Campaigners fighting for improved services on an overcrowded rail route speak out against the "severe pruning" of the train service.

Last Monday (March 4), Transport for London announced that the weekday train service frequency would be halved, with a half-hourly service operating temporarily on the line starting on March 18.

The Barking Gospel Oak Rail User Group has spoken out against the new trains have been "bedevilled by endless problems" with "no prospect" of when they might be ready for passengers.

The group has further accused TfL of failing to provide adequate information about the interim service.

Campaign group secretary Glenn Wallis said: "TfL has known this was coming ever since January, when it failed to obtain a further sublease on the remaining diesel trains beyond 15th March.

"TfL has had long enough to plan for this, so why can’t they give passengers the information they need to plan their work, education and leisure journeys?

"Are TfL unaware that the line carries many low-paid passengers who work long hours and also at weekends. They need to be able to plan how they are going to get to work and get home afterwards?"

The group has written to TfL to find out about the first and last train times, Saturday and Sunday service intervals, any additional planned maintenance and replacement bus services.

It has welcomed the automatic refunds for regular passengers who are forced to divert via Zone 1 because of the service reductions and resulting overcrowding and further urges passengers who divert to other public transport routes outside Zone 1 and incur additional fares to also apply for refunds.

A statement released by the campaign group following the TfL announcement on Monday said: "At the time of writing, Barking Gospel Oak Rail User Group has written twice to TfL seeking the answers to these questions but has received no response.

"The TfL website is still advertising a normal service on 16th March.

"Barking Gospel Oak Rail User Group can see no end in sight for this intolerable situation.

"In spite of going through 30 versions of the Train Control Management System software, there is no sign that the Class 710 reliability is approaching anywhere near what is required for public service."

TfL's director of rail and sponsored services Jon Fox apologised for the continued delay in the arrival of the new trains.

He said: "We are very sorry for the continuing delay to the introduction of the new fleet of electric trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking line and share our customers' frustration.

"The manufacturer continue to solve software issues and we hope that driver training will start in earnest soon, which will bring us an important step closer to introducing the new trains.

"Regrettably, despite our efforts, we need to release the last three diesel trains currently being used on the line. So from Monday, March 18, we will need to temporarily reduce the weekday service to a half-hourly service."