The new rail timetable, being introduced as part of the Thameslink upgrade project, has come into force.
The big change for Reigate is the loss of direct London Bridge services, but the adding of more London Victoria trains.
For Victoria passengers, the new half-hourly direct service will run throughout the day, Monday – Saturday, taking 46 – 48 minutes.
But the loss of the direct London Bridge link will hit many commuters – with a need to change trains at East Croydon or Redhill.
However, London Bridge journey times may not be as bad as feared: in the morning peak, the 0720 will take just 40 minutes (arriving London Bridge 0900, changing at Redhill), while the 0736 will take 47 minutes (arriving 0823, changing at East Croydon). There is, however, then a gap until the 0804 (arriving 0900, changing Redhill).
For early morning services, there had been concerns about two GWR trains which served as useful shuttles to Redhill: however, these are now back in the timetable, but slightly retimed.
From past experiences, local rail users may doubt the ability of Govia Thameslink to deliver the new timetable reliably – and in any event some services are being progressively introduced over the next few weeks.
The National Rail Enquiries website can be checked before travelling, and the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ Association (RRDRUA) have put together information for local stations on their website.
RRDRUA’s Facebook group will also no doubt prove an invaluable resource if there are any teething troubles.
The new timetable marks the final stages of the Thameslink upgrade project, with cross-London services (Horsham to Peterborough, Cambridge to Brighton) now forming the bedrock of local mainline services.
The benefits of the project – and the pain it has caused over the last few years – have been much discussed.
The loss of Reigate’s direct London Bridge link is one consequence – the fixed-formation Thameslink trains are too long for Reigate’s existing layout meaning they can’t use the station: Network Rail would like the funding to build a new Platform 3 that could accommodate them.
Other talking points over the next few weeks may include the new Thameslink trains themselves – they can hold more people, but with more of them standing and less of them sitting.
All our previous rail articles are here.