The new timetable will radically change Croydon’s rail services

By - Wednesday 11th April, 2018

The new timetable will affect virtually all stations in Croydon in dramatic ways, if it can be delivered

Photo by Zach Baker for the Croydon Citizen.

Last month, the CEO of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTW) Charles Horton stated in the Metro that the new GTR timetable starting on 20th May 2018 will benefit passengers by providing greater capacity, more trains and new destinations, making capacity “capable of carrying the entire population of Bristol every week”.

My view is that, in short, Charles Horton is right. There will be more and longer trains all day including direct services from East Croydon to Finsbury Park, Stevenage, Peterborough, and Cambridge. There will be an increase in off-peak services to London Bridge, Blackfriars, St Pancras and Farringdon which will have a direct connection with the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail) from December 2018. The increase in rush hour frequency will start earlier and the late evening service from central London will be increased. Again, there will be further increases in December 2018 and in May 2019 when additional services to Kent will start, giving more connections at London Bridge to other destinations.

These changes have been no mean achievement by a dedicated team of train planners who have had to redesign the new Thameslink/Southern and Great Northern timetable around the needs of other train services on the east coast and midland main lines, as well as Southeastern and London Overground services, taking into consideration different types and speeds of rolling stock, new crew and rolling stock depots.

Norwood Junction gains an all-day-long Thameslink service to Bedford via Blackfriars and St Pancras

So what are the improvements in the Croydon and Sutton areas?

East Croydon will see the biggest improvements, with two new services of two trains per hour to Peterborough and one to Cambridge all day. Both services will provide direct services to Finsbury Park and Stevenage. In the other direction, the Reigate service will increase to two trains per hour, and the service to Brighton increases to five trains per hour. New metro services will run to Streatham and Peckham Rye. Two late night services after midnight from Victoria, the 12:08am to Gatwick and the 12:16am to East Croydon, will be restored from Sunday to Thursday. On Friday and Saturday additional later trains from Victoria will run.

All-night services will run on Sunday to Thursday. Services to East Croydon and Gatwick Airport will run to and from Blackfriars. On Fridays, they will run to and from both Blackfriars and Victoria, and on Saturdays to and from Victoria only.

However, many other stations also have altered and improved services. Norwood Junction gains an all-day-long Thameslink service to Bedford via Blackfriars and St Pancras, with two trains per hour to Epsom via Sutton. South Croydon and Purley Oaks gain a semi-fast service to London Bridge. Sanderstead, Riddlesdown and the Oxted line gain additional peak hour services to London Bridge, several of which continue to Bedford, and they also gain an improved Sunday service. Coulsdon Town and Reedham have their service reinstated to four trains per hour on Mondays to Saturdays. The Tattenham Corner line will have an evening semi-fast service to London Bridge. The Kenley and Caterham line will gain a semi-fast off-peak and evening service to London Bridge, joining with the Tattenham Corner service at Purley.

The Victoria to Tonbridge service via East Croydon will be reduced to a shuttle service to and from Redhill

Coulsdon South and Purley will have their off-peak Victoria, Clapham Junction and Reigate semi-fast services reinstated. There will be an additional late-night train on Fridays and Saturdays at 1:10am from Victoria to Gatwick Airport which will call at Purley and Coulsdon South, while the Thameslink service to Peterborough will call at Coulsdon South instead of the Bedford service.

West Croydon, Waddon, Wallington, and Carshalton Beeches gain an increase in the service to Epsom to two trains per hour along with a new off-peak semi-service from Epsom and Sutton to London Bridge via Norwood Junction. At Carshalton, the off-peak service to Victoria increases to four trains per hour. Belmont and the Epsom Downs Branch will have its off-peak service increased to two trains per hour and a new Sunday services will be introduced. Selhurst, Thornton Heath, and Norbury will gain two trains per hour to Epsom Downs for Belmont and Royal Marsden Hospital, and after midnight they will have the Victoria to East Croydon service at 12:16am restored. On Friday and Saturday night the service from Victoria at 1:10am will call at Selhurst.

With all this good news, is there any bad news? Well, there are a few downsides as well. The Victoria to Tonbridge service via East Croydon will be reduced to a shuttle service to and from Redhill. The service between East Croydon and Norwood Junction is reduced by two trains per hour as the Tattenham Corner line trains no longer call there. This reduces the interchange opportunities with the Overground. The all-stations service to Victoria from Caterham, Purley, and East Croydon is diverted via Streatham and Peckham Rye, reducing the off-peak service from Selhurst, Thornton Heath and Norbury by two trains per hour. The off-peak West London line service from East Croydon to Watford and Milton Keynes via West Brompton and Shepherds Bush still remains at only one train per hour.

But the proof will be in the pudding: will GTR be able to deliver?

Other concerns with the timetable changes are that off-peak Oyster fares, off-peak travelcards, and use of Freedom Pass may change considerably for some people as the first train past 9:30am will be considerably later. For example, today the first off-peak train at Woodmansterne departs at 09:34am; under the new timetable it will be will depart at 09:55am.

Overall the changes are very good, but the proof will be in the pudding: will GTR be able to deliver all this? As this is a massive change, it will take a few weeks to settle down with so many drivers having to learn the new routes and the RMT dispute still lurking in the background, so we must give it some time to bed in.

After the timetable changes, we will seek several changes to improve the timetable locally. These will include additional stops at Norwood Junction and New Cross Gate to improve connections to the Overground, an increase in frequency of the off-peak service on the East Croydon to Watford service via the West London line to improve the services at Selhurst, Thornton Heath and Norbury with west and north London, and the reinstatement of a through service to Tonbridge. There will always be room for improvements, but if this new timetable can be delivered, GTR will have substantially improved Croydon’s railway service.

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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  • Jonny Rose

    Oooh, this is very interesting – and great news to hear.

    Quick question that you may know the answer to: What’s the thinking behind the Purley -> City Thameslink train starting at 9.34am and the last return service ( CT -> Purley) finishing at 4.01pm?

    I ask as someone who will start using that route next month from Purley and wants to understand why it doesn’t run during the time I’ll be travelling to and from the office (I will have to change at East Croydon both ways instead!).

    If you could shed any light on this it would be appreciated! :)

    • Greg Tingey

      09.34 and 16.01 – PLEASE?

      • Anne Giles

        9.34 a.m. and 4.01 p.m. are equally acceptable. It is extremely bad manners to correct people. We are all individuals and have our own way of describing things.

  • Robert Ward

    Thanks Charles, nice to have some good news. As you say, proof will be on delivery but with the new infrastructure and maintenance investment they should have a fighting chance.

    One of my frustrations has been that the performance of the routes relevant to Croydon has been lumped in with other GTR franchises. Do you have any thoughts on how we can judge the performance of our sections of their routes (the Southern franchise)?

  • simhedges

    “But the proof will be in the pudding” – Maybe, but we won’t know unless we eat it.

  • Jeannegenius

    Sounds good!

    However wish there was a way that tram and Overground could connect up more en route, particularly around Norwood Junction area i.e. it’s a shame that Norwood Junction isn’t on the tram line.

    We do have superb connections though in the Croydon area which is our main trump card – 15-20 minutes from Central London ( when it all runs properly!) with an all night service.

    If I were on the Council I would be trumpeting that fact to attract businesses and future residents to our town.

  • Greg Tingey

    Train times have been using the 24-hr clock for over 30 years now.
    I think it’s well past “time” that Charles King woke up …
    ( 12.16 a.m – err – NO – 00.16 – much easier to understand )

    • Anne Giles

      12.16 a.m. is equally acceptable.

    • Tom Black

      Charles actually submitted this article with the traditional 24 hour clock terminology for train times, but the Citizen’s style guide requires all times to be written out as am/pm, so it was edited accordingly. Please don’t be rude to Charles for something that was out of his control.

      • Anne Giles


      • Greg Tingey

        Thank you
        However, the “Citizen’s Style Guide requires stuffing rearwards into a timewarp