Bexhill mum-to-be fears husband will miss birth due to train troubles

Maxine Gilmore. Sidley. SUS-160628-161204001
Maxine Gilmore. Sidley. SUS-160628-161204001

A heavily-pregnant woman fears her husband could miss the birth of their first child because of daily delays on his commute home.

Maxine Gilmore says industrial action on Southern trains and cancelled services due to staff shortages are proving a huge headache for husband Mark.

Maxine, from Ringwood Road in Sidley, said: “It’s awful.

“The other night they cancelled his train home and he had to go down the other line, which is Southeastern, so I had to pick him up from St Leonards.

“It’s becoming a nightly occurrence.”

Mark commutes from Bexhill station to London Bridge and in the evening, he has to change trains at Hampden Park station.

However, because he is rarely able to make the connection, Maxine is often called to collect him from Hampden Park - almost a one-hour round trip from Sidley.

Maxine, who worked as a kennel hand in Laughton before going on maternity leave, says a lack of communication between Southern staff makes matters worse.

She said: “Normally they end up in Eastbourne and none of the drivers, conductors or platform staff know what train is going where and when and there’s no communication at all.”

And last Tuesday (June 21) Maxine was forced to drop Mark at St Leonards at 6am as there were no Southern trains running in or out of Bexhill station due to industrial action.

Maxine said: “I cannot sleep as it is and then I have to get up early to get him to the station.”

During some of the other 24-hour strikes, Mark has been forced to use up some of his holiday to avoid getting caught up in the train trouble.

Maxine, who is due to give birth in four weeks, says the situation is causing her stress and fears that the late services may cause Mark to miss the birth of the baby the couple had spent seven years trying for.

The 39-year-old said: “I think if I go in to labour and it’s a quick labour, will he be there?

“We have waited seven years for this, so it’s very special.”

Maxine said: “It happens pretty much every day - I cannot remember the last time he was on time.

“Mark’s complained a few times. He just gets the usual ‘we’re trying to improve the service’ and so on.”

Mark submits claims under the Delay Repay scheme - which offers refunds to passengers whose journeys are delayed by 20 minutes or more.

But as Maxine says: “When you pay £4,500 a year, it does not even touch it.”

A spokesperson for Southern said: “We understand and share the frustration being felt by our passengers at the moment.

“Unfortunately, we continue to experience a much higher level of conductor sickness and a reluctance by some train crew to take up rest day working.

“This is seriously compromising our ability to run a robust train service on a day-to-day basis and, as a result, we are still having to cancel trains each day.

“We apologise for the considerable inconvenience this is causing and can assure our passengers that we are doing everything we can to resolve the current situation.”

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