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.

Redhill chaos: And there’s 2 more weekends like this to come!

This weekend (24 & 25 February) saw line closes on the Brighton mainline and through Redhill to allow Network Rail to carry out necessary track improvement works.

Having seen the advance notice provided by Southern Rail of the shutdown and that on Sunday – specifically all Gatwick and South Cost bound passengers from London would be terminating at Redhill to transfer to busses – we wrote to Southern/Gatwick Express/Network Rail to warn that Redhill station couldn’t cope with the number of passengers arriving  or that there would be enough trains for onward travel for those returning to London.

Sadly, despite replying to our emails they didn’t listen or take any further action. And seeing what has happened this weekend – especially today at Redhill Station – Our Chairman Stephen Trigg has written again asking that they listen and take action.

Stephen’s note is below in full:


From: Stephen Trigg

Subject: ABSOLUTE FAILURE TO PLAN AHEAD [REDHILL 25/02/2018]

Date: 25 February 2018 at 18:28:27 GMT

To: Angie Doll, Stuart Cheshire
Cc: Tracy Hall  Scott Brightwell , Halsall John, Crispin Blunt, Jo Johnson, Linda McCord , Tim Bellenger, Tim Leighton

Dear Angie and Stuart,

As Passenger Directors of GTR Southern and GTR Thameslink I direct this email at you.

We tried as a Rail Users organisation to ask for better provision of services around the major closure between Gatwick and Redhill this Sunday (25/02) as we foresaw your plans were inadequate. We wrote to you and your teams several times concerned about the lack of service but only received replies from junior members of your team who didn’t seem to understand the problem. This is something you and your senior teams should have been on top of.

Today (Sunday) we have sadly been proved right. The situation at Redhill is extremely dangerous, not helped by the inadequate subway at the station that needs replacing anyway, inadequate space for buses to turn round and there are hundreds of passengers running all over Redhill Town centre trying desperately to get to their destinations by taxi or whatever other means they can find.

There is obviously not enough trains to get passengers to London nor are there enough buses to get people to Gatwick or the South Coast.

I have just driven past the station and there are people running across the main road with heavy cases. The situation is not just at the station but right into the town. I can see the police have been called to assist with the chaos your Company has created.

After the problems at Finsbury Park with overrunning engineering work in Christmas 2016, and at London Bridge the first day of the service cuts, we would have thought you would have tools to measure what is required for adequate provision of service. It sadly seems not.

I trust that you and Network Rail will cancel the next two weekends line closures until a point where you can work together to find a proper and safe solution.

We look forward to finding out how you will be doing this in future and happy to discuss if it will help.

Best Regards
Stephen

Stephen R Trigg | Chairperson | Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users’ Association
E Chairperson@rrdrua.org.uk

Slow Victoria Trains Killing Redhill

Tomorrow, GTR will launch their new Thameslink and Southern timetable that is supposed to transform travelling along the Brighton Main line. However passengers from the Redhill route are getting stuffed. The #RedhillMoo

In 2015 when cutting over half their London Bridge services Redhill commuters were promised, by no less than the “Passenger Service Director” of GTR Southern, that in May 2018 there would be a significant improvements to their services. This was a false promise, a complete lie to placate very angry commuters.

Well those commuters again are very angry, in May their Victoria service will take 11 minutes each way longer, that’s 22 minutes every day longer commute, that’s almost 2 hour longer commuting a week, or 3 and half days a year more on the train. An absolute nightmare for the 4 to 5,000 commuters who rely on these Victoria trains every day.

2,215 signed a petition calling on the DfT and GTR to reinstate the fast Victoria services, Charles Horton of GTR could not even be bothered to reply. The Ministers at the DfT both said it’s tough luck and undemocratically ignored the thousands of commuters from Redhill.

The DfT did say that the London Bridge services are better than the post cut service, true when you take out most of the trains as they did in 2015 and then reinstate some of them it will be better than the cut state. Reality is that between 6:30 and 8:00 there was 11 trains to London Bridge or Blackfriars in 2012 and in the new timetable there is just 9. That is not an improvement. They will also be the new Thameslink trains with Ironing board seats. So the new trains are less comfortable, less useful for working on due to lack of space around the seats, and more there will be less seats – the new trains drop from 754 seats in the old ones to just 666 in the new ones. Seats given away on services routinely full and timetables to take either 30 or 40 minutes to London.

DFT also said the journey time to London Bridge is faster to compensate for the Victoria trains going slower. Two very clear points from this, passengers for Victoria have no interest in a train service to London Bridge – its half way across town and if your commute is to Victoria, it is because you want to go to Victoria not London Bridge. Second when we used to have peak services to London Bridge in 2012 that took 25 or 27 minutes from Redhill, how can that be slower that the new services that take 30 minutes. More lies pedalled out.

The local passengers at Redhill want their Victoria service reinstated at 28 minutes to Victoria every half hour as it has been since the 1970’s.

This artile has been written because of the huge number of people realising that their daily lives are going to be heavily disrupted by the huge changes in services along the Redhill route. Arun Valley trains no longer call to save 5 minutes for their other passengers but the higher volume of passengers from Redhill are given 11 minutes extra to sit in trains. This will have an economic impact on Redhill as well, when local firms are already struggling to attract the right staff from London and Brighton. Yet we keep seeing publicity about transforming rail services and “It’s time for a new generation of Rail Travel” plus “tube like” timetables – well we are not getting that. Were getting less and slower trains.

Finally some good news for rail commuters

Crispin Blunt MP is delighted that the Rail Minister has responded to local rail users’ prolonged campaign for fairer fares, with a series of ticketing measures announced today.

Firstly, customers with (or purchasing before 1st January) Southern Only season tickets will have their ticket upgraded so they can use all Thameslink services (all services except Gatwick Express).

Secondly, regulated fares for customers travelling from Redhill, Reigate and other local stations* will be frozen. The average increase of 3.6% will not apply to these local stations, in recognition of the relatively higher prices rail users have been paying on this part of the network.

Thirdly, the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP, has initiated work that will look at options to rectify the injustice of higher fares at Redhill and local stations – known as the ‘Redhill Hump’ – with a view to implementing changes before the end of the life of the current Govia Thameslink franchise in 2021. This should also enable the new fare structure to take advantage of future ‘smart ticketing’ arrangements.

Fourthly, they are looking again at the May 2018 timetable to see if it can further improved for Redhill commuters, but all parties recognise the difficulty.

These undertakings were made at a meeting with the Rail Minister and his key officials on Wednesday. The Minister and his team acknowledged both the strength of the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ (RRDRUA) campaign and that they have a good case.

Crispin Blunt commented:

“After a prolonged campaign for fairer fares, I’m delighted that Redhill and Reigate rail users have been given a Christmas present in the form of this fares freeze and a Ministerial commitment to try to address the historic anomaly of higher fares for passengers using Redhill, Reigate and other local stations.

“Our campaign has been going since 2014 and I am grateful that we have a Rail Minister who is finally demanding regular updates on how the system can address the unfairness to local commuters.

“Paul Maynard has listened to the concerns that the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users’ Association and I have raised with him and has given this issue his personal attention. I want to thank him for his openness, responsiveness and commitment to rectifying the ‘Redhill Hump’. I am obviously very pleased that we have been given a fares freeze as a first step. It’s a nice note on which to go into the Christmas season and I would like to thank all the rail users who have given their active support to this campaign.”

Stephen Trigg, Chair of the RRDRUA commented:

“I’m delighted our hard work at RRDRUA (being assisted in Parliament by Crispin) is finally being recognised by the Department for Transport, and that the passengers along the Redhill Route are finally starting to get the treatment they deserve. Thank You Paul Maynard for taking the bull by the horns and getting us a small start along the route to fair fares and we look forward to helping the Department with further improvements in 2018.”

Notes:

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR)/Department for Transport (DfT) announcement:

My train has changed from a Southern service to a Thameslink service and I hold a “Southern only ticket”. Is my ticket still valid?

If your ticket says ‘Not Gatwick Express’ or ‘Any Permitted’ then you can continue to travel as usual. If you have a ‘Southern only’ ticket, this will be valid for travel up until 31st January 2018 on the new Thameslink trains. After this time, you will need to change your ticket for a ticket that says ‘Not Gatwick Express’ or ‘Any Permitted’. Please speak to the staff in the ticket office on how to do this. If you hold a season ticket with an expiry date after 31st January, please visit the station to change your ticket free of charge as soon as possible.

*GTR and the DfT have reviewed fares on the Brighton Main Line and we’re pleased to announce that this has resulted in a fares freeze for certain season ticket prices at the following stations:
•    Gatwick Airport
•    Horley
•    Earlswood
•    Salfords
•    Redhill
•    Reigate

This will result in a simplified fares structure for customers in line with timetable changes being made in relation to the Thameslink programme.

Response to GTR Phase 3 Consultation (May 2018 Weekend & Evenings)

Introduction

We would first like to take this opportunity to thank GTR for their time and effort in consulting upon this major timetable change. Although we feel it is still short of what we would like to see for our Rail Users, thanks to the consultative approach it is far better than the initial proposals to our rail users benefit and thus GTR’s consultative approach has been appreciated.

The Redhill line generates around 10,000 journeys a day and this is around 10% of the total journeys from the Brighton Main Line (which when you consider Gatwick and Brighton – two major centres – are on the route this is a very large portion of other journeys).

We believe there would be far more journeys if the service was improved because of the high level of car usage from the greater Redhill area into London every day due to three reasons: –

  • Slow and overcrowded trains from Redhill to London
  • Expensive and full parking facilities at Redhill Station
  • Relative proximity of Redhill area to London

RRDRUA represents Rail Users from the Redhill route including stations listed above and are very active with our membership of almost 2,000 daily commuters (around a fifth of total daily commuters)

The loss of fast services from Redhill to Victoria will be keenly felt and they will affect several thousand daily passengers. We are also concerned about capacity to Victoria having previously been 3 trains per hour in the high peak hour to just two now. This is the most difficult to accept in the general reduction of services at Redhill compared to the 2012 timetable (which is the last stable timetable to compare to). We still strongly feel that this half hourly all day fast service from Redhill to Victoria should be reinstated as a matter of urgency.

Phase 3 – Main Concerns and highlights

Key positives: –

  • Reinstatement of after midnight service from Victoria (00:08)
  • Sunday services to Reigate
  • Saturday service mirroring off-peak weekday is excellent

Our key concerns with the current proposals for weekends and overnight services are: –

  • Last trains from London to some parts of the Redhill Route
  • Uneven service on Sundays to some stations
  • Provision of Overnight Services to the Redhill route
  • Journeys to Brighton

The Key changes we would like to see: –

  • Services to Redhill route from Crossrail at Farringdon & Blackfriars continuing in the late evening at least 30 minute frequency seven days a week until at least 00:30 to match up with the new frequent all day service to these destinations
  • Last service from Victoria at 00:08 to call additionally at Earlswood and Salfords
  • Additional late night shuttle service to/from Reigate to connect off the 23:36 from Victoria at 00:20 and last Tonbridge service delayed to also connect with this train.
  • Merstham on Sundays – better balancing of timetable hopefully with third train calling to break up long gap
  • Overnight services at all stations on the Redhill route

Last Trains to Redhill Route from London

This best done on a station by station basis and then conclusions at the end. Obviously if our proposal for overnight services is accepted and implemented this section would change drastically but the thoughts below assume this is not the case.

Realistically we think last trains should be after 23:30 to allow time to get from entertainment events with 23:00 curfews (relatively common in London)

Redhill

Redhill is the core of the service along our route and what affects Redhill will also affect much else.

From London: –

  • Victoria
    • Sun Night to Thur Night 23:36 & 00:08
    • Fri/Sat Night 23:36, 00:08 then 01:08
  • London Bridge
    • Mon Night to Fri Night 23:30
    • Sat Night 23:30
    • Sunday 23:19 & 23:45
  • Blackfriars (Thameslink)
    • Mon Night to Fri Night 23:24
    • Sat Night 23:24, then 00:31 & 01:01 Add calls at Redhill
    • Sunday 23:35, then 00:32 & 01:02 Add calls at Redhill

We are pleased to see the reinstatement of last train from Victoria at 00:08. We would like to see two minor changes to the Victoria proposals.

  • 23:36 to run 3 minutes later at 23:39 to match the all day times to the Redhill route from Victoria (Reigate services leave at xx:09 & xx:39 all day – xx:36 is Arun Valley service time)
  • 00:08 to Gatwick to run 1 minute later throughout – also so the xx:09 is constant all day

Blackfriars is a very odd situation with late night services some nights but not others. There is likely to be a change in pattern for our rail users returning from some of London late night, especially when Crossrail opens connecting both the West End and Stratford/East London to Thameslink. This will move some passengers away from the Victoria services and onto Thameslink services.

As this is encouraged during the day we believe there should be regular services into the late evening for returning passengers. Thus, we would like to see regular trains up until after Midnight from Thameslink to the Redhill route to provide the continuity from the all-day services, especially with Farringdon becoming a major interchange. Up to the point of that train, direct services to Redhill should have not more than a half hour gap. The hour plus gap on Sat/Sun nights is too long.

Half hourly until the 00:31 would be ideal every night.

Reigate

Reigate has a much-improved service but has always suffered from lack of late night connection. We think this timetable is better but there are still some issues

From London: –

  • Victoria
    • Mon- Sat night 23:09
    • Sun night 21:05
  • Blackfriars/London Bridge – last connection
    • Mon- Sat night 22:59/23:05 Change ECR
    • Sun night 20:50/20:56 Change RDH

Monday to Saturday, these are all too early. We appreciate that it may not be possible to run direct services after these times but would ask whether the last Reigate train could operate a later shuttle to connect with the 23:36 from Victoria to Horsham at Redhill (although we’d prefer this to operate from Victoria at 23:39).

We also don’t have late night GWR services which could provide this late connection. Currently however their last train operates from Redhill at 23:34 which would be too early to provide such a connection. There are however several later trains from Reading stopping at Reigate.

Tonbridge Line

Last train on weekdays from Redhill is the 23:59 all stations which connects with 23:09 from Victoria and 23:14 from Blackfriars.

On Saturday oddly, this departs 4 minutes earlier at 23:55 and doesn’t call at all stations. We would like to see the same last service on a Saturday as the rest of the week.

On Sunday the last train is 23:07 which seems to early and we would like to see a similar 23:59 service.

For all of these services we would like to see them put back until 00:25 to connect off the 23:36 from Victoria making a much better connection from London events than the 23:55 does.

Merstham

Every day the last calling train is the 00:08 from Victoria – this seems appropriate and provides a suitable level of service from this station.

Earlswood/Salfords

The last calling train most nights is the 23:14 Blackfriars & 23:20 London Bridge service (22:05 from Bedford).

We think the 00:08 from Victoria could easily call at these stations as it terminates at Gatwick.

However, we appreciate that the train is operated by Southern and would be one of only a few Southern services calling here. If this is a problem, we have also asked for later half hourly services from Farringdon/Blackfriars to Redhill route and some of these could call at these stations.

Horley

Similar to Earlswood and Salfords although the 00:08 does call. Horley has had overnight trains for many years so we are not sure why the new proposal removes this. However, our overnight proposals would reinstate this service.

Sundays: Uneven Services to Some stations

Sundays seems to be a bit of a temporary measure to get through a period until services can be ramped up some more on Sundays.

The regular half hourly service between Bedford and Gatwick provides a good service to Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley. However, there is an hour gap between the 21:07 from Bedford leaving central London and the first of the services from London Bridge at 23:19.

There are three options to fil this void: –

  • A train from London Bridge at 22:45
  • An additional train at 21:37 from Bedford
  • The 21:28 from Cambridge to Three Bridges adding calls at Earlswood, Salfords and Horley

For Coulsdon South and Merstham there is an odd pattern during the day where the Thameslink Peterborough to Horsham and Southern’s Reigate to Victoria trains depart 10 minutes apart at these stations and then there is no train for 50 minutes.

This seems to happen because the alternate Cambridge train (to the Peterborough one) runs non-stop from Purley to Redhill. We think this needs to call at Merstham and Coulsdon South – however this will create a tight turn round time at Gatwick but something needs to be done to stop this very poor services at these two stations.

We are delighted to see Reigate get a Sunday service even if only hourly and hope in time this can be half-hourly like the rest of the week.

We are concerned by last train times both at Reigate and Tonbridge and have covered this above.

Train Services to Brighton

We are naturally disappointed to be losing our Direct service to Brighton on Sundays. However this has been offset weekdays by good connections at Gatwick.

This does not seem to be the case on Sundays but as we can’t see the GWR services this may be an error. Journey times to Brighton should not exceed 50 minutes and we hope this is the case.

Provision of Overnight Services

We have considered the overnight service from Bedford to Three Bridges and would like to see this call at Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley. This has been a long term aim of many rail users along the route and the May 2018 timetable change is a good time to implement this.

To achieve this would need an extra train and train crew be utilised on overnight services and would mean a slower journey from Central London to Gatwick Airport.

We believe the improvements for staff working and living locally at Gatwick Airport plus the improvements for many rail users locally wanting overnight services from London would more than justify this change in service pattern.

We understand that Network Rail will need access to the line for overnight maintenance and hence we have proposed that two nights per week a bus service regularly replaces the overnight trains between Purley and Horley to enable this maintenance to take place. This will provide passengers with certainty through the week.

We have set out a more detailed proposal below:

Proposal for overnight services between London and Gatwick to call at local stations

Stations along the Redhill route do not have any overnight service from London, but London is both an entertainment and employment centre for the residents of East Surrey. When working late nights in London it is often hard to get home and often last trains leave before events finish.

Gatwick Airport is a major employer in the Surrey region and staff often have to make their way to the airport for shifts that start at 4am or finish at 2am. It would be appropriate to have a service through the night between Redhill route and the Airport.

Currently there is a bus service (100) to part of the area from Gatwick but nothing at all from London to the Redhill Area.

There is proposed from May 2018 that there will be an overnight service from Bedford, through central London and East Croydon and then fast to Gatwick Airport running every 30 minutes.

Our proposal is that it simply stops at Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley on its way to/from Gatwick Airport. We estimate this will add 14 minutes each way to the journey time.

Benefits

Journeys made available between Redhill route stations and the airport will benefit both the employees at the airport who know they can always get a train to work and the customers of the airport can get there for early flights or return home by train on late flights.

The knowledge that there is a train every 30 minutes makes this a good choice for passengers when a train is delayed.

Journeys made from London to Redhill route stations will run through the night and will not only benefit residents of the area that there will be an all-night service when enjoying entertainment in London but also for London workers in the restaurant and entertainment industries as they can be sure of getting home after work.

Costs

The extra journey time on the proposed services will mean that an additional train set would be required to be used for overnight trains as the timings at Three Bridges change. Similarly, at least one extra driver and on-board manager would be required every night to cover these services.

It is unlikely to affect existing passengers to Gatwick, as at that time of night the service existing is more important than the speed of the service. A 15 minute extra journey time is unlikely to cause much inconvenience for airport passengers.

It would be expected that CDS/MHM/ERD/SAF & HOR would be unmanned at this time of night but there would anyway be minimal manning at Purley and Redhill all night.

As the railway is already there, signalman are operating it and the stock purchased, it is just the extra cost of running a single unit that makes this service possible.

Complication for Maintenance

Network Rail need to maintain the line between Purley and Earlswood through the Merstham tunnels and need clear working time to do this. So a compromise is needed to provide this time.

We expect they could do the maintenance with two nights of 4/5 hours clear every week with regular planned maintenance. It may also mean they can reduce weekend work on the line as well.

To do this we propose that the Purley to Redhill/Earlswood section is closed after the 23:09 Victoria to Reigate and 22:05 from Bedford (23:21 LBG) which both connect for last train to Tonbridge. This would be set to happen every Monday and Tuesday night to allow Network Rail regular access and can get the appropriate equipment into the area for two consecutive nights per week.

If the line is closed after this then the route will be available to Network Rail for just under 5 hours from midnight to 5am to close the line and work intensely (probably means around 3-4 hours actual work as setting up and clearing takes time). First train in the morning leaves Purley at 05:10 and Redhill at 4:49 although this could be part of the overnight buses. The gap is similar to that left by the Victoria closure so we would expect it would be good for Network Rail to do their work.

It would affect GWR services as well. Their current final service from Gatwick passes Redhill around the same time as the Reigate train. The last train from Reading may need truncating some nights depending on the work required at Redhill station itself each night but as GWR trains are diesel they don’t need power and thus some nights may be able to pass by without affecting the works.

To replace the trains, a bus service will need to run from Purley. The timings of the bus should leave Purley every 30 minutes to connect with the trains. Each train should get initially a single bus calling all stations to Gatwick and return. We estimate it would take two hours to cycle the buses and thus with a driver’s break probably needs 5 buses to run.

Even though the trains can still call at Horley, it is better that the passengers are taken straight to Gatwick to avoid the difficulties of timing the bus to a train – the two services (train and bus) can work independently at the Gatwick end.

When Network Rail have access GTR would be able to run the service with one less unit of stock.