MPs call for buses to run during rail strike

MP Huw Merriman outside Bexhill Railway Station, screenshot from his rail diary video
MP Huw Merriman outside Bexhill Railway Station, screenshot from his rail diary video

MPs Huw Merriman and Amber Rudd are calling for rail replacement buses to be put in place during next week’s strike.

The RMT union is due to hold a 48-hour strike starting Wednesday, September 7 in the ongoing dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) over plans for conductors to become on-board supervisors.

During previous industrial action, no Southern trains have served stations in Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill or Rye, leaving some residents completely cut off.

Hastings and Rye MP and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman have sent a joint letter to GTR managing director Charles Horton calling for rail replacement buses to be put in place to ensure commuters in Hastings and Bexhill have alternative means of public transport during the strike.

The letter states: “We note the industrial action which the RMT is taking on September 7 and 8. It will cause huge disruption for our constituents, at a time when many of them will be adjusting to new schools or returning to study or the workplace.

“The previous strike took place during the summer holidays, at a time when less passengers would have been attempting to make journeys.

“It was therefore understandable, albeit disappointing, that there was no bus replacement service between Bexhill and Eastbourne, Bexhill to Hastings, and only a limited replacement service between Hastings and Ashford.

“Without a replacement bus service, constituents have to pay more for their journey, are taken on longer journeys and may be unable to board a bus due to overcrowding.

“We are calling for Southern to provide adequate bus replacement services for our constituents in order to minimise impact of the industrial action.”

Earlier this week, Southern announced it will reinstate 119 daily train services previously stopped during the revised timetable - however, none of these services will be in Sussex.

Mr Horton said: “We know how difficult life has been for our passengers recently and we are sincerely sorry.

“We’re pleased that we can restore a large chunk of our train timetable for our passengers on this date but we will not be satisfied until the full timetable is running, and running in a punctual way people can rely on.”

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