Direct trains from central London to Mill Hill East Tube station will not run during off-peak periods from October, it has been revealed.

As part of London Underground's (LU) plans to improve reliability on the Northern Line, a new 'shuttle service' will operate between Mill Hill East and Finchley Central from October 15 on weekdays between 10am-4pm and after 7pm. Weekend and peak services will remain as they are.

During off-peak hours there will be 16 trains per hour travelling from central London to High Barnet station an increase from 12.

During these hours there will be a service between Mill Hill East and Finchley Central every 15 minutes the same as now.

John Turtle, vice-president of the Mill Hill Preservation Society, said: "With the increasing population in the area it seems almost perverse to cut a direct line into town. It's going to add an extra change onto your journey."

London Assembly member for Barnet, Brian Coleman, believes the shuttle could be the prelude to stopping peak services to the station from central London. "The next stage may be the closure of the branch completely ," he said.

A spokeswoman for LU denied this was the case and added: "The Northern Line is our biggest challenge, but we are working hard to deliver a safe, reliable and clean service, every day."