Southern's new timetable

From May 20, entirely new timetables will be applied across the whole of the Govia Thameslink network – so Great Northern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and, in particular for us, Southern Railways. This means that all passengers who use these services will be affected as their usual journey time or pattern will change. So it is important that you check the new timetables at
Southern started its public consultation process in September 2016 and says this is part of the biggest train timetable change in decades, which is necessary to help increase capacity and improve reliability on the busiest part of the UK rail network. Both of these objectives are relevant to the needs of MarshLink services.
To have a robust timetable it is necessary to have reliable rolling stock: as we have lamented over recent years, the MarshLink is wholly dependent on Class 171 diesel units which are not old but are going through a period of increasingly poor performance resulting in capacity and reliability issues.
The Ashford to Brighton route has been cut at Eastbourne with several objectives: one reason is to release a unit to act as additional support in the event of a unit failure and avoid the need to cancel the shuttle which runs between Ashford and Rye. There would however inevitably be some disruption during the changeover hiatus. Talks continue on where to locate the “spare” unit – MLAG (MarshLink Action Group) wants to see it located on the coast for immediate deployment (when not at Selhurst, its maintenance home, undergoing its scheduled maintenance).
MLAG is very conscious that early-morning commuters to London via Ashford onto the Javelin service have issues with the timetable changes – they emphasise the timing of the current service is good for them. This is, understandably, the case with a Rye to St Pancras travel time of about 64 mins. But to provide better services across the rest of the day (when the standard travel time is currently 85 mins, reducing to 67 mins with the new timetable), Southern has had to make changes to some of the early-morning services. The specific problem for early morning commuters is that, although the timings of the first two train services are unchanged, the immediately following two services have issues surrounding them. The first of those two services requires them to feed into a Javelin service that is currently only six cars, usually with standing room only when it arrives at Ashford: alternatively, the next service from Rye is a shuttle service and therefore with added concern it won’t run in the event of a unit failure.
In previous press releases during the consultation phases, MLAG has endeavoured to explain some of the other changes being made and we will return to those explanations as we approach May 20.

Photo: Rye News library

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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  1. To clarify the May timetable change it is 3 morning peaking services that are affected and all evening peak services.
    Lot’s of current Rye and Hastings commuters are having to look at alternative options such as driving to Ashford or using Hastings line which now works out quicker to get to London before 0800 than using HS1 line.
    It is shame that such good commuter service has been wrecked by people playing politics with railway and not realising what damage their actions would do to people just trying to get to and from work.

  2. Some of us commute to central London, the diversion to Camden on a javelin adds 30mins to my journey. The article misses the point that connection with Charing Cross trains have also been completely trashed. This also needs looking at. Trains from Hastings/Rye really should be timed for Ashford trains as that is where most people go, trains in the opposite direction to peak flows Transport air.
    I get the point about off peak travel and have grumbled about it myself but the correct time to make an adjustment is after the 0823 (from Appledore) service as that is when the customer profile changes.

  3. When will redualling Ashford to Hastings become a reality plenty of money for HS proposed lines we seem to be the Cinderella line.

  4. One of the biggest problems will be connecting to 6 car trains at Ashford. We had been told that South Eastern were planning to run those as 12 cars from May. This is obviously not the case. I for one, don’t want to spend over £7000 a year on my commute either to stand all the way to St Pancras or have trains cancelled.
    Just who was consulted? Not the people I travel with!

    • The people ‘consulted’ were the MLAG who seemingly have no active members who actually commute at real times.
      An open question to MLAG: how many of your committee who were in any way involved in lobbying for these changes actually commute to London 5 days a week for a full time job?

  5. Had this respond from SE Railways about making all HS1 peak marshlink connections 12 car. Also no mention of making any of evening HS1 service’s 12 car either. it going to a nightmare come May.
    Thanks for your email Paul
    We’ve been able to lengthen two morning peak departures from Ashford to 12-cars – the 07:44 and the 08:16 – but I’m afraid that the 07:16 service will continue to be a 6-car train.
    As you’ll know, we only have limited rolling stock available that can run on our high speed services, and we’re very aware of how popular they’ve become with passengers. That’s why we’re trying innovative ways to boost capacity on the busiest services using all of the rolling stock we have available.
    The reason we’ve been able to lengthen the two other services, is by stopping two “contra peak” services heading back from St Pancras at Ashford, joining them to 6-car London-bound trains, and sending the new 12-car service back toward St Pancras again. Unfortunately, 07:16 is just too early for us to get a passenger service to St Pancras, turn it around, and get it back to Ashford in time to extend the earlier train.

  6. The problem is down to the single line section between Appledore and Ore, and the need to pass trains at Rye.
    Essentially you cannot change one train in isolation, you would have to change them all.
    The only other alternative is to change the early trains and have a big gap later in the morning on the ‘down’ service back to Hastings/Eastbourne which would affect other travelers even more.
    What the new timetable does is provide a standard hour connection to and from the Javelin from early morning until late at night which has to be a good thing. Totally agree though about the need for extra carriages on those Javelin services, and the need for the Rye Shuttle to be reliable.


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