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Commuters rail against train changes after Southern Rail cut 341 services

Commuters have poured scorn on Southern Railway, as many were left stranded with no way of getting to work from Dulwich, Peckham and Bermondsey after emergency timetables were brought in on Monday.

Southern Railway operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), last week announced cancellations of 341 services and unveiled the new timetables for lines throughout London and the South East.

But it became apparent on Monday morning that the damage would be far worse for Southwark residents than expected.

Services between London Bridge and North Dulwich (stopping at East Dulwich, Peckham Rye, Queen’s Road and South Bermondsey) have been limited to only six services between 6am and 10am. Fourteen services have been cancelled.

For the journey home, there are now ten services running between London Bridge and North Dulwich, with twelve cancelled.

A GTR spokesman said on Monday that 85 per cent of services were still running as normal with the new timetable, suggesting Southwark services had been cut most severely.

The spokesman also said eighteen per cent of trains on the new timetable were not “running to time”.

Southwark Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, councillor Mark Williams, has written to the secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin, to speak on behalf of “furious” commuters.

Cllr Williams said: “It’s the equivalent of the council attempting to resolve an issue with the services our staff provide by moving to monthly waste collections or only opening schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Our residents would not put up with this, and neither should they have to put up with this inadequate and insulting service from Southern.

“I urge you to take them out of the equation immediately and pass the franchise to Transport for London as soon as possible, putting any necessary interim measures in place.”

The emergency action by GTR has been taken due to severe staff shortages. The operator is in an ongoing battle with the Rail, Maritime and Transport trade union who have taken industrial action against the firm’s plan to start using driver-only operated trains.

Southern’s Passenger Services Director, Alex Foulds, said: “Conductors already know their jobs are guaranteed, that there will be no reduction in salary and that the independent rail safety body has confirmed our plans are safe.”

An early day motion has been tabled by London MPs calling for Govia and its franches to be stripped of its responsibility for train services on the lines, and make an “an accelerated transfer of Greater London services to Transport for London”.

It has so far been signed by eight MPs including: Rosena Allin-Khan for Tooting, Jim Dowd for Lewisham and Penge, Harriet Harman for Camberwell and Peckham, Helen Hayes for Dulwich and West Norwood, and Chuka Umunna for Streatham.

‘The next train was an hour later’

Nuala Ginty, 38, said her commute on Monday was a “complete nightmare”.

“My commute is from East Dulwich to Canary Wharf, usually via London Bridge. Every train has been cancelled.

“The driver said everyone was off sick and hadn’t come to work, so I’ve had to get busses everywhere.

“I have one friend who has had to quit his job in London because the commute is so unpredictable. Another friend further south with two small kids has moved back to London with his parents because it’s all he can do.

“I don’t know how the bosses of this company can just blame the poor drivers for wanting to protect their jobs and their right, while they get paid such massive bonuses, it’s vile.”

 

Jess McCabe, of Herne Hill, said on Monday:

“This morning there was almost no service when I got to North Dulwich. I’d missed the train by a minute and the next was an hour later.

“I could have misread the new timetable, but it was worse than I had expected. I wasn’t the only one, there were several commuters remonstrating with the hapless person from Southern in the station. There wasn’t even any information on alternative routes, which is pretty pathetic.”

 

Ralph Blackburn, 24, of Grove Vale, East Dulwich, said:

“I will avoid [the trains] due to fear of overcrowding. Given most trains were standing-only when there were six trains an hour, I would hate to think how busy they will be with one.

“There was no consultation and very little warning about the timetable changes from Southern. I get the trains from East Dulwich every day and only heard about the changes through the media.”

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