County news: Campaigners call for help over rail issues

Southern Railways is at the heart of the issue
Southern Railways is at the heart of the issue

Campaigners are calling for help over issues with south coast trains being delayed or not operating properly,

The East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA) is calling on the newly appointed rail regulator Stephen Glaister and Louise Spellman MP, chair of the parliamentary transport select committee to step in to improve Southern’s performance.

In particular, the Hastings-London and Brighton-London Main Line as ERSA claims t Southern and the track manager Network Rail are performing so indifferently.

“Trains are too often massively late, do not stop where they are timetabled, or with no notice just do not run at all,” said ESRA co-chairman Ray Chapman.

“And too often there is no offered reason and no excuse.

“We are only too well aware though that there is insufficient funding for maintenance and renewal of track and signalling.

“That brings unpredictable failures. And that then interrupts rail services and the Southern train operator seems unable to communicate with passengers often stranded, heavily delayed, and utterly furious that the problems are becoming endemic.

“This is all before the January rise in ticket prices and the onset of winter disruptions.”

ESRA is putting together a ‘snap-shot’ dossier which apparently shows delays occur every day but these run up to a four-hour delay from Hastings to Victoria to outright cancellations due to staff shortages or crews being late arriving on incoming services.

Causes are more often signals and points failures, especially on the London-Brighton Line, into which Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne and Lewes connect for onward journeys to London.

In December alone, Southern achieved an ‘appalling’ record of non-arrivals to timetable.

“There is insufficient transparency in the public performance records,” Mr Chapman said.

“That is bad enough. For those having to connect for onward travel, that is nerve racking and undermines trust.

“For those masses commuting, fatigue and late arrivals cut into the productivity of the region.

“This is just at the start of the winter season so how bad is it likely to get? We hear very little of correction to the underlying problems.

“We want to know why and a robust action plan to bring an end to these woes completely.”

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