Early bird commuters between Uckfield and London Bridge will be able to arrive even earlier thanks to an additional morning service set to be introduced from December 2012.
The new service, which will operate on a line which has seen high growth levels, is being delivered thanks to an agreement between Southern Railway and the Department for Transport. The service will operate from Uckfield at 5:18am, arriving into London Bridge at 6:23am.
Southern is funding the new service in part from efficiencies it has delivered on its current franchise and the Department for Transport today (17 September 2012) formally agreed these savings can be used to provide the new service.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said:
I am pleased to see the industry looking at solutions that deliver benefits to passengers.
Adding an additional service to this vital route will mean more seats for passengers, easing congestion and providing earlier travel to London.
Southern’s Franchise Improvement Director David Scorey said:
The Uckfield line has seen significant growth in recent years and we are pleased that we have been able to find a way to respond to the increasing need for extra capacity, particularly on the morning service.
The service will operate until the end of the Southern franchise, at which point it may be operated by the successor franchise operator. The replacement franchise specification is subject to a public consultation, which closed on 23 August 2012. Due to the general high level of interest in this particular consultation, DfT has agreed to accept responses to the TSGN consultation up to 5:00pm on Friday 14 September.
Notes to editors
Who is paying for the additional service?
Southern has made efficiencies in delivering the committed obligations under the franchise agreement and this money along with a contribution from Southern will fund the additional service until the end of the Southern franchise in July 2015.
Why can’t Southern operate more trains on this route?
This route is operated by diesel trains as part of the route between Uckfield and Hurst Green is not electrified. Southern has a limited number of diesel units that are dedicated to the services they operate on this route and the Ashford to Hasting route.
What will happen when the Southern franchise ends?
The replacement franchise specification for the combined Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern (TSGN) franchise is subject to a public consultation, closes on 23 August 2012. Due to the general high level of interest in this particular consultation, DfT has agreed to accept responses to the TSGN consultation up to 5:00pm on Friday 14 September.
Bidders for the new franchise will be able to propose their own solutions for addressing longer term forecast demand, on the new franchise including the Uckfield and Hasting diesel routes in the longer term.
Where will any additional diesel trains come from in the future?
There are a number of electrification schemes planned which should give bidders of new franchises the confidence to choose electric rolling stock which will mean diesel rolling stock will become available for alternative routes.