On August 10 you reported Southern Railway’s proposal to end direct train services between Southampton Central and Gatwick Airport after 33 years, and increase the Southampton-Brighton service to half-hourly with ‘convenient’ Gatwick connections at Barnham.

Draft timetables show trains leaving Southampton at 20 and 50 minutes past the hour on Mondays to Saturdays, arriving at Barnham about six minutes after the Portsmouth-Gatwick services depart.

Passengers can then catch the ‘convenient’ connections which serve intermediate stations to Horsham, where the next half-hourly train from Portsmouth attaches.

Overall, journey times between Southampton and Gatwick would increase by about 20 per cent in both directions.

This is remarkable given the various initiatives in recent decades to improve rail access to airports.

Southern usefully plans to stop the revised services at Woolston. However, their rationale that Woolston’s buses can provide a quicker route to the city centre is questionable.

These buses can be crowded and are less frequent since the demise of the City Reds. In addition, people returning from the city centre are likely to allow more leeway to catch buses for Woolston train departures than for walking to Southampton Central.

Finally, a question of reliability. The Southampton-Portsmouth stopping services would leave Central station 16 minutes earlier, at 28 minutes past the hour.

This would create six-minute connections out of trains from Waterloo. The five-minute connections between trains from Waterloo and the stopping services to Bournemouth are often missed.

The consultation is open until 27.9.2023 at gtr.timetableconsultation@gtrailway.com

Denis Fryer