RAIL bosses have hit back at claims that one area has been “hammered” by timetable changes.

The new timetable will see changes across the network and a spoikesman for Govia Thameslink - which runs Southern - has said Lewes and the surrounding area has not been targeted for cuts.

He said: “Passengers in Lewes will benefit considerably from increases in frequency, capacity and reliability of their services to London and along the coast.

“By replacing through services to Ashford with overlapping services between Brighton and Hastings and between Eastbourne and Ashford, we can double the length of trains between Hastings and Eastbourne, and increase frequency from three to four per hour, where demand is highest. This also allows us to increase services between Lewes and Brighton from five to six per hour, with more frequent stops at Falmer and Moulsecoomb.

“Lewes will gain four more services per day to London, including three in the morning peak. The first train to Victoria will depart 20 minutes earlier to provide an earlier arrival at Gatwick Airport.

“There will be one fewer London Bridge service (two rather than three) in the morning peak.”

This reflects the greater demand for trains from Lewes to Victoria. At other times, passengers for London Bridge can change at East Croydon where will be at least ten trains per hour. In the evening peak, the number of trains from London Bridge to Lewes will remain at two, with an additional service from Victoria closing two current gaps of 45 minutes between trains.

“On average, journey times to London have been lengthened slightly to allow more time for passengers to board and alight, to integrate with the new pattern of Thameslink and Gatwick Express services, and to make the timetable more realistic (and thereby make journey times more predictable). While the fastest journeys will be 68 minutes rather than 63 minutes, more services will take just 68 minutes than currently take 68 minutes or less, and the longest duration will be only two minutes more than it is now.

“There will be six additional services per weekday from Lewes to Plumpton, and one to Cooksbridge.

“For the majority of the day, trains will stop at Berwick or Glynde, but not both. Prior to implementing this change we analysed passenger demand and identified that very few passengers would be affected. Many more passengers will benefit from a regular half hourly train service between Brighton and Hastings from 0500 until 2300. Berwick also maintains its direct peak-time trains to London at 0534, 0634 and 0734 but the current limited off-peak services will require a change of train at Lewes to connect. Berwick will also have an improved evening service between Brighton and Hastings. Following a request from Berwick passengers, we have recently added an additional stop on the 22:47 from Victoria at the station.

“While we are reducing the splitting of trains as far as we can, it will still be necessary to do this for some services, including at Haywards Heath where at some times of day dividing or joining trains is the most efficient way to meet demand for travelling between London and both East and West Sussex.”