Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Anger at rail timetable shake-up

Commuters at West Malling station
Commuters are angry at the loss of the direct service into Charing Cross

Commuters in parts of Kent are angered they will face extra journey times when their current train services to London are changed from next week.

Southeastern timetable changes mean journeys after 0705 GMT from West Malling, on the Maidstone line, will not go directly into Charing Cross.

From Sunday, the only route directly into London will be to Victoria.

Southeastern said the new timetable was based on a specification set by the Department for Transport (DfT).

'Legal obligation'

It said it would bring about the biggest change in more than 40 years and would mean an entirely new service pattern throughout the parts of Kent, East Sussex and south east London served by the company.

The new timetable also includes the new high speed domestic service which is currently running as a limited "preview" service.

Spokesman John Hay-Campbell said: "The actual withdrawal of the service is part of the Department for Transport's timetable specification which we are legally obliged to meet, and they decided they wanted to withdraw this service."

Martin Tripp

One commuter, Martin Tripp, said the change in train services would have an impact on the lives of many people

A spokesman from the DfT said: "We are committed to improving capacity on the railways and these changes are taking place to allow an overall increase in the number of trains operating across the Southeastern network."

Many of the commuters angered by the changes work in the City, which is easily accessible from Charing Cross.

By travelling into Victoria station instead, they will have to take the underground, adding up to half an hour to their journeys each way.

One commuter said it would mean an end to her "really easy, quick, fast journey" into London, while another said he was so fed up, he was moving to another Kent town.

Southeastern said the new timetable would provide passengers with more than 200 extra trains every day, boost capacity by 5% and dramatically speed up journey times for people using the high-speed services.

Charles Horton, managing director, said: "The majority of passengers will see an improvement in services but, as with all timetables, some compromises have had to be made and not everyone will be satisfied.

"However once we've introduced the timetable we will monitor services closely and work with the DfT to make any adjustments which are necessary."



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