Govia Thameslink Railway is in the process of introducing a revised timetable from Monday 30 March 2020 with the aim of ensuring services remain as sustainable as possible during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and scenario of reduced passengers and potentially reduced staff availability, especially train crew and other safety-critical staff. All constituents should remember to only travel if it’s absolutely essential.
The fully revised timetable from the 30 March onwards will be an adaption of our existing Sunday timetable, with earlier start and later finish times to provide extra services for emergency and other key workers. When I receive a copy of this from GTR I will provide an update.
As an additional change to be aware of, from Monday 30 March, we will temporarily suspend the Gatwick Express shuttle service which operates between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. This is to help us to keep other train services running and is in response to a significant fall in passenger numbers at the airport.
This change will enable Gatwick Express drivers to support other train services across the Brighton Main Line. It means, in practical terms that Southern services operating between Brighton and London Victoria will be covered by red Gatwick Express trains until further notice. Southern fares will apply and Gatwick Express tickets are no longer on sale.
This is because train drivers have specific train and route knowledge. A driver cannot drive a new route or a different type of train without specific and extensive training. Gatwick Express drivers are qualified for the entire route from London Victoria to Brighton (instead of simply the airport portion) and there is considerable overlap with Southern drivers who operate the “off-peak” Southern service between London Victoria and Brighton. Some of these Southern drivers, crucially, also have the right training to operate other services such as the Coastway routes to and from Eastbourne and Littlehampton. Because of this change, these Southern drivers can now be released from Brighton Main Line duties providing significantly more resilience across the network and meaning trains are more likely to run to schedule.
For more information on train scheduling please see the National Rail Enquiries website: https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/