County news: Rail users protest against Southern service
Hundreds of rail commuters have gathered at Brighton Station to protest against franchise operator Southern.
Tom Walters works for the University of Sussex and commutes from Chichester.
He said: “I pay £2,700 a year to travel 35 miles and sometimes it takes three hours.
“I have got a six-month old baby who I never get to see anymore. People have to go to work.
“We pay these people our money and our lives are effectively being ruined. As commuters what can we do? We have to start to do something.”
Sally Langridge lives in Burgess Hill but came to Brighton to protest.
She said: “I am here today as I pay over £4,000 a year to get to London and we’re not getting any kind of service whatsoever.
“Even if it’s delayed by 30 minutes you have to go cap in hand to get compensation.
“I am so hacked off that I have actually gone out of my way to come here tonight. I have just had enough. It is so difficult to have any kind of life.”
Alicia McWhinnie from Brighton is a freelancer and used to commute to London Bridge - she now works from home.
“I do not actually commute any more, but I know the huge impact this would be having on me if I did. I’m here on solidarity with the people who have to go through it.
“The management are using passengers as pawns in their dispute. They do really need to sit down and sort it out, as it’s the passengers who suffer.”
Kate Fisher lives in Brighton and commutes to London several times a week.
“I am a freelancer and I commute sometimes. Yesterday I got to work late, and it does not look good,” she said.
“It is so abysmal. If you want to get in before 10am you have to pay £50 and you don’t know if you will be on time. Someone should be held accountable.”
Responding to news of the planned protests, Lianna Etkind from Campaign for Better Transport said: “Passengers are rightly furious that they are paying over £4,000 every year for trains which are continually late, overcrowded or cancelled. Southern should be facing severe penalties for leaving thousands of passengers waiting on the platform time and time again. It’s unacceptable that the Government’s response has instead been to allow them to cancel thousands more trains a year.
“We need a more accountable and transparent franchising system that listens to passengers and has real consequences for rail companies who let them down.”
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