TRAIN bosses have reversed plans to force off-peak commuters to pay more after public outrage.

Govia Thameslink Railway had announced plans to scrap direct off-peak Southern Rail trains from Brighton to London Victoria due to building works at Gatwick station.

This would force commuters to pay an extra £5.40 to travel on off-peak Gatwick Express trains from May 18.

Now the rail firm has agreed to lower the price of off-peak Gatwick Express tickets to £19.90, the same price as an off-peak Southern service.

Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris announced the decision.

“GTR will be extending the Super Off-Peak and Kids for £2 Southern fare products to be eligible on Gatwick Express services from Brighton for the duration of the Gatwick Station works,” he said.

“The industry is working on developing a passenger handling plan and will prioritise its responsibilities regarding accessibility.”

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said the decision was “great news”.

“Off-peak rail passengers were going to be seriously affected by the loss of Southern’s off-peak service,” she said.

“This would have impacted so many travellers, and potentially caused real problems for some, like the elderly or infirm.”

But when Ms Lucas asked Govia Thameslink if Gatwick Express trains could make an extra stop at Clapham Junction, the train firm rejected the idea.

“I had a meeting with the chief executive of Govia Thameslink to see if it could be arranged for the Gatwick Express to make an extra stop at Clapham Junction during off-peak hours,” he said.

“Unfortunately I was told that this isn’t possible for complex timetable reasons.”

Outside peak hours, Gatwick Express will operate as a half-hourly service to and from Brighton.

Almost all trains will run with twelve carriages instead of eight.

Southern services from Littlehampton and Hastings to London Victoria will now operate as dedicated services with eight carriages.

Southern off-peak services from London Victoria will no longer run direct to or from Brighton during the two years of work.

A Govia Thameslink Railway spokesman said: “We can confirm the Government announcement that the Brighton to London Victoria super off-peak day return tickets will be valid on Gatwick Express services for the duration of the Gatwick station upgrade work.

"We will also be extending the Kids for £2 offer to be eligible on Gatwick Express services."