Rye rail line operator Southern has come near the bottom of the pile in the latest National Rail Passenger Satisfaction Survey.
Southern was rated as third from bottom in a league table and South Eastern, which operates trains from nearby Ashford, was rock bottom.
South Eastern’s poor performance was largely due to the eight week closure of the Hastings to Charing Cross line due to landslips at Battle, Mountfield and Stonegate.
This had a knock-on effect on the Rye line with many commuters taking the alternative route, via Rye and the high speed train from Ashford. It lead to complaints of overcrowding on trains.
Stuart Harland, chairman of Rye rail action group MarshLink, cautioned against a kneejerk reaction to Southern’s poor performance .
He said: “Southern Railways operates a vast network beyond the MarshLink line and a large part of their services are on commuter lines and particularly services through London Bridge. So Southern deal with passengers with a great range of demands on their services.
“As chairman of an action group looking after the interests of users of the services, I hate to be an apologist for Southern: but it is necessary to be aware of the environment Southern works in. Many of their services have been and continue to be subject to infrastructure issues - these include the land-slippages early this year and (for over a year already and continuing a few more years into the future) the major works at London Bridge Station.
“ It is unfortunate that, as the operator rather than the infrastructure provider, passenger assessments of Southern may well be impacted by the effect of infrastructure issues.
“The MarshLink service has been reasonably good over this year although, again, the major problem we have encountered was infrastructure related, the knock-on effect of land-slippage on the Hastings - London line which took several weeks to restore with passengers diverting to the MarshLink.
“Our major concerns are to improve the service, things like the occasional cancellation of the Rye Shuttle which has a knock on effect making potential passengers arranging their schedule not being able to rely on the service being there; overcrowding on the line at times, particularly in the summer; some poor connections at Ashford, particularly on Sundays; there being, effectively, no Sunday service at the smaller stations when those towns rely on tourist trade.
“There is a need to increase the train frequency to two trains per hour (itself requiring substantial infrastructure changes and investment).
“With the Government’s recent awarding of a new and even bigger franchise to Govia (of which Southern Railways is only a part) we have to remain vigilant that this tucked-away part of the Govia empire is properly serviced and upgraded.”