Little cheer was spread on the Tonbridge to Redhill line this Christmas as GTR failed to provide anything even resembling a service.
We all know that GTR doesn’t care about the Tonbridge to Redhill line. That much has been clear for years. Any excuse they get, they cut services and throw people on to buses. It’s clear that GTR regards the line as something to be ready sacrificed in favour of their other services. They are indifferent to the fact that this is an airport link and people are missing planes as a result. Indeed, it’s almost as if they want to kill off any prospect of direct trains to Gatwick being restored.
Last Christmas, service was especially bad and so TLC launched an investigation into what happened to ensure that this never happens again. What we’ve found will shock you.
Let’s take the 30th December. A full festive timetable was scheduled and a full crew were booked. The only difference was that the two had separate timetables! Now any competent organisation would have got the staff together and reissued a staff timetable to match the public one and get the trains running. So what did GTR do? With crew ready and eager to go, GTR cancelled the trains and hired buses. No trains ran in either direction between 12:00 and 20:00.
On other days we’ve even heard of trains being cancelled so crew can get taxis to the other end rather than run a train service.
Why would they do this? It must be more expensive to run the railway this way than having a simple managed plan? TLC understands that the team responsible for running the Tonbridge to Redhill line also run the Brighton mainline and there’s no surprise to find we lose out to that line everyday but are they really so stretched that giving up and running buses is the answer?
We’ve approached GTR for comment but they reply with spin and denial. One of their claims is that they only intended to run 3 trains on the 27th and 7 on the 30th. In fact 36 trains were advertised in the public timetable for 30th December alone. Surely a fundamental part of being a train company is knowing what trains you’re meant to be running.
This cannot continue.
The Tonbridge-Redhill line must be put under new management that will promote it rather than neglect it. We are repeating our call for the line to be transferred to the South Eastern franchise and for direct links to Gatwick to be restored. Passengers deserve better.
Our fight will go on, and we will update this site as we uncover more.