New cross-London Saturday services
Thameslink is introducing two additional through-London services every hour between Peterborough and Horsham on Saturdays, from 21 December. These will increase the number of direct services to St Pancras International station, central London and Gatwick Airport, helping passengers along the route make more of their weekends.
Peterborough, Huntingdon, St Neots, Sandy, Biggleswade and Arlesey will have a direct Gatwick Airport service on Saturdays for the first time. Cross-London services to Gatwick from Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park will triple to three trains per hour.
Central London stations between St Pancras International and London Blackfriars will see an increase in the popular Saturday services from 11 to 13 trains per hour in each direction.
Thameslink is creating the new cross-London services by linking existing Peterborough to King's Cross services with London Bridge to Horsham services, through central London via St Pancras and Blackfriars.
More trains for New Southgate and Oakleigh Park
From Monday, 16 December, more weekday peak Great Northern trains will call at the busy stations of New Southgate and Oakleigh Park, as requested by passenger groups in the area. Both stations will see an extra two trains towards Moorgate per hour during the morning peak, creating a peak service of six London trains per hour.
Moorgate line closures on weeknight and evenings
From Saturday 14 December 2019 until summer 2020, the line from Finsbury Park to Moorgate will be closed on most weekday evenings from 21.40 and on most weekends.
On these evenings and weekends, all services to/from Moorgate will be diverted into King's Cross. In addition, on weeknights, we will need to reduce the frequency of these late evening trains using King's Cross by temporarily removing four planned departures from London.
This is to allow Network Rail to carry out intensive maintenance and cleaning of the tunnels; as well as preparatory work ahead of installing a new signalling system which will allow us to run more trains in the future.
Full details is available at: https://www.greatnorthernrail.com/travel-information/plan-your-journey/northern-city-line
Cooksbridge gets all-day service for the first time on Mondays to Saturdays
Extra station stops will give Cooksbridge campaigners an all-day service for the first time on Mondays to Saturdays, and more trains from London in the evening peak, starting on Monday 16 December.
Previously the village had only peak hour services, with no trains at all on Saturdays.
The other notable timetable change in the East Sussex and Kent area will be the earlier departure of what is currently the weekday 07:16 Rye to Ashford International service. At the request of local passengers, from 16 December this will leave at 07:06 to provide a connection to Southeastern's high speed services.
Southern Rail and Building Heroes join forces to help ex-servicemen back into work
Southern Rail has teamed up with charity Building Heroes to upskill its new maintenance team and at the same time help ex-servicemen and women back into work.
Building Heroes works with Chichester College to put military veterans through an intensive five-week course which gives them a Level 1 foundation course in property maintenance from where they can find work.
Working in partnership with the charity, Southern is putting its own newly-formed in-house maintenance team through the same training, which helps towards the cost of the charity's training. In addition, Building Heroes graduates will also be considered for any vacancies in Southern's team.
On Friday, 6 December, the partners celebrated the graduation of the first Southern employee together with 12 ex-servicemen at Southern's new maintenance depot in Horsham. The depot features a workshop with industrial woodwork and metalworking equipment which will allow Southern to better maintain its stations.
The Great Sock Success
Passengers gave us an amazing response in our first ever Great Sock Appeal, with teams inundated with donations to give to charity.
For our Christmas charity campaign we have been encouraging customers & our teams to drop off new pairs of socks at participating stations to support our regional homeless partners. It's at a crucial time of year when debilitating conditions that affect the most vulnerable in society can easily be prevented by providing protection from the cold.
Teams at Blackfriars, Royston, Bedford, Luton, St Albans, East Croydon, Stevenage, Brighton, Harpenden, Hitchin, Letchworth, Sanderstead, Bexhill, depot and office locations took part in the mammoth collection - which totals over 4,000.
The local charities we have partnered with this year to provide socks to those in need are:
Bedford - Noah Enterprise
Luton - Noah Enterprise
St Albans - Centre 33
Stevenage - Helping Herts Homeless
Royston - Helping Herts Homeless
Blackfriars - The Connection at St Martin's
East Croydon - Spires
Brighton - Brighton Housing Trust
Thank you for your support.
Horsham station full of festive cheer thanks to schoolchildren
Horsham schoolchildren have filled their local Southern station with Christmas cheer.
Youngsters from the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School serenaded their families, station staff and rail users with carols on Monday 9 December.
The children, who have severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties or complex needs, also created numerous decorations for a giant Christmas tree next to the station's ticket gates.
Class Teacher and Music Coordinator Rosie Huggett said: "The children were very excited to come along to the station to sing carols. It's a great place for us to sing because of all the people coming through. We're very grateful to Southern for hosting us."
Grandfather John Milborrow, who proudly watched his granddaughter sing, said: "It's a great idea to have the carol singing at the station; it creates such a lovely atmosphere. It's a wonderful school."
The jungle-themed piano was also decorated by Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School, and it is played regularly by rail users.
Southern and Gatwick Express trains wins reliability prizes
Trains used on Southern and Gatwick Express routes have picked up three medals for reliability at a ceremony held on Friday 22 November.
Rail industry 'Golden Spanner' awards were given to trains used on suburban services in south London and Surrey as well as those between Uckfield and London Bridge, Eastbourne and Ashford, and Brighton, Gatwick and Victoria.
The maintenance team at Stewarts Lane depot in Battersea, south London, earned the Golden Spanner for looking after Southern Railway's 46-strong 'Class 455' fleet, the country's most reliable fleet of older electric-powered trains.
Selhurst depot's maintenance team won the Bronze Spanner for the 20-strong Southern 'Class 171' fleet in the category for 'first generation' new diesel trains. Bronze awards are for the fewest delays per incident, effectively the fastest service recovery should a train suffer technical problems.
Engineers based at Lovers' Walk depot in Brighton, supported by the Hornsey north London depot team, won another Bronze Spanner for the fastest recovery service for their fleet of Gatwick Express Class 387/2 in the category 'second generation' newer electric trains.
Pay as you go with contactless arrives at three Hertfordshire stations
Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and Welham Green are the latest Govia Thameslink Railway stations to welcome the convenience of pay as you go with contactless.
Pay as you go with contactless generally offers the cheapest single fares towards London by customers simply touching their contactless payment card or smartphone payment app on the yellow readers at the station.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has worked with Transport for London and the Department for Transport (DfT) to extend the contactless system to Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and Welham Green - in addition to the Key Smartcard, KeyGo and paper tickets.
Across London and the surrounding areas, around 60 per cent of all pay as you go journeys are now made using contactless. This is up from 25 per cent just a few years ago. Since it launched on Tube and rail services in September 2014, more than 3.1 billion journeys have been made, showing how Londoners and visitors have taken to using contactless payments as part of their daily lives.
From next year, price caps for contactless users will be introduced at Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and Welham Green.