The timetable which Southern introduced in December 2008 does not seem to be working very well. I commute from Three Bridges every day, and I have to say that nearly every train is late, and trains seem to be particularly delayed getting through Gatwick and East Croydon. It has been noticed elsewhere. I also spotted posters on the station apologising for the very poor service on Gatwick Express – which is now also operated by Southern.
The new timetable was a radical change from the old timetable. Virtually all train times on the long distance services were changed, including the extension of some Gatwick Express trains to Brighton. Radical timetable changes are relatively rare in Britain, and are highly risky. The ones which I remember are:
- The infamous “Operation Princess” Cross Country timetable of 2002 which was an unmitigated disaster.
- The South West Trains December 2004 timetable which saw an immediate and dramatic improvement in reliability, at the expense of slightly longer journey times and some service reductions.
- The January 2009 West Coast Main Line High Frequency service. Despite the electrification equipment failing numerous times, this timetable seems to me to be operating well.
I hope that Southern is desperately trying to sort out the problems. If things do not get better, I think some rapid back tracking will be necessary to remove some of the new trains from the timetable. Maybe the current economic conditions will provide an excuse?