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Last updated: 17:01

Trains and train service

Got a question about trains and our train service at Southern? Find the answers here...

Where do you operate?

Our services cover routes in south London, between central London and the south coast, through East and West Sussex, Surrey and parts of Kent and Hampshire

See our route map

What information about my journey can I find at your stations?

You can see poster-sized timetables at every station and get pocket-sized versions from the ticket office. We also put up posters warning you in advance when engineering work is coming up, and how it will affect train journeys to and from that station.

At most of our stations you'll be able to see customer information screens on the platforms or concourses that give ‘live’ train time updates every two minutes. Some smaller stations have a help-line telephone.

Our station staff are there to help you if you need any information. They will keep you updated with announcements and you can speak to them if you have any questions.

If you need assistance, for example you have a visual impairment, please ask a member of staff for help with information about your journey.

What information do you give on trains?
Most of our trains have on-board information displays and play automated announcements. Our train drivers also make announcements during the journey if there are any delays.
What staff do you have on your trains?
Most of our trains only have a driver, but we also have on board staff to carry out ticket checks.
Are your trains accessible for people with disabilities?

All of our trains can be used by people with disabilities. We offer an assisted travel service if you need help at our stations to get the train – for example a wheelchair ramp.

Find out more about assisted travel

Get a copy of our Disabled Persons Protection Policy

Can I travel on the train with my wheelchair or mobility scooter?

Yes, all our train services can carry manual or powered wheelchairs, and mobility scooters, if they aren't bigger than:

  • Width 700 millimetres
  • Length (including footplates) 1200 millimetres
  • Weight (including passenger) 300 kilograms
What items can I take on your trains?

The National Rail Conditions of Carriage (the contract between us and you) sets out what you can and cannot take on to any UK train.

Read the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (see Part 2)

Can I take my bike on your trains?

If you have a folding bike, you can take it folded onto any train and at any time.

We can’t always accommodate non-folding bikes. You can bring non-folding cycles on many of our trains. But during the busy morning and afternoon commuting hours, space on board is at a premium.

You can't take a bike on rail replacement bus services.

Get more information in our bike policy

Can I take my pet on your trains?

Yes. You can take up to two domestic pets (dogs, cats and other small animals) on board our services subject to the conditions below:

  • All dogs must be kept on a short lead at all times, unless contained within an enclosed pet carrying basket
  • Any pet without a lead must be carried in a basket no bigger than 85 x 60 x 60cm
  • Whilst travelling on our trains, all pets including those in containers must be stored on the floor allowing empty seats to be used by paying customers
  • When boarding the train, where possible, dogs should be carried to avoid falling between the platform and the train
  • Should you, your pet or their lead become trapped in the doors, immediately use the passenger emergency alarm to contact the driver and get help
Why is my train overcrowded?

We run as many peak-time trains as we can on the railway infrastructure. We adjust our timetables and the number of carriages where we can to reduce overcrowding, and we’re continuing to develop and improve both our train fleet and our network to improve things further.

Trains can be busier than usual for a number of reasons. An earlier cancellation, for instance, will mean the next service will have more passengers than usual. Sometimes, trains have fewer coaches than usual because we’ve had to temporarily withdraw some carriages for emergency repairs.

See which peak-time trains are most likely to have seats available on our routes in our guide to finding a quieter train.

How do you try to help pregnant customers get a seat if they need one?

Our trains have specially designated priority seats for customers that have a greater need to sit down than others.

Priority seats can be used by anyone, but passengers sitting in them should give their seat up if they’re needed more by other passengers with disabilities, expectant mothers, elderly passengers or those carrying infants.

Because someone’s need for a seat may not be immediately obvious to other customers, we have a Priority Card scheme.

Not everyone is comfortable with asking other passengers to give up their seat and explaining why this is necessary. The priority seat card is designed to avoid any embarrassment in this situation.

The card is available through our assisted travel team and can be used on any Great Northern service. We’ll send you a ‘Baby on Board’ badge at the same time if you need one.

How the Priority Card scheme works.

Do all of your trains have First Class?

No, not all of our trains have first class seating on them. You can look on our timetable to see if first class is available on your train – it's shown in the facilities row with a number 1.

You can also call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 to check or visit

I've paid for a first class ticket but there are no seats left – what can I do?

If you have a first class ticket but there are no first class seats available on your train, you can claim a refund of the difference between the first class and the standard class ticket for the relevant part of your journey. To claim your refund apply using our simple online form.

If a train is exceptionally busy the conductor may decide to ‘de-classify' first class. This is unusual because we respect that you have paid a premium for the first class service.

If your train is de-classified, please submit a claim for the difference between a standard and First Class ticket via our simple online form.

You need to do this within 28 days of the journey concerned.

Can I sit in first class if there are no seats in standard?

No, you can only travel in first class with a valid first class ticket. We regularly check tickets on board our trains and you may have to pay the difference if you do not hold a first class ticket. You might also be charged a penalty fare.

If a train is exceptionally busy the conductor may ‘declassify’ first class, making those seats available for standard ticket holders. This is unusual because we respect that passengers have paid a premium for first class.

In exceptional circumstances you may be able to sit in first class with a standard ticket if you have permission from one of our on board staff.

I have a first class ticket and my train was 'declassified'. Do I get a refund?

If a train is exceptionally busy our on board staff may decide to ‘de-classify' first class. This is unusual because we respect that you’ve paid a premium for the first class service.

Our on board staff are unlikely to de-classify if some standard class ticket holders are standing, but it becomes more likely as the number of those standing increases.

If your train is de-classified, please submit a claim for the difference between a standard and First Class ticket via our simple online form.

You need to do this within 28 days of the journey concerned.

What should I do if I feel unwell on a train?

If you or another passenger feels unwell on one of our trains, the safest thing to do is to wait until the train stops at the next station and to seek help there.

You should avoid using the emergency stop button unless it's essential. Emergency services will be able to get to you much faster at a station than on a train stopped on the line. Many of our station staff have first aid training and will be able to assist.

Where can I find wheelchair space on your trains?
All of our trains have specially designed wheelchair spaces. On the majority of our fleet these spaces are close to accessible toilets and feature accessible passenger alarms. The spaces are normally situated in the centre carriages within standard class accommodation and are easily identified by markings on the outside of the train. For further guidance regarding accessibility of our trains please contact our Assisted Travel team.

My question isn't here...

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