MP calls for reversal of rail timetable changes in Hassocks

MP Nick Herbert. Picture: Derek Martin
MP Nick Herbert. Picture: Derek Martin

MP Nick Herbert is calling for rail timetable changes in Hassocks to be reversed.

The Arundel and South Downs MP has asked Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and the Government to look again at the train timetable changes and reinstate peak time services from the village.

He said: “Many people have chosen to live in  Hassocks precisely because of the available train services and destinations, but the proposed changes are disruptive for them.”

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) who operates Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express routes on the network has completed a three-phase consultation on timetable changes.

The consultation was the biggest in UK rail history, with more than 28,000 respondents.

The new timetable will be brought into force on Sunday, May 20.

GTR has decribed it as a ‘once in a generation opportunity to create a more reliable service and extra capacity in the morning peak for 40,000 more passengers from across our network into London, with further expansion to 60,000 by the end of 2019’.

It also said it will mean that every train time, at every station, across the network is ‘changing’.

The Hassocks Amenity Association Rail Group proposed an amendment to the timetable, requesting that at least one of the two Gatwick Express trains each hour should stop at Clapham Junction, which would ‘alleviate the frustration felt by commuters if the direct peak-time service is removed altogether’.

GTR said its directive was to ‘ensure Gatwick Express trains run non-stop from Gatwick to London Victoria’.

Mr Herbert raised the issue in the House of Commons last month but was told no changes could be made.

He has now written to Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, to press his concerns. He has also written to rail minister Jo Johnson.

He points out in his letter that over the past 12 years passenger numbers on the southern network have doubled and added: “Surely this is an opportunity to re-examine the rigid arrangements of the Gatwick Express being a non-stop premium service from Gatwick to London Victoria?”

He also said the rapid growth of Hassocks through new housing will increase the size of the village by ‘nearly a third’ and that public services ‘were not being expanded to match and were instead contracting’, which is ‘intolerable’.