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Summer timetable 2024 – additional information

Last updated: 1 May 2024

Hemel Hempstead to East Croydon 

What is changing? 

There is currently a limited direct Southern service between Hemel Hempstead and East Croydon on weekdays only. This is formed of departures towards East Croydon at 07:31, 11:38, 19:38 and 21:37. Services arrive from East Croydon at 07:26, 11:28, 19:30 and 21:27. The focus of the service is to provide the 07:31 departure and a return journey arriving at 19:30.  The service is a limited extension of the all-day service from Watford Junction to East Croydon, with Watford Junction as the next station from Hemel Hempstead.  

Following a joint review with Network Rail, from Monday 3 June, Southern direct services will run between Watford Junction and East Croydon only with no extensions to/from Hemel Hempstead. 

The Hemel Hempstead to Watford Junction journey time is short at nine minutes and the two stations are connected by up to five London Northwestern Railway services per hour.  

The alternative for current customers of the 07:31 departure from Hemel Hempstead is to use either the 07:25 London Northwestern departure and connect to the service at origin at Watford Junction at 07:39. In the return direction, customers that currently use the 19:30 arrival at Hemel Hempstead will now leave the train at Watford Junction at 19:23. Onwards London Northwestern services to Hemel Hempstead are available at 19:30 and 19:44. 

Why is this change being made? 

Part of the rationale for the original service was to maintain an alternative turnback location to Watford Junction in the event of infrastructure failure at that location by maintaining Hemel Hempstead as an alternative. This has never been required in practice and following investment in Watford Junction is now considered significantly less likely in the future. There is now an alternative turnback location available at Watford Junction at all times.  

By contrast, terminating and turning services on the West Coast Main Line does introduce the risk of knock-on delay to all services whether local or long distance to all journeys between London and Glasgow. 

The joint review with Network Rail also considered demand for the service. This is relatively low at between approximately seventy and ninety customers for the most popular service. As the current service involves turning a train around at Hemel Hempstead, providing the service requires using over a fifth of the hourly capacity of two of the four lines of the West Coast Main Line, the busiest railway in the UK. 

As a result, while the direct service is clearly valued by customers who use it, the review concluded that with a high frequency London Northwestern service between Watford Junction and Hemel Hempstead and a short journey time between the two, our customers’ needs can be met by a service which starts at Watford Junction.   

Littlehampton to London Bridge 

What is changing? 

There is currently a limited direct service between Littlehampton and London Bridge formed of one service towards London Bridge in the AM and one service towards Littlehampton in the PM on weekdays. 

From Monday 3 June 2024, this service will run Monday-Thursday only.  

For customers on Fridays travelling between Littlehampton and London Bridge: 

  • For stations between Littlehampton and Hove – change at an intermediary station such as Haywards Heath, Gatwick Airport or East Croydon using the Littlehampton to London Victoria service
  • For stations between Preston Park and East Croydon – alternative direct services to London Bridge or Littlehampton are available

Why is this change being made? 

This change follows a review of passenger numbers using the service. For example after calling previously at eleven stations, approximately three hundred passengers can be expected to be on board on departure at Preston Park for the AM service Tuesday-Thursday. By contrast on Fridays, the number of passengers is below ninety, all of whom have a number of train services that they are able to easily use as alternatives.  

As a result of making this change, the mileage cost of operating this service is reduced. The mileage saving is then reinvested into the new timetable for the West Coastway route which includes increasing the frequency of the all-day Littlehampton to London Victoria service, which will benefit many more customers.