England

Southern trains owner in timetable shake-up plan

Southern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Staff shortages and industrial action over the role of conductors have caused months of disruption on the Southern network

A rail franchise holder under fire over delays and strikes says it is planning a massive shakeup of its timetables.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is launching a public consultation on the plans for trains from the south of England to London, Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough.

GTR's Southern services have been disrupted in a long-running dispute over the role of conductors.

The RMT union called the timetable plan "spin" to hide the "daily chaos".

GTR said there would be new direct routes between Brighton, Gatwick Airport and Cambridge, and from London Bridge to the Medway Towns.

A spokesman said the changes planned for 2018 would lead to greater reliability.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Southern trains have been disrupted by a series of RMT strikes

Direct trains between London Victoria and Seaford may no longer run with journey times between Victoria and Eastbourne and direct services between Brighton and Seaford reduced.

Services between Brighton and Eastbourne, and between Brighton and Hastings could be increased, GTR said.

Passengers travelling between Brighton and Ashford International may have change at either Eastbourne or Hastings, adding up to 27 minutes to the journey.

Phil Hutchinson, who is leading the public consultation on the plans, said: "We are proposing a complete redesign of the timetable by looking at which journeys are most important to passengers.

"We are creating more capacity and new cross-London routes with connections to Crossrail."

But Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, said: "Passengers don't want to be consulted on how services may improve in almost two years' time.

"They want action now to end the daily chaos to their journeys.

"This can only raise suspicions that the Southern spin machine is at full tilt to obscure the reality of cancelled train services."

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