October at 5pm. This will enable him to publicly make the case for at least some resolution of the issues particular to our area. In reply the Rail Minister will have the opportunity to publicly explain whether he has been able to find any amelioration or even a real prospect of improvement in the local service, from which his department receives all the fare income.

The minister’s reply on behalf of the Transport Secretary will condition whether Crispin as both MP for Reigate and President of the Rail Users Association will be able to continue to express confidence Chris Grayling management of the Department for Transport.

All RRDRUA members are invited and indeed encouraged to be present in the viewing gallery, House of Commons, to support Crispin in his efforts to make our voice heard and to meet together afterwards in Westminster Hall to have a brief post debate discussion on what we have heard from the DfT. Please allow 30 mins to get through HoC security – no need for a ticket, just some identity, for the gallery. Crispin would be pleased to see the passengers he is working for and account directly to them on Thursday.

Details on how to attend

Instructions for those coming to see Crispin in the House of Commons on Thursday 10 October 2018.

The debate is currently scheduled for 5pm but please arrive in plenty of time to clear security.

Please can RRDRUA attendees to enter through the Cromwell Green entrance (see attached map) and make their way to Central Lobby via the main Visitor’s entrance, allowing at least 30 minutes to clear security.

Then, they should ask to be directed to the Admission Order Office where you gain entry to the public gallery. The office is located just off Central Lobby behind the statue of William Gladstone.

Gareth Owen will be in the gallery to arrange the meeting with Crispin in Westminster hall afterwards.

You do not always need it, but it may be useful to take a driving license or other picture ID.

After an Abysmal first week Thameslink completely collapses on Saturday

We knew there was going to be teething issues in the first few weeks, but last week was terrible for regular commuters in our area:

  • Over crowded trains they weren’t able to board (both in the morning and evening peak). Including running only 8 car trains through London Bridge at 17:21 and 17:51 which were already full by the time they got to London Bridge.
  • Trains terminating at East Croydon and being emptied of passengers as the driver hadn’t been trained on the route.

Not to mention plenty of late trains and drivers and onboard supervisors advising that the train is held at a red signal as the line ahead is congested.

The Peak evening Thameslink service (looking at trains between 16:30 and 19:01) ran with a 30% cancellation rate!

If you add to this the number of trains later than 15 mins (which are eligible for Delay Repay) the number of disrupted trains climbs to 57%.

Complete collapse of service on Saturday

There’s so much more we could say about the first week, but we need to turn our attention to Saturday, and the complete collapse of Thameslink south of London with no communication from Thameslink to passengers what so ever.

At time of publishing 100% of Thameslink trains that would call in the Redhill area have been cancelled.

  • Horley, Salfords, Earlswood have had no trains to London.
  • Redhill has diverted South Eastern services running though to Charing Cross.
  • Reigate, Redhill, Merstham have a short Victoria service (4 coaches only).
  • The Horsham to London Bridge service is running only between Horsham and Redhill it appears.

And according to the Association of British Commuters on twitter it was known it was going to happen. As railway workers were advised as early as 13:01 on Friday afternoon.

This is completely unacceptable. The weekday commute is not the only use of the railway. Many people also work on the weekends, or at the Weekends travel for leisure, and everyone with an annual season ticket is entitled to.

As a rail users association we’ve asked Thameslink what has happened and why there has been no communication to customers. We have yet to see a response.

Over on twitter (at time of publication) there is no information as to why this is the case. When asked they replied with:

“Hi, these are unfortunately cancelled with the short term timetable amendments. My apologies for this. I’d recommend a difference[sic] route (i.e. Metrobus to Gatwick)”

The complete lack of communication is completely unacceptable! 

Note – Information on train running and punctuality checked on http://recenttraintimes.co.uk

Temporary changes to the first few weeks of the new Timetable

May Timetable Changes

They’ve had months to get ready, but it’s such an enormous logistical challenge not everything will be ready on day one. And it’s understandable, with the largest ever timetable change, with trains and crew running new routes. Not everything will be where it needs to be on Monday morning.

So to help you navigate what’s not going to be there we’ve compiled the list of Thameslink trains below that will be missing.

Note ALL trains running to London Bridge will be ‘Thameslink’.

New Timetable day 1 (Mon 21 May)

06:00 & 06:30 From London Bridge.

These also are our early morning Gatwick services at 06:37 and 07:07 from Redhill (also Call at Merstham, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley)

For the former from Merstham you will need to catch 06:11 Reigate (instead of 06:32 – much earlier) and Change at Redhill where a bus will leave at 6:25 and another bus will leave at 06:55 calling all stations to Gatwick.

This is for first day only to get stock in right place from Day 2 these trains will run as normal.

Week 1 (starting 21 May running Mon – Fri)

Some Horsham to Peterborough and back trains will not run.

  • 05:51 Horley, 05:59 Redhill, 06:03 Merstham
  • 09:21 Horley, 09:29 Redhill, 09:33 Merstham
  • Additionally (time departing Redhill)  11:59, 15:29, 17:59, 21:29

From London back to our area (times based on a departure from London Bridge) calling at Merstham, Redhill, Horley

  • 07:30, 10:00, 13:30, 16:00, 19:30, 22:00

Week 2 (starting 28 May running Mon – Fri)

Some Horsham to Peterborough and back trains will not run.

  • 09:21 Horley, 09:29 Redhill, 09:33 Merstham
  • Then (Redhill time) 15:29, 21:29

From London back to our area (times based on a departure from London Bridge) calling at Merstham, Redhill, Horley

  • 07:30, 13:30, 19:30

The above may change and we hope that they’re able to start running them soon. As always the planners will be up to date with which trains will and won’t be present. You can check this in your favourite app, at the Southern or Thameslink website, or via realtimetrains.co.uk.

New London Thameslink tickets from Redhill stations

Shard concourse at London Bridge

The new ‘London Thameslink’ ticket type has appeared when booking tickets online or at the ticket vending machines.

With Southen Rail all but disappearing from the Redhill Route to be replaced by Thameslink through the May 2018 Timetable changes this new ticket might be of use for some passengers.

When you search for a ticket or season ticket on the planners you’ll now see a new option ‘London Thameslink’ as a destination (not to be confused with the station ‘City Thameslink’ – they didn’t really think that through).

The new ticket destination is effectively a replacement for current tickets to named stations such as London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St Pancras.

The valid stations in London available are shown below:

London Thameslink

  • London St Pancras
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Farringdon
  • London Blackfriars
  • London Bridge
  • City Thameslink

London Terminals

  • London Victoria
  • London Waterloo
  • London Cannon Street
  • London Charing Cross
  • London Blackfriars
  • London Waterloo East
  • Vauxhall
  • London Bridge
  • City Thameslink

Technically a ‘London Terminals’ ticket would allow you access to Elephant & Castle as this is on route to London Bridge. The benefit here of the ‘London Thameslink’ ticket would be for passengers travelling from the North down into London. More details on a London Terminals ticket can be found on National Rail Enquiries.

There isn’t a big difference in pricing the London Thameslink ticket and it will be useful if you travel onto Farringdon, or St Pancras from the south, and down to Elephant & Castle for those travelling from the north. But for our area excludes access to stations such as Victoria.

Example pricing at time of writing is (excluding underground travel card) is below.

 London Terminals London Thameslink
Weekly £68.60 £71.00
Monthly £263.50 £272.70
Annual £2744 £2840

If you already hold a season ticket that is to a named station such as London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon or St Pancras only we have been advised if you head to a ticket office you may be able to upgrade your ticket to a ‘London Thameslink’ at no additional.

May Timetable changes station guide

May Timetable Changes

The massive Timetable consultation is over and in a weeks’ time, the new GTR timetable will be in place for better or worse.

We should remember that this change is about making the service more regular not faster, to make the service more reliable not faster and to contain disruption affects to individual routes rather than across the network, not faster. We believe Redhill has not come out well but do understand the reasons are one of infrastructure (we need to cross fast lines to access them for all services) not a war against Redhill.

We will find all our London Bridge services run by Thameslink and all continuing through the Thameslink core in Central London to strange places north of London. The benefit will be getting to more of London directly rather than having services to Peterborough.

Many of our stations will see the majority of trains run by Thameslink as Southern will only provide a few trains in the peak South of Redhill towards Gatwick. This has led to the loss of useful cheaper tickets (“Southern only”) for London Bridge, increasing season tickets by around 17%. We will continue our fight for Fair Fares on this issue.

I’ve prepared some short PDF’s talking about the changes for each station and some timetables for morning and evening peaks to London (except Merstham as your service improves so much). I have also done a sheet for Redhill & Earlswood to/from Brighton in the peaks as well.

Additionally

For Godstone and Salfords I’ve added you as supplementary to Nutfield and Earlswood respectively as all trains that call at one call at the other.

RRDRUA Response to DFT action plan on ticketing

700110 at London Blackfriars working 3T13 London Blackfriars to Three Bridges TL Up Depot

With the announcement this morning by the Rail Delivery Group  that they will be launching a consultation on Rail Fares we’ve taken the opportunity to publish the response we sent the DFT when they announced their Action Plan on ticketing.

Redhill is a perfect micro climate of everything that’s wrong with the current system

  • Confusing multi ‘network’ tickets which are actually for the same train company (Gatwick Express, Southern ‘only’, Thameslink ‘only’).
  • Oyster at some stations (but not all) and not within a zone.
  • No easy access to the new Key Go product (due to the conflict with Oyster).
  • Historic fare issues that mean most travellers buy a ticket from further down the line than their own station.

We will be submitting a response from our members to the consultation and have reached out specifically asking to be involved in the process.

RRDRUA Response to DFT action plan on ticketing

Redhill has suffered from unfair pricing structures in Rail ticketing for many years. The ‘Redhill fares hump’ has become a national disgrace mentioned in national media and upsetting to the many rail users locally. Here fares to London go up for Redhill and then down again as you head into Sussex further away from London. There is also a 47% increase in fare cost from Coulsdon South to Redhill – just two stations apart.

This puts us in a unique position to understand the benefits and failures of the ticketing process and the research we have done enables us to comment on the current situation from a point where we are totally frustrated by the current system.

In considering the current system and the DfT publications we believe we should put our own ideas forward.

How to create a fair fares system

The Department for Transport has issued its update on the Action Plan: Information on Rail Fares & ticketing in December 2017.

It is prepared in association with the Office of Road and Rail, Rail Delivery Group, Transport Focus (passenger watchdog) and Which? Consumer Association.

Whilst it is earnest in its attempts to fix perceived issues in ticketing, its focus is too narrow, and it does not ask the fundamental question: What Tickets do Passengers really want?

The Current system of Rail Fares is based on systems set early in the last century and is designed for users who occasionally use the system, revolving around long distance fares. It is very complex and there are many different types and validity of tickets which users generally are very lost and failing to understand which results in many fares being overcharged.

This current system needs a full overhaul starting from basic principles rather than a fix!

Issues in the current system

Let’s create an example: –

As a rail user from Redhill Station our passengers want to buy a ticket to London, they are not sure what time they want to leave but somewhere between 8:30 and 10:00 and return could be any time same day.

Our User logs into Southern’s Web portal for tickets and immediately is offered many options for ticket types and fare structures: London Terminals, London Zone 1-6, peak, off-peak, Thameslink only, Southern Only and Any Permitted.

They are also given an array of trains to catch and which tickets are valid in which trains from which he needs to choose. Redhill is 30-40 minutes from London, so the rail user really just want to turn up to the station not spend 30 minutes online choosing a ticket – the last thing needed is a huge array of different tickets for different trains.

Let’s say they plan to just go to London Bridge, so the best fare is not offered by the online portal as it is actually from Gatwick Airport as London Bridge only tickets are not available from Redhill. Southern’s Web Portal will not show this as an option as they didn’t ask from Gatwick.

The Issues here are that our Rail user doesn’t need a vast array of different fares, he needs a simple fare that allows him to turn up and use. The system is far too complex for the Redhill user on a 30-40 journey and options need to be reduced.

However, if our Rail users are travelling from Newcastle to London, it’s a 3 or 4 hour journey and so they wouldn’t be likely to do regular so the vast options of times and fares is much more appropriate.

Thus, for a Redhill User getting the same complexities on Season Tickets it becomes difficult as their journeys are unlikely to be constant and will need add on all the time. Plus, if the user is travelling to London there will be a portion of their journeys that are not just to one destination and they may sometimes want to travel round London as well. The current fixed end to end season tickets do not cater for this.

Thus, these examples have shown there are at least two types of Rail user whose ticket needs

are different: –

  • Long Distance Infrequent Travellers
  • Regular Short distance travellers around big conurbations

There are of course many different travellers, but the Current fare structure is set up as if all customers are the long-distance type and trying to make a fare system fit all is not appropriate.

How to solve the short distance customer

This has already been done and very well in a way that has increased customer usage and is popular with users. It is of course the system operated in London by TfL. It works by using zonal pricing and loading journeys via a straightforward smart card (or contactless cards).

This system records usage and works out for the passengers the cheapest fares and introduces capping on daily limits based on the area travelled to – this creates trust in the system. It is simple to use as it requires a simple card to be touched in whenever journeys start and finish. It also enables online access to travel records, so easy for passengers to see what journeys have been made and the costs charged.

It also has a simple system to charge for peak travel by having a different price if you start a journey at set peak times which are clearly advertised. This is clear and consistent across

London, which allows users to turn up knowing when cheaper fares start. Then every journey or series of journeys can only have two prices (peak or not peak). This the regular commuter can understand and at the same time it will encourage others to use the system as it has become much simpler.

It also works as the service is split into Zones and the price from one zone to another is simply understood. To cross a set number of zones the price is fixed by the number of Zones crossed.

The price to East or West Croydon is the same as they are both in the same Zone 5, so the passenger doesn’t have the problem of deciding which station to go to as it might be cheaper to the other one. Stations on Zone borders are dual zoned so that passengers can approach from either side. This simplification of fares needs to be applied.

Putting into Practice

Any station that has a peak time excess of commuters to a major conurbation should have access to Zonal fares. This applies to Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham and others as much as London. However, as a Redhill Rail user group we will focus on putting this concept in practice around London.

To make it work around London first the department must accept that the current complex system does not work very well. It produces confusion and resentment when passengers find travellers getting cheaper tickets for longer journeys.

The complex Fare Structure is also putting people off using Rail travel meaning users resort to cars because they don’t understand the rail fare system. When Zone Fares were introduced to London, public transport usage soared as people felt they get a fair deal for their money and it was simple to understand.

For a Zonal system to work it must also be used for short local journeys creating the habit for people to be able to just get on a train and use it. So, getting people to decide to use the train from Redhill to Horley is as important as Redhill to London.

The Zones around London are about as far as you can go with circular zones around London, as they get further out there becomes a need to split them geographically (see appendix).

This is to avoid a person travelling to central London getting the same price as someone who goes through London to the opposite side of the zone for little extra cost.

Fortunately, the railway lines around London are shaped in spokes from major central London stations, So, it would be very easy to create quadrants grouped around the major stations. Thus, South of London you would have three zones based on SouthEastern, Southern and South Western Trains networks.

Within these you would have Zones depending on distance from London. So taking Southern as an example. The first Zone might be to Earlswood, then to Gatwick, then to Crawley and lastly to Horsham. This is shown below:

For any journey within the zones only zone fares should apply. The fare for all journeys should be calculated at a standard price per zone. If your journey contains legs in four zones you pay for four zones, if just one zone then you pay for one. There should also be a capping system based on the Zone covered so that if you make multiple journeys you only pay the rate for crossing each zone once. The Caps should be based on number of Zones you cross.

The Caps would encourage more usage of Rail systems and other public transport. As people get comfortable in using public transport because the system is easy to access. Currently there is confusion because it is very difficult to access.

This creates a simple fare structure that avoids the need for complex calculations or decision making.

Add local bus services to the payment system and that makes getting to and from the station simple with only one item needed for payment of both the bus fare.

For places outside of the zone map the fare shall be based on a cost to the zone edge and then the appropriate zone fare within. For longer distance fares crossing the zone system (i.e. Brighton to Newcastle) there would be two top up fares [Brighton to Zone Edge & Zone Edge to Newcastle} and the Zone price in the middle. That means all travellers crossing London pay the same.

Web ticketing

Web sites have a place in future Rail ticketing, but it is for long distance services as they do not work for simple local journeys. If you are travelling to London 8 or 9 times a month from

Redhill you do not want to go online every time to buy a ticket, hence the need for a simple system of being able to turn up at the station and get on a train. That is where the simplicity of Zonal fares works. The Rail User knows the price will be the cheapest so doesn’t need to worry about checking prices.

Smart Cards

The idea of loading a ticket onto a smart card is beneficial for the environment but has no use to a regular traveller. First you have to go online to book a ticket and then the systems need to make sure at the tap in point it is possible to load the ticket.

The problem with the system is that the system needs to load a ticket onto a card which requires significant intelligence within the card. Like all technology this has likelihood of breaking plus it needs to carry a lot of data which can get lost. Additionally, it is difficult for ordinary cards people are carrying such as Credit or Debit cards or mobile phones to be used with the system.

A simper system is to put the technology at the ticket barrier. This way the card is read where it “taps” in and where it “taps” out and the journey calculated by the central computers. The

Cards would contain RFID chips so they can be identified at each point. Thus, any card can be  used or a phone. That is where the simplicity of the Zone system works as the fare structure relies on a few points rather than complex fare structures and special tickets.

A potential risk is ticket inspections, but these can be simplified by having the card details read by the ticket inspector and where the ticket is recorded being fed into the system overnight. If the users haven’t tapped in and out on route where they could be that’s when the penalty system kicks in. The penalty fare can be charged straight to the users card, probably with a 28 day appeal procedure.

This takes out the risk a ticket inspector has with an individual as they don’t give out fines because this is done later. They also don’t have to carry technology to issue complex tickets.

Another way a simple zonal system will cut costs.

Staff can then be used more productively helping users around the system, assisting with disabled passengers and keeping the network up to scratch.

Conclusion

The Zonal system for fares is an intelligent, fair and simple response to the appalling complexities of the current structure. Point to point fares work for long distance travel such as airlines but for networks containing regular commuters it is much better to have a simple zone system. Less complexity, better understanding and easier for the technology to be used on.

We think a more general review of Rail ticketing should take place and that should consider the ease and simplicity of travelling for passengers who travel regularly. We would be more than happy to be involved as a passenger group which has suffered from badly thought through pricing structures and needless complexity.

How zone might be split by rail company

How to check what the May 2018 Timetable changes mean for you

May Timetable Changes

You will have seen our commentary and submissions on the 2018 Timetable Consultation that has been run to deliver a new Timetable covering Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, and Thameslink.

All of these changes are wrapped up in what’s called RailPlan20/20 and specially in our area many of our Southern Rail trains will be changed to Thameslink.

The new timetable has been published electronically (although some trains notable GWR which run from Reading to Gatwick via Reigate/Redhill) and a few Thameslink trains are missing).

Rail Plan 20/20

Every train in the timetable will have moved. Your usual train will NO LONGER be at the usual time and your journey duration will be different! 

To find out how your own personal journey will be impacted here’s what you can do to take a look right now.

1.  Head to your favourite online journey planner (this could be National Rail or Southern Rail or any of the Apps that provide train data.

2. Select your usual Journey (such as Earlswood to London Victoria) and the time of day that you would normally travel.

3. Update the date of your journey to be the 21 May 2018 (the first day of the new timetable being in place)

Note, if you put in a specific time of the train you would normally get you may want to wind back 30 mins at-least. Many trains will be running slightly earlier than they are currently timetabled.

For example:

The 06.42 from Earlswood to London Victoria calling at
– Redhill 06.46
– Merstham 06.50
– Coulsdon South 06.55
– Purley 06.59
– Easy Croydon 07.05
– Clapham Junction 07.17
– London Victoria 07.29

Giving a journey time of 47 min

Will become the the 06.30 Earlswood to London Victoria calling at
– Redhill 06.34
– Merstham 06.49
– Coulsdon South 06.54
– Purley 06.58
– East Croydon 07.04
– Clapham Junction 07.14
– London Victoria 07.22

Giving a ‘new an improved’ journey time of 52 min.

Would love to know what this means to YOUR journey and the impact it will have on your specific personal circumstances in the comments below. Not just earlier starts or longer journeys, but impacts on nursery, the school run, your working day, or onward travel when you arrive at hour destination in London or further south down the line.

 

Welcome to Redhill, here’s why you’ll still be stuck at the station this weekend (again)

You will likely have heard about the issues at Redhill Station on Sunday 25 February – when thousands of passengers were left stuck trying to complete their onward journey to Gatwick and the south coast by a lack of Rail Replacement busses.

If you saw that (and our response to it last weekend) and feel like you were missing out by not being involved your luck is in, as it looks like it will be a very similar story this weekend when the same engineering works take place.

As a local rail users association we wrote to Southern Rail in response to their plans before the issues happened, and we’ve been speaking to them again since in a bid to secure a better service over the next two weekends when the same line closure is happening.

The good news – they’ve been listening to us

The bad news – they’ve not really doing anything to solve the problem at Redhill on the trains although they’re going to give running busses a better go.

Our point of view

On the face of it this weekend they’ll be doing what they should have been doing last weekend on the bus front. However there simply won’t be enough trains.

Passengers at Merstham and Coulsdon South were unable to board services  last Sunday as they were full. The issue isn’t really being dealt with. All that’s been added to the Redhill route is the 4 extra coaches on the Victoria – Tonbridge (via Redhill) route.

The capacity issue is made worse as everyone from London Bridge will be turning up at East Croydon to board these services too – as the Thameslink trains south will not be running at all.

There should be more trains per hour provided to cope with the passenger demand in both directions.

Oh and not to mention Brighton at home against Arsenal this weekend.

So here’s the detail (and they have made some positive steps)

Travelling to Gatwick Airport or further south

If you need to get to Gatwick on Sunday 4 March you have several options, and most of them involve not using Redhill at all.

– An additional hourly service will run from Victoria to Horsham (via Dorking) meaning you can get to Gatwick on that – the train takes a big loop through Dorking down to Horsham, Three Bridges, and then Gatwick. It’ll be a 10 or 12 car train!
– You can also get one of the 2 trains per hour to East Grinstead from Victoria, and then transfer to a bus to Gatwick Airport.

In summary all your options are:

– 3 trains per hour Redhill – Victoria
– 1 train per hour Tonbridge – Victoria via Redhill
– 1 train per hour Gatwick Airport – Victoria via Horsham/Three Bridges
– 2 trains per hour East Grinstead – Victoria (with a bus link to Gatwick Airport)
– Buses between Gatwick Airport – East Grinstead
– Buses between Redhill – Gatwick Airport – Three Bridges

The Tonbridge train will now be 8 coaches instead of the 4 that it was last weekend. The Victoria to Redhill trains will be 12 coaches again.

Southern also tell us that they have extra standby busses to support the demand if needed, and some of the busses will run direct from Redhill to Gatwick Airport without pulling into all the other stations.

They also tell us that an ’emergency train’ will be sitting at Victoria in case it’s needed (why they don’t run it we don’t know).

At Redhill they tell us they’ll be doing a better job of making sure people and busses are managed effectively. There will be extra staff and bus controllers. The carpark at Redhill will be used to marshal people onto the busses with clear options for each destination.

 

The sneaky way Southern Rail avoid paying Delay Repay (UPDATED)

Delay Repay

Now other Train Operating Companies take note – this sneaky tactic by Southern Rail is one you should be copying. Here’s one simple move you can use against your paying commuters to remove all responsibility to get them to where they paid to be taken to – and avoid Delay Repay or the need to put on replacement busses.

This shocking tactic by Southern Rail is simple:

It all starts with some careful planning and the intention to not run  a train that is in the timetable. Simply don’t send the train…leaving the passengers standing on the platform or struggling to get home – but you have to do it in advance.

By doing it in advance you have the sneaky sneaky option of deleting the train from the timetable. Don’t report it as delayed or cancelled. Just delete it like it was never meant to be there.

This is brilliant, because people turn up at the time they would expect the train to run – you know because we plan ahead like the station announcements always tell us to do – some of the non season ticket holding customers even buy a ticket at the station. But when they turn up at the platform, the information board is simply blank. When they check their handy train time application – the train doesn’t appear to be showing in the timetable.

What’s more – you don’t have to provide any rail replacement busses, because the train was never in the timetable for the day.

And finally – when those angry commuters fill in the delay repay forms to claim compensation for the lack of train and the disruption of their journey – you can reject them – because you never timetabled it.

If you want to see this tactic in operation first hand – head to Reigate station in Surrey. Southern do it here quite a lot!

UPDATE

Southern Rail via Twitter now say that despite these trains being deleted from the timetable you can claim Delay Repay so we’re really like to hear from commuters who have tried and if you’ve been successful. Please let us know in the comments below.

However it’s still apparent that deleting the train from the timetable removes their responsibility to put on Rail Replacement busses.