Southern Rail says it will not change reduced Covid timetable until May - despite restrictions ending

Most services are still running on a reduced service despite changes to the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

Southern Rail has said it will not be making changes to its reduced Covid timetable until May at the earliest - despite all government restrictions ending on February 24.

Trains through Peckham and Dulwich from London Bridge sometimes only run once every 30 minutes, while the London Bridge to London Victoria route is largely not running at all.

Southern Rail has announced that it will continue to run a reduced Covid timetable - despite all restrictions being eased in February (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Commuters have been forced to make changes to their journeys, with some residents saying the reduction in trains has added more than half an hour to their journeys.

Sydenham resident Melanie Worthington, 43, previously said she had taken to cycling to her office in central London because of the lack of trains.

The civil servant said: “I could understand them reducing the frequency but to withdraw the service completely seems a massive overreaction if it’s just staff absences.

“Since the trains stopped I’ve been cycling into work. It’s a bit of an extreme.”

A spokesperson from Southern Rail claimed that despite restrictions being lifted, the pandemic has continued to affect passenger numbers and how the service operates.

They said Southern has been unable to provide new or refresher in-cab training due to social distancing restrictions, which has caused a significant backlog on driver training.

The spokesperson claimed the company is monitoring demand carefully and increasing services where it is most needed.

And they said that the reduced timetable actually made Southern’s services more reliable.

In February, Southern increased peak-time services into London by 12%, but is not planning another uplift until May.

London Victoria Station is just one of the many stations affected by the Southern Rail reduced timetable (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) owns Southern Rail alongside Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express services.

GTR’s interim chief operating officer, Angie Doll, said “While the picture is improving, the legacy of Covid continues to impact our business and we need to assess how travel demand and patterns stabilise in the coming months.

“As we monitor how passengers are returning, we’ll continue to add and adjust services, taking a prudent approach to ensure we can offer the reliability our passengers want and prioritising our services in the most efficient way.

“We’re planning another uplift with our next timetable change in May, and Gatwick Express services will return soon to support the airport’s reopening of the South Terminal.”

The network also told LondonWorld that the Gatwick Express services are also set to return to support the reopening of the airport’s South Terminal.

Cllr Catherine Rose, Southwark Labour’s spokesperson for transport, said: “Southern Rail has consistently let rail users in Southwark down by hiking up prices whilst continuing to reduce services.

“Many residents want to make the right choices with public transport and Southwark Labour is taking action by installing cycle storage at stations and creating safe routes for walking and cycling. However, franchises such as Southern have failed drastically to restore services which make a determinable impact.

“Southwark Labour is calling for the government to end this failing franchise and bring it back into public ownership it has done with LNER, Northern and South Eastern.

“Anyone serious about tackling the climate crisis needs to provide viable alternatives to cars on our streets, and only the Labour Party has a plan to achieve this.”

Southern Rail has stopped services from many areas claiming staff shortages and inability to train drivers (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Commuters in Lewisham’s suburbs are still without direct weekday connections to London Bridge and London Victoria after two years.

Southern Rail have stopped services from London Bridge to London Victoria via stations including Sydenham, Forest Hill and Crystal Palace.

The network has also stopped its service from East Croydon to London Bridge via Forest Hill which stops at Sydenham.

South Western Railway has also announced that cuts of up to 14% are planned on their services from December 2022.

What services have been affected by the continued reduced timetable?

West London Line

Peak hour services will run to and from Milton Keynes as following:

  • 5.27am Balham to Milton Keynes Central
  • 7.01am Milton Keynes Central to Clapham Junction
  • 5.16pm Selhurst to Milton Keynes Central
  • 7.16pm Milton Keynes Central to Selhurst

Southern Rail has asked commuters to use London Overground services, or Southern/Tube/London Northwestern services at other times to complete their journey.

The network has also suggested using the Thameslink services to/from St Pancras International, which is a 20-minute walk from Euston station.

Beckenham Junction to London Bridge via Crystal Palace

Services will be running between Beckenham Junction and London Bridge every 90 minutes during the day.

Additional services will run on the line during school times to provide improved connections to the Dulwich area.

Commuters at stations such as West Norwood that are wishing to travel to or from London Bridge are being advised to use the “via Norwood Junction” option on the National Rail journey planner to find additional journey options.

London Bridge to London Victoria via Crystal Palace

Most services on the London Bridge to London Victoria via Crystal Palace route will not run.

Southern Rail will operate two morning peak services at 7.50am and 8.20am and will also run some late evening services.

Epsom to London Bridge via Carshalton Beeches

A fast service will run between Epsom and London Bridge every half-hour with a reduced frequency early in the morning.

Trains from Epsom to London Bridge will depart at 5.45am, 7.16am and 8.15am before running every 30 minutes until 10.45pm.

London Bridge to East Croydon

The London Bridge to East Croydon service that runs via New Cross Gate, Brockely, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Penge West and Norwood Junction will run every 30 minutes.

Uckfield to London Bridge

An hourly service from Uckfield will be increased to half-hourly trains between 6.33am and 7.33am to support peak travel and school travel on the route.

This service will be hourly at busy times and will be reduced to every-two hours when trains are quieter.

Uckfield to London Bridge trains will run at the following times - 5.31am, 6.33am, 7.03am, 7.33am, 8.33am, 9.33am, 10.33am, 12.33pm, 2.33pm, 4.33pm, 5.33pm and then hourly until 10.33pm.

The London Bridge to Uckfield service will run at - 6.07am, 7.07am, 8.07am, 9.07am, 11.07am, 1.07pm, 3.07pm and then hourly until 9.07pm, 11.07pm.

Sutton to London Victoria via West Croydon

This service can see up to four trains running per hour between Sutton and London Victoria at busy times and will run two trains per hour at quieter times.

Southern Rail has said that fewer trains will be running where there is less demand to the service such as away from London Victoria in the morning rush hour or towards London Victoria in the afternoon.