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Information

Here at Southern, we think that providing you with the information you need to make your journey as quick and convenient as possible is hugely important.

This page has everything you need to know about how to get the information you want. We have a whole raft of people you can talk to, maps, documents and timetables you can download and websites you can visit for all your information needs. You can also interact with us through our Twitter page to make it more of a two-way experience.

But things don’t always go smoothly and when our services are disrupted, your need for fast, accurate and comprehensive information becomes critical, as you need to make informed choices about what your options are. On this page, we also explain what you can expect from us when things go wrong.

Quick links  
Planning your journey
Accessibility
Train times
Engineering works
Your station
Buying your ticket
Our commitment to you
Talk to us
What's new
In times of disruption
Service disruption

Your journey, your station and your tickets

You want to know the time of your train, you want to know about engineering works that may affect your journey, you want details of our network so you can plan your journey, you want to book assistance, you want to know what facilities are available at stations such as ticket office opening times, accessible facilities, car parking facilities, step-free access, and you want to know the best way to buy your ticket. There are plenty of ways you can get all of this information and more.

Planning your Journey

You can see the entire Southern network, on our Network Map. You may be making a journey that you are unfamiliar with either within the Southern network or beyond, so you’ll need to know if you have to change, or use other forms of transport as part of the overall journey. This journey planning information can be found on our website when you use our online ticket booking system.  Just visit the homepage to use. Alternatively, you can visit the National Rail Enquiries website.

If you’re thinking of a day out by train and are not sure where you want to go, our Destination Guide page gives you a route by route guide with hundreds of places to visit.

If you want to plan a step free route or see what facilities are provided at station then you can view our Station Access Guide & Map (PDF_Icon_Small 2.22mb).

If you are thinking of taking your non-folding bicycle with you on the train, there are restrictions on the times when you can do so. For details, please see our Cycle Policy page. We do accept folding bikes on all of our services.

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Accessibility

We have produced a Passengers’ guide to our Disabled People’s Protection Policy (DPPP) which is a comprehensive guide to help you access our rail network. Contained within the guide is a Station Access Guide. This is a Southern network map that shows which stations have step-free access and which stations don’t, along with lots of useful information on helping you to get help should you need it. The DPPP is available at any of our staffed stations or you can download it from our Accessibility page together with other information about our accessibility initiatives like the priority seat card.

Assisted Travel

If you are in need of physical assistance to board and alight from our trains, we would encourage you to take advantage of our Assisted Travel booking service. You can book your journey through our Assisted Travel team (tel: 0800 138 1016, Minicom/textphone: 0800 138 1018) and on the day, staff will help you at the station. When you reach your destination, you will also be met and helped to get off the train. The team can also help you plan a journey to ensure you have step-free access and organise alternatives if a station is not step free or staffed.

We have easy read pages on our website which may be useful to passengers with a learning difficulty who want to use our services.

To book your journey, please visit our Assisted Travel page. You can do it by phone, fax, e-mail or post.

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Train Times

You can find out about train times in several ways. You can call our Customer Service Centre on 03451 27 29 20, you can call National Rail Enquiries on 0845 48 49 50, you can see posters at our stations, you can pick up a timetable from any staffed Southern station and you can download one from our Timetable page, including a larger print version. You can even create your own customised timetable. You might want to visit the National Rail Enquiries website to find out about ways to use your phone to get train time information.

Leaf fall timetable

Each Autumn, to enable the timetable to remain robust, we introduce a special leaf fall timetable on a small number of routes where slippery rails cause us problems. This usually means that some trains leave earlier than usual, giving them more time and opportunity to reach the Brighton Main line on time, slotting in at their usual times. These timetables are communicated shortly before they come into effect.

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Engineering Works

From time to time – especially overnight and on some weekend days, planned engineering works need to take place which may affect your journey, whether it’s some or your entire journey being replaced by buses, or diversions becoming necessary. Both these scenarios add time to your overall journey so you’ll need to be aware of what’s happening, enabling you to allow some extra time for your journey on the day.

You can get details of planned engineering works from our Customer Service Centre on 03451 27 29 20, you can see our Improvement Works page, or you can visit the National Rail Enquiries website. Emergency engineering works are covered in our disruption section later on this page.

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Your station

On the web

You may want to know what facilities are available at a station on the Southern network. We have information on all our stations which you may find useful. Just go to our Find Station Information page, enter the name of the station you require and you’ll be taken to a page dedicated to that station. There you can find information on staffing, ticket office opening times, passenger services, station facilities, access information, transport links and information systems. You can also visit the National Rail Enquiries website for their ‘Stations Made Easy’ station maps which use clickable icons allowing you to access information about the facilities at the station.

We have a Public Transport page where you can find out about our links with connecting public transport service providers.

At the station

Information Zones
Our stations have Information Zoning areas which bunch posters together which contain information of the same nature. For example, you’ll find train times and service information, onward and integrated travel information, station specific information and marketing information all in one place.

Outside the station you’ll see a poster with maps of the local area with bus stops and taxi ranks marked, local bus routes and times and details of how to contact other transport operators.

Onward Travel

At some of our stations, Multi Mode Information Screens display real-time bus running information and in some of our newly refurbished waiting rooms, there are Information Pods, linking you to local transport providers’ websites and give information about accessibility.

Maps for all

Some of our stations contain Maps for All. These are designed specifically with access for all in mind and contain information about the station using a series of raised lettering, numbers, Braille and icons.

Help Points

Most Southern stations have Help Points which can be used to talk to someone in our Control Centre who will answer your question or assist you if you need help, all have a hearing loop fitted and are linked to the CCTV at the station. It doesn’t need to be an emergency – Help Points are there for you to use.

All Southern stations now have electronic Customer Information Systems which give real time train running information. Some of our Help Points also display this information.

Accessibility

We try to make our stations as accessible as we can. We are unable to provide step-free access at some of our stations as their design and structural layout does not make this possible. Our station access guide gives details of the accessibility at each station and is available at any of our staffed stations or you can download it from our Accessibility page.

Also on our Accessibility page, you will find many more things to help you if your first language is not English or you have difficulty communicating. One of these is our Communication Guide which is downloadable and contains pictures of the things you are most likely to want or need help with. You can down load it to take with you or ask for it at our stations a member of staff will assist you if you point to the picture you want help with and he or she will know what to do.

Additionally, you can find details about the Disabled Persons Railcard and our Priority Seat Card.

Our Staff

Our staff are well trained, well informed and happy to help you.

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Buying your ticket

There are two ways to buy your ticket - online and at the station. Before you buy though, you’ll need to know what kind of ticket you need for your journey. An explanation of the different ticket types and discount cards that are available and the terms and conditions of use can be found on our Tickets & fares page.

There are many advantages in buying your ticket online – discounted fares, no queues and buying from the comfort of your home are among them. Not only that, tickets can be collected at the station or posted to your home free of charge. We also don’t make a charge for using debit/credit cards.

Just visit our homepage and use our online ticket purchasing system which you’ll find on the left of the page. For details of our special offers, see our Offers page, and look out for our marketing posters at stations for all the latest offers.

You can also buy your ticket at the station from either the ticket office or from one of our Ticket Vending Machines which are now much easier to use and have recently been enhanced to give you more choice and more information about your journey. Find out more about what our ticket machines have to offer on out Ticket Vending Machines page.

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Our commitment to you

Our Passengers' Charter tells you about our commitment to you and the standards to which we work and our Delay Repay scheme looks after your ticketing compensatory needs should things go wrong and you are delayed. We’re also keen for you to know how we are doing, so we publish our performance statistics on a regular basis.

Passengers’ Charter

Our focus is on providing better punctuality of your trains through infrastructure and train reliability improvements, enhancements to information provision, particularly during disruption, at stations, on trains and from our staff, easier ways to buy your tickets with online services and with new smartcard ticketing from 2012 and continuous effort to improve the general quality of the service we provide as measured by our dedicated service quality improvement team.

You can download the Passenger’s Charter document in full on our Passengers’ Charter page.

Delay Repay

Sometimes your journey may be delayed. If your train is delayed by 30 minutes or more – regardless of the reason, you may be entitled to a refund of part of or the entire price of your ticket. For more details, please see our Delay Repay page.

Performance

How are we doing? You can find out by visiting our Performance Results Page. Here you can find out how our punctuality is going for Our Metro Area, our Sussex Region and Gatwick Express. These figures are expressed in four-weekly periods and also on an annual basis.

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Talk to Us

Do you have something you need to know? Do you need help or need to get something off your chest? There are many ways you can talk to us.

Customer Services

If you want to talk to someone, our UK based Customer Service Centre is operated by highly trained and knowledgeable staff who are happy to take your call. Whether it’s about ticket prices, train times, suggestions, praise or complaints, the staff will always welcome a call from you. You can also fax, e-mail, use our online comments form or use the post to contact them.

Details of how to contact our Customer Service Centre are on our Contact Us page.

Assisted Travel

If you want to talk to someone about planning an accessible journey, booking assistance or enquiries about facilities and services for disabled people please call our assisted travel line.  It is a free phone number given priority which is dedicated to assisted travel.

Details of how to contact our Assisted Travel team are on our Contact Assisted Travel Team page.

If you have a suggestion for an access improvement that would help passengers with disabilities access our services easier you can email our Accessibility Manager on access@southernrailway.com.

Twitter

You might fancy a chat, you might want to point something out to us or you might want to start a discussion. Where can you do that? Twitter. You can now interact with us via Twitter and the number of contributors is rising at a steady rate.

If you’d like to join in, follow @SouthernRailUK on Twitter.

Meet the Manager

If you want to talk face to face with a Southern Director or Senior Manager, you have the chance to do just that at any of our Meet the Manager sessions. We hold regular sessions at Victoria, London Bridge and Brighton stations. You can talk to them about anything to do with Southern and if they can’t answer your question there and then, they will come back to you when they have it.

Please see our Meet the Manager page for more details.

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In times of disruption

Sometimes things go wrong and your train may be delayed or cancelled. Occasionally, and especially when there are severe weather conditions, many parts of the Southern network can be affected so we have to reduce the service significantly in order to provide you with the best possible level of train service. You can be assured that when the train service is disrupted, we work extremely hard to ensure we get you to where you need to be with the minimum amount of disruption, but, sometimes we have to make some very difficult decisions on the level of service we can provide and that very much depends on the situation we are presented with at the time.

General disruption and engineering works

Planned engineering works

Even when things are running smoothly, your journey can be interrupted by planned engineering works. These are generally planned to be either overnight or at less busy times such as at weekends and Bank Holidays. When you are planning your journey, it’s always best to check to see if your route is affected as in some cases, you may need to allow extra time for your journey as part of it may involve changing onto a bus.

You can get details of planned engineering works from our Customer Service Centre on 03451 27 29 20, you can see our Improvement Works page , or you can visit the National Rail Enquiries website.

Emergency Engineering works and other issues

Occasionally, problems occur with signalling and points systems, tunnels, bridges or even the track itself which means that immediate repairs have to be made. Sadly, sometimes fatalities occur on the railway and every now and then something happens like a broken down train, vandalism, incident or accident. All of these will mean that temporarily, the train service is disrupted as a result.

When these things happen, you need to know what’s happening, what effect it’s having on the train service and what your options are if you need to change your plans.

Our Website

There are a number of places where you can go to find out what’s going on. The first of these is our website.  You’re here already, so you know the address, but do you know where to find the information you need? Assuming there is a problem:

As soon as you reach our home page, you’ll be met with either a scrolling ‘ticker’ or our ‘disruption box’.

The scrolling ticker will alert you to the fact that there is a minor problem and will have details of the general area where the problem has occurred. You’ll need to click on the text which will take you to our Live Running page. This will have more detail about the problem and give you the cause, the effect and your options.

The disruption box is only used in times of severe disruption and is located at the top of the homepage when it appears. It is designed to alert you to the fact that there is a problem and you may need to make adjustments to your journey as a result. Depending on the severity of the situation and on the level of information known at the time, this will generally be a summary of the problem, advising you where to go to get further information.

Rainbow map

Our network is both large and complex. To make things simpler and to help you identify if your journey is affected, we’ve come up with a map that has each major route identified as a colour. You can download the network map. The map is used in conjunction with our rainbow board which you can see on our homepage. The rainbow board is a pulse check showing you the level of service on each route. The default position for each route is ‘good service’, but if a route is disrupted it will show minor or major disruption, partial closure or full closure. All you need to do is to click on the route and you will be taken to our Live Running page where you can get details of the problem.

Live Departure Board

You can see which trains are running to and from your station via our Live Departure Board which is also on our Live Running page.

National Rail Enquiries

Should you need to find out more about a specific train, please call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50.

Southern Customer Services

You can also call our Customer Service centre on 03451 27 29 20.

Our Staff

Don’t forget that our staff are here to help you and as you’ll see below, we have taken steps to ensure that they have the information you need at the time you need it so talk to them when you need information about your train.

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Service disruption
Often, when unplanned disruption occurs, it is localised, but if it affects you, it’s important that you know what to expect regarding your journey and what you can expect from us in terms of telling you about it so you can make an informed decision on how you are going to complete your journey based on the options available to you. The same principles apply whether it’s minor or major disruption.

Over the years, we have listened to, and learned lessons from your feedback. You tell us that disruption to your journey is inconvenient, but not knowing what’s happening is both extremely annoying and very frustrating. We couldn’t agree more and that’s why we have taken steps to improve the flow of information in times of disruption to enable you to get the information you need, when you need it.

We have a dedicated team devoted solely to improving the way in which information flows from our Control Centre to you, the passenger. The team is responsible for making sure that all forms of communication, whether by electronic or human interface are improved and used to maximum effect. 

Approved Code of Practice (ACoP)

Feedback from our customers consistently tells us that the flow of information about train services that are experiencing disruption is a priority for them and is an area we need to focus on more strongly.

As a result, ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) have produced an Approved Code of Practice that sets out high-level guidance about generic good practice in the provision of information to customers during disruption. It provides individual operators with a framework that they can adapt according to local circumstances.

You can view the doument below.

PDF Approved Code of Practice (313KB)

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What’s New?

So what have we been doing lately to improve the flow of information to you?

Customer Action Teams 

 These teams comprise volunteers from within our business who have been briefed and trained in assisting with customer service and how they can best help out at stations during disruption and severe weather. These teams are deployed to key station where there is a potential for crowding. They are there to assist you with information and practical help.

Announcing Guides for Customer facing employees

These have been developed for our Conductors, Drivers and Station Staff to ensure, quality and consistency when announcements need to be made. They ensure that the same message is given without the risk of misunderstanding or erroneous information being given.

Technology for our staff

We recognise that there is nothing more frustrating than us advising to talk to our staff when they don’t have the information you need. In the past, our staff had to rely on being told by their manager what was happening and apart from this being an inefficient way of feeding information down the line, it was rather hit-and-miss and could lead to misunderstandings. To make this a more instant, consistent  and far-reaching process, our station staff and train conductors now have access to technology which helps them to help you more efficiently and effectively. Now, only the information which comes from our Control Centre reaches our staff who in turn are able to give you the information they have been provided with. Just occasionally, we are unable to provide information if we are not in possession of it ourselves, but please be patient and be assured that as soon as we have the information, it is passed directly to our staff.

Training for our staff

We can’t expect our staff to give you the best possible levels of customer service in times of disruption if we don’t train them properly. All Customer facing staff have received training on their role during disruption. We have also introduced a document we call the Service Disruption File which enables staff to understand what is expected from them in times of disruption, from displaying posters to assisting vulnerable people. The file also includes a series of checklists that ensure they do everything they need to do to make handling disruption as smooth as possible for passengers.

Temporary Timetables

These have been developed for times of extreme weather. If we are unable to run our usual service, we will post these on our website at 16.00 the day before so you know exactly what timetable will be operating the following day.

Disruption Mode on Customer Information Systems

During severe disruption, on our Customer Information displays at stations, we will now only show trains that are actually running. Until now, we have been unable to take trains out of the system, leaving you with information that isn’t particularly useful. You need to know if your train is cancelled of course, but the last thing we want is to raise your expectations by displaying trains as running that are not. With the new system in place, you will only see what you can expect to arrive at your station. This concept also extends to our station announcements.

One feed – one message

It makes sense to have the same information in more than one place. This hasn’t always been the case – particularly when our website is saying one thing and the National Rail Enquiries website is saying something different. We have now taken steps to ensure that the information on the Southern and National Rail Enquiries websites are consistent.

On-Train Announcements

If you are on one of our trains and you come to a stand, you should expect an announcement from either the Conductor or the Driver after two minutes giving you the reason for the delay. This may be a fairly comprehensive explanation of why you are delayed, or it may be that you are being held at a red signal for an unknown reason. Either way, you should expect an announcement after two minutes have passed.

What are your Options?

Sometimes a station has to be closed, or trains are unable to call at the station. If this is the case, you can look at Onward Travel Maps posted at the station to help you identify other options for getting to your destination. These posters include maps of the local area with bus stops and taxi ranks marked, local bus routes and times and details of how to contact other transport operators. If you’re at a staffed station, don’t forget to ask a member of staff for information to help you make your choice.

Giving information is a two-way street. We can measure how effective our processes and procedures are but that only really tells half the story. We only know how well we do it and how meaningful it is when you, the passenger tell us. We’re always looking for ways to do things better, so if you have a comment or suggestion about the way in which you get information from us, please feel free to contact us using our online comment form or e-mailing us at comments@southernrailway.com.

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