Overcrowding is issue at rail meet

A REPRESENTATIVE from Southern Rail faced a barrage of questions on overcrowding when he attended the Marshlink Action Group’s AGM at Rye Town Hall last week.

Mark Stuchbury was quizzed on landslips on the Hastings to London line, which have forced users into taking the MarshLink to Ashford and then the HS1 to London.

MLAG chairman Stuart Harland said: “There are reliability issues with the trains.

“This has been a long-standing issue with only just the required number of units to operate the timetable with one unit spare for servicing so any unit failure results in timetable cancellations. He particularly recognised there had been cancellations of the Rye Shuttle.

Mr. Stuchbury emphasised the work that Southern does to maintain its rolling stock. But the units are now 10 years old and despite a good service program, there are breakdowns.

“This takes us back to the issue of the need to electrify the line, to enable diesel casualties to be more easily substituted from the large stock of electric trains surrounding our line.

“The reality is, however, that there are no more diesel units likely to be built in the UK, ever, and so, at best, we can only look forward to cast-offs from other lines as they are electrified.

“The situation is made much worse by the current works at London Bridge Station. These works will result in major improvements over time, but, meanwhile, services through London Bridge are likely to suffer disruptions over several years to come.”