New plans for the Thameslink franchise will leave commuters in the south of the borough out in the cold


By - Friday 19th December, 2014

East Surrey Transport Committee chair Charles King speaks up for his home town of Coulsdon as new service patterns are drawn up at Govia Thameslink HQ


A Southern service at Coulsdon South. Photo author’s own.

In August this year, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the winner of the Thameslink Great Northern Franchise – the largest in Britain – would be Govia Thameslink Railway, the parent company of Southern. They took over First Capital Connect Thameslink services in September, and will take over the existing Southern and Gatwick Express services from September 2015. The ‘Southern’ branding will remain.

Their new Chief Executive Charles Horton has said “Govia are committed to listening to passengers and delivering better services. This included new services, new rolling stock, more seats and faster journey times.”

So why are the rail passengers of Coulsdon getting upset? The problem was in the unpublished detail of the proposed 2015 timetable for the Brighton line. Although this has many new and good things it seems that the one area that ends up with a worse service is Coulsdon.

At Coulsdon South, Govia intend to divert the existing Reigate and Tonbridge trains to Victoria – and no longer stop them at Coulsdon South. They will replace them with a Gatwick to Blackfriars and Bedford via Tulse Hill service. This means the present four trains per hour to London Bridge will become two trains to London Bridge and two trains to Blackfriars – the latter of which will take twelve minutes longer to reach a Zone 1 tube station. Passengers using this service will have to change at East Croydon for both Victoria and London Bridge, adding a further delay to that twelve minutes. Govia claim this is not a problem, as there will still be 4 trains per hour in the off-peak – this ignores the argument about journey times, and the new need to change.

On the Tattenham Corner line, the off-peak shuttle service between Tattenham Corner and Purley serving Coulsdon Town and Woodmansterne will be withdrawn. This will reduce the off-peak service from three trains per hour to two. Here, Govia argue that not many people use the shuttle service, and the DfT no longer require them to run it.

At the Coulsdon stations, there is a reduction from seven trains per hour to six, and two of the remaining trains will take 50% longer to reach a zone 1 London station. Southbound passengers will lose the direct link to Tonbridge and Reigate which is very important for local students attending Reigate College. We definitely see this as a worse service than what we have now.

So what are the East Surrey Transport Committee doing about this situation?  We have written to both Govia and DfT to make our protest, and we will be encouraging local rail users to respond to the Govia consultation by writing to:

Dyan Crowther
GTR Dec 2015 Consultation
FREEPOST LON15973
Croydon
CR0 1ZY

You can also take part by email by contacting  , and we recommend copying in our local MP  and our GLA Member .

To support our campaign, we have conducted an off-peak survey of over 1,000 passenger destinations at Coulsdon South. This showed that 53% of passengers want to go to Clapham Junction and Victoria, 41% want to go to London Bridge, while less than 4% want destinations between Blackfriars and St Pancras. For southbound passengers, at 35% Reigate is the most popular destination, followed by Gatwick Airport at 28.5%. The new proposals by Govia do not match the requirements of Coulsdon’s railway users. If you are one of them, please help us prevent these changes by having your say.

Charles King

Charles King

Charles is a long-time resident of Coulsdon, and chair of the East Surrey Transport Committee. Passionate about railways and his local area, he has held a number of positions in community and residents' organisations. He is a member of the Labour Party, and a former chair of its Croydon South constituency party.

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  • Tom W

    The email link you provide in the article is not accepting mail. Could you update the article with the correct address? Thank you.

    • The Croydon Citizen

      Hi Tom, it’s been fixed now – or should have been. Let us know if it still doesn’t work. It’s

  • Minstral

    This is a distortion of the truth in respect of Coulsdon South.

    The proposal is that the Arun Valley line trains will no longer stop at Redhill. They have always gone non-stop from Redhill to East Croydon and then Victoria. The diversion of the Tonbridge and Reigate trains is to compensate the Redhill passengers for the loss of this very important service.

    Coulsdon South will still have four trains per hour to London which it has for several years. These trains have always gone to London Bridge and they will again in 2018. All four trains will head south to Gatwick Airport for both flight connections and services to the South Coast.

    At no time have the Reigate or Tonbridge trains calling at Coulsdon South off peak gone to Victoria. Connection to both Tonbridge and Reigate will be a same platform connection of a few minutes (5 or less) at Redhill in both directions

    Temporarily though because of the works at London Bridge two of the four per hour will be diverted to Blackfriars, St Pancras and onwards to Bedford, providing new connections and journey opportunities. Many passengers consulted want this change and naturally those who do not are opposing the change.

    In 2018 it is already agreed all four trains will go through London Bridge, Blackfriars, Farringdon and St Pancras. Two per hour will continue to Bedford and two to Peterborough.

    Please ensure the accuracy of this article is corrected.