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GTR announces 400 new daily train services in UK’s biggest-ever timetable change

Press release   •   May 16, 2018 06:00 BST

Changes are being publicised widely through posters, adverts and leaflets

Embargoed to 6am Wednesday 16 May

Govia Thameslink Railway today announced a significant boost to services as part of its RailPlan 20/20 programme with almost 400 or 13% more trains running every day when its new timetable is introduced next week.

GTR, Britain’s biggest rail operator, will start to run around 3,600 trains – one every 24 seconds – across its network in a step forward for its programme to boost capacity across the region.

Passengers are today urged to check before they travel ahead the shake-up, with the time of every train changing on Sunday 20 May.

Departures and arrivals will be re-set across the entire GTR network of Southern Railway, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern, which together account for almost a quarter of all UK rail journeys.

Many passengers can expect their trains to start and terminate at different stations, for example many King’s Cross services will instead call at the adjacent St Pancras International.

Passengers will see huge benefits as a result of the changes with space into London for an extra 50,000 passengers in the morning peak.

Due to the expansion, 80 more stations will have direct services to central London stations such as Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars by next year.

Rail passengers will benefit from enhanced frequency, reliability and connectivity across the network, with significant uplift at key commuter stations such as Brighton, Bedford, Luton and East Croydon.

Some disruption to services is expected during a major re-deployment of trains and crews over the coming weeks.

Charles Horton, GTR Chief Executive, said: “We are introducing the biggest ever change to a rail timetables to significantly boost capacity on the UK’s most congested network. We don’t want passengers to get caught out and so we strongly advise them to look up the times of their trains as they will find that from 20 May each and every one of them has changed.

“Due to the sheer scale of the changes, we will have to redeploy a large number of trains and crews and services may not run at normal times during the introductory phase, although the impact on peak time services during the transition will be minimal.”

“Introduction of the new timetables is a major milestone in the delivery of RailPlan 20/20, our programme to modernise rail services, taking advantage of the new infrastructure and trains provided by the Government’s £7bn Thameslink Programme.”

As part of the decade-long upgrade project, London Bridge has undergone a £1bn rebuild and, in Britain’s biggest fleet order, some 115 new self-drive Siemens trains are being introduced.

Passengers have been asked for their input to the new timetable with 28,000 responses received over 18 months in the biggest consultation of its kind.


Editor’s notes

Passengers should check their train times at

More information is available at

Thameslink – detailed improvements (year on year comparisons, morning peak)

  • A massively expanded network with, by the end of 2019, cross-London Thameslink trains calling at 80 more stations
  • Anyone travelling between East Croydon and London Blackfriars (via London Bridge) will see a significant uplift in services – 3 times the number of services to Blackfriars in the morning rush (from 9 today to 29 from 20 May, rising to 33 in December)
  • A significant increase in frequency and length of trains between Bedford and St Pancras: Bedford 32% more carriages, 3,000 more seats (33% more), two express services an hour; Flitwick 1,500 more seats (21% more); Luton 27% more carriages, 3,200 more seats (25% more); St Albans 32% more carriages, 4,200 more seats (25% more)
  • Thameslink services diverted via Crystal Palace start to call again at London Bridge (saving up to 15 minutes on journeys south of Blackfriars)
  • New half-hourly cross-London service from Horsham via Redhill to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, City Thameslink, St Pancras International and beyond to Stevenage and Peterborough
  • New half-hourly cross-London service from Gatwick Airport via Redhill to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, City Thameslink, St Pancras International and beyond to St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton and Bedford
  • Littlehampton via Hove to London Bridge peak services transfer to Thameslink, with a new timetable and cross-London travel opportunities to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, City Thameslink, St Pancras International and beyond to St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton and Bedford
  • New half-hourly peak-time cross-London service from East Grinstead via Oxted to London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon, City Thameslink, St Pancras International and beyond to St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton and Bedford
  • At Brighton – 8 trains to London Bridge in the morning peak rising to 11 in December compared with 3 today
  • New Thameslink services for Greenwich, Dartford and the Medway towns between Luton and Rainham (north Kent)
  • Radlett, Elstree & Borehamwood and Mill Hill Broadway will benefit from improved off peak services – up to 6 per hour
  • Catford Loop in south London – doubling of off-peak services to London, bringing extra capacity to Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Crofton Park, Catford, Bellingham, Beckenham Hill and Ravensbourne

Great Northern – detailed improvements (year on year comparisons, morning peak)

  • Direct Thameslink services from Cambridge and local Great Northern stations to Brighton via London Bridge and Gatwick Airport will offer new destinations and travel opportunities
  • In May 2018, from Cambridge, over 50% more seats (2,700 extra) compared to May 2017 on extra services and longer trains in the morning peak to London. This December, still more services will be added, taking the increase to almost double the number of carriages and double the number of standard class seats than ran in May 2017 – 4,600 more vs 5,000 before with over 2,000 more additional fast service seats
  • Direct Thameslink services from Peterborough to Horsham via London Bridge and Gatwick Airport
  • The Peterborough route gains all its improvements immediately, this May, almost a third more carriages from Peterborough, Huntingdon and St Neots with over 1,200 more seats (over 20% more) (base: all services).
  • Increased frequency and capacity of trains from Welwyn Garden City.
  • Hadley Wood will enjoy increased off-peak frequency into London after extensive consultation with passenger groups
  • Increased off peak services on the Hertford Loop (4 trains per hour up from 3 trains per hour and doubling on Saturdays from 2 trains per hour to 4 trains per hour)
  • Increased off peak services between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City (4 trains per hour up from 3 trains per hour and doubling on Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Improved frequency for Watton at Stone (increased to half hourly)
  • Trains between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn will now serve Cambridge North
  • Improved evening services between London and Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock
  • Changes to calling patterns for Royston and Letchworth to better match demand
  • Royston: in May 2018 a quarter more carriages and 20% more seats (over 1,300 more) and, in December 2018, over a third more carriages and a third more seats – over 2,300 more (base: all services).
  • Foxton, Meldreth and Shepreth: Northbound platforms have been lengthened for eight-carriage trains and from May the stations will get eight-carriage new Thameslink trains, unlike the mostly 4-carriage trains they receive today. To London, passengers at these stations will have a third more carriages and a quarter more seats, from May 2018 (base: all services).
  • Biggleswade: three-quarters more carriages and over 60% more seats (over 2,500 more) (base: all services).
  • Hitchin: a third more carriages and a quarter more seats in May and, in December, over 50% more carriages and almost 50% more seats (almost 4,000 more) (base: all services).
  • Stevenage: In May 2018, 15% more carriages and 6% more seats and, in December, a third more carriages and almost a quarter more seats (over 2,400 more) (base: all services).
  • Sandy: In May 2018, 50% more carriages and 35% more seats (1,000 more) (base: all services).
  • Arlesey: In May 2018, 50% more carriages and 35% more seats (1,000 more) (base: all services).
  • Ashwell & Morden: 93% more carriages and 70% more seats (over 2,400 more) (base: all services).
  • Baldock: In May 2018, twice the number of carriages and over 75% more seats (2,500 more) and, in December 2018, over 165% more carriages and 150% more seats (over 5,000 more) (base: all services).
  • Letchworth: In May 2018 14% more carriages and almost 10% more seats and, in December 2018, over 25% more carriages and over 20% more seats (1,500 more) (base: all services).

Southern – detailed improvements

  • Over 50% longer trains (from 5 carriages to 8) throughout the day on the West London Line between East Croydon and more frequent services to and from Watford Junction in the morning and evening peaks to provide much-needed additional capacity (many people at stations from Norbury and Streatham Common change onto these services at Clapham Junction)
  • A new South London Metro network featuring longer trains in the off-peak with better, faster services for most of the day:
    • Improved all-day services between Epsom and London Bridge
    • Improved peak trains between Mole Valley (Dorking) and London Bridge with four trains in the morning and evening peak (currently one morning peak train)
    • Doubling of the off-peak frequency and a new Sunday services between Sutton, Belmont, Banstead and Epsom Downs
    • Direct trains between Peckham Rye, Tulse Hill, Streatham and East Croydon, Purley and Caterham
    • Improved peak service between Tulse Hill, Peckham Rye and London Bridge – 6 trains per hour introduced
    • Improved off peak service for Reedham and Coulsdon Town
    • Faster all-day services between Caterham, Tattenham Corner and London Bridge with all trains formed of 10 carriage trains
    • Improved evening services on many routes
  • Significant improvements are being made to our East Coastway route:
  • Improved morning peak mainline services from Eastbourne to London Victoria with three additional peak arrivals at 0705, 0735 and 0754 filling an existing two-hour gap.
  • The first train to London Victoria from Eastbourne will depart 20 minutes earlier providing an earlier arrival into Gatwick Airport.
  • An improved half hourly evening peak train will be introduced between London Victoria and Eastbourne with an additional train at 1815 reducing two 45-minute gaps
  • Increased frequency (6 trains per hour instead of 5 trains per hour) between Brighton and Lewes with increased stops at Falmer and Moulsecoomb
  • Increased frequency (4 trains per hour instead of 3 trains per hour) between Eastbourne and Hastings
  • Improved all-day service every 30 minutes and faster journeys for some trains between Brighton and Hastings
  • We are doubling the length of most trains along the most popular sections of our east coast route, between Brighton and Hastings (especially busy in the summer). We’re also increasing the frequency of services by a third between Eastbourne and Hastings. Trains will also connect better with the high-speed services at Ashford International, saving passengers time, for example a 99-minute journey time from Bexhill to St Pancras changing at Ashford International.
  • New late evening train one hour later than current, from Ashford International to Hastings via Rye
  • New later weekday, later evening and Sunday services for Normans Bay
  • On the West Coastway route (from Littlehampton via Worthing and Hove), new Thameslink cross-London services and additional peak trains will be introduced:
    • In the morning peak, two additional trains from Littlehampton to London Victoria arriving London Victoria at 0735 and 0808 will be introduced filling an existing 90 minute gap
    • Thameslink trains to London Bridge (two in May 2018 rising to three in December 2018) extended to London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras International and beyond to St Albans, Luton and Bedford.
    • From May 2018, 12 more carriages and 669 more seats to London in the morning peak via Worthing and Hove. From December 2018, 12 more carriages added with a further 638 seats. From December 2018, this will provide a combined total of 24 additional carriages and an additional 1,307 seats.
  • New early morning direct train from London Victoria to Southampton Central arriving before 0900 (currently 1000)
  • Earlier direct morning train from Brighton to Portsmouth arriving before 0630 (currently 0715)
  • Most trains will no longer serve Eastleigh or Southampton Airport Parkway; instead calling at Swanwick providing an hourly service to and Brighton for most of the day
  • Improved weekday and Saturday evening service throughout the route:
    • daytime frequency continuing until 2200 with additional trains between Brighton and West Worthing & Littlehampton and Portsmouth & Southsea and others amended.
    • direct hourly services until 2100 (currently 1700) from Portsmouth to Horsham, Gatwick Airport and London Victoria.
    • additional direct evening service from London Victoria to Chichester departing at 2206 filling an existing 60 minute gap.
  • Improved service for Portslade with introduction of half hourly direct weekday off peak and Saturday trains to and from London.
  • New direct all-day Sunday trains for Portslade and Lancing with the introduction for hourly trains to and from London Victoria for the first time.
  • Sunday services between London and Portsmouth will now serve Horsham matching weekday and Saturday routing.
  • Improved connections at Hove from Brighton for trains to and from Littlehampton on Sundays.
  • On the Arun Valley line via Horsham (morning peak):
    • One additional fast train starting from Horsham to London Victoria arriving 0740
    • Two (increased from one) fast morning peak trains to London Bridge including an earlier arrival at 0743 in addition to existing 0843 arrival.
    • More evenly spaced arrivals at London Victoria including an earlier arrival at 0712 (currently first train arrives 0752 from Bognor Regis)
    • From May 2018, 24 more carriages and 1,338 more seats will be added to fast London trains in the morning peak
  • Trains between East Grinstead and London Bridge will extend beyond London Bridge to and from London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St Pancras International. Many of these trains will continue to St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton and Bedford providing greater connectivity. An additional peak service will be introduced in each direction, arriving Central London (London Bridge) at 0941 and departing at 1611. Trains will be now be operated by operated by new Thameslink 12-carriage trains replacing those currently provided by Southern.
  • An earlier first and later last train from East Grinstead to London Victoria will be introduced on weekdays and Saturdays and on Sundays the half hourly frequency will be extended for more of the day.
  • An additional evening peak train will be introduced from London Bridge to Uckfield on weekdays and earlier Sunday morning trains will be introduced on the Uckfield route
  • Reigate will see an improved peak and all-day train service – a half hourly train service will be introduced featuring direct evening services and new Sunday service for the first time.
  • A new all-day train service will be introduced from Merstham, Coulsdon South and Purley to London Victoria

Timetable development

The timetable has been developed from a ‘blank sheet of paper’, analysing issues and conflicts.

  • With passenger numbers doubling in 16 years (in just 12 years on much of Southern), the allocated stop times at many stations are simply too short to reasonably account for those getting off and on - so at 75 stations trains will stop for longer
  • Many services currently have very short turnaround times at destination stations, so the slightest delay on the route means they don’t start their return journey on time and the delay multiplies – the new timetable has increased turnaround times to help
  • The new timetable removes the vast majority of splitting and attaching of trains now required at terminus stations such as London Bridge and London Victoria. Many trains will be kept in fixed formation instead. This means services won’t have to wait for other sections of train to arrive and couple up and will travel at their full length throughout the day.
  • Trains and train crew currently travel on different lines during the day which means that, if there are delays, this can mushroom and affect more than one line. The new timetable endeavours to keep trains and crew on dedicated routes throughout the day.

Transition period

On most routes, the new timetable will operate in its entirety from Sunday 20 May. However, on some, a limited number of individual existing services will not run at the beginning – one or two in each weekday peak and some in the off-peak. This will steadily reduce in number as trains are moved into place. The full service will run across all routes from 11 June.

The routes where services are reduced are:

  • Peterborough - London: 2 trains in each peak (1 for 2 weeks, 1 for a single week)
  • Luton - London: 1 train in the morning peak (for 1 week), 2 trains in the evening peak (1 for 1 week and one for 3 weeks)
  • Rainham - London: 1 train in the morning peak (for 2 weeks); 1 train in the evening peak (for 3 weeks)
  • Orpington - London: There are no trains affected in the peak, only off-peak
  • Horsham - London: There are no trains affected in the peak, only off-peak

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria,,,