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13% increase in GTR train services in UK’s biggest ever timetable change

GTR Chief Executive Charles Horton said “We don’t want passengers to get caught out and so we strongly advise them to look up the times of their trains as they will find that from 20 May each and every one of them has changed.”

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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) today announced a significant boost to services as part of its RailPlan 20/20 programme with almost 400 (or 13%) more trains running every day when its new timetable is introduced next week.

GTR, Britain’s biggest rail operator, will start to run around 3,600 trains – one every 24 seconds – across its network in a step forward for its programme to boost capacity across the region.

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Passengers are today urged to check before they travel ahead the shake-up, with the time of every train changing on Sunday 20 May.

Departures and arrivals will be re-set across the entire GTR network of Southern Railway, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern, which together account for almost a quarter of all UK rail journeys.

Many passengers can expect their trains to start and terminate at different stations, for example many King’s Cross services will instead call at the adjacent St Pancras International.

Passengers will see huge benefits as a result of the changes with space into London for an extra 50,000 passengers in the morning peak.

Due to the expansion, 80 more stations will have direct services to central London stations such as Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars by next year.

Rail passengers will benefit from enhanced frequency, reliability and connectivity across the network, with significant uplift at key commuter stations such as Brighton, Bedford, Luton and East Croydon.

Some disruption to services is expected during a major re-deployment of trains and crews over the coming weeks.

Charles Horton, GTR Chief Executive, said:

“We are introducing the biggest ever change to a rail timetables to significantly boost capacity on the UK’s most congested network. We don’t want passengers to get caught out and so we strongly advise them to look up the times of their trains as they will find that from 20 May each and every one of them has changed.

“Due to the sheer scale of the changes, we will have to redeploy a large number of trains and crews and services may not run at normal times during the introductory phase, although the impact on peak time services during the transition will be minimal.”

“Introduction of the new timetables is a major milestone in the delivery of RailPlan 20/20, our programme to modernise rail services, taking advantage of the new infrastructure and trains provided by the Government’s £7bn Thameslink Programme.”

As part of the decade-long upgrade project, London Bridge has undergone a £1bn rebuild and, in Britain’s biggest fleet order, some 115 new self-drive Siemens trains are being introduced.

Passengers have been asked for their input to the new timetable with 28,000 responses received over 18 months in the biggest consultation of its kind.

Crime

Two jailed after attempt to smuggle 8.5kgs of cocaine through Gatwick

“This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK”, says Chris Capel, Assistant Director of Border Force South.

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The drugs, which had been wrapped in plastic and hidden inside boxes marked ‘rum’, weighed approximately 8.5kgs.

Two men from Barbados are facing a total of 13 years in jail after pleading guilty to attempting to smuggle an estimated 8.5kgs of cocaine into the UK.

On 1 September, Border Force officers stopped 62-year-old Grantley Herbert Thompson, and 30-year-old Jamal Ricardo Walcott, in the customs channels at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal. Both had arrived on a flight from Barbados.

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During a search of their baggage officers discovered a white powder, wrapped in green plastic, and hidden inside boxes marked rum. The powder was subsequently tested and gave a positive reaction to the field test for cocaine. The cocaine had an estimated street value of £535,000.

Chris Capel, Assistant Director of Border Force South said:

“This was a deliberate, if unsophisticated attempt to smuggle dangerous Class A drugs into the UK and I commend the Border Force officers whose work ensured that Thompson and Walcott are now behind bars.

“Illegal drugs have a significant impact on our society, being the root cause behind countless burglaries, thefts and robberies. They are also used as a commodity by organised criminals linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.

“We continue to work with our colleagues from the National Crime Agency (NCA) to do all we can to stamp out this despicable trade and bring those responsible to justice.”

The case was referred to the NCA and Thompson and Walcott were charged with importation of a class A drug.

62-year-old Grantley Thompson.

On Thursday, 11 October the pair appeared at Croydon Crown Court where they admitted the smuggling attempt. Both were sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment immediately.

30-year-old Jamal Walcott.

The Government’s Serious Violence Strategy, which was launched in April, aims to combat the devastating impact drugs have on levels of serious violence.

It also highlights a strong link between drugs and serious violence and the related harm and exploitation from county lines. The Government has set out the action it will take to tackle this violent and exploitative criminal activity. The action of Border Force to stop drugs before they get into the country forms a key part of this work.

Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.

Nationally, they use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as visual searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.

Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go to https://www.gov.uk/report-smuggling

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