Overcrowded Rye trains will become commonplace

Rye commuters SUS-141103-142710001
Rye commuters SUS-141103-142710001

AS Rye commuters continue to feel the impact from the Charing Cross line works the Marshlink Action Group has warned that overcrowding will become the norm.

Rail passengers facing long delays in trying to get to London have flocked to the Rye line to use the high speed link from Ashford.

But Marshlink chairman Stuart Harland warned, in the group’s annual report, that many would continue to use the Rye line even after the works on the Charing Cross line are completed.

He said: “In this topsy-turvy period, the problem we now suffer is overcrowding of our trains.

“This results from the MarshLink line being in a good state of repair, unlike the Hasting – London line with landslips and disruption anticipated over an unknown period to rectify the infrastructure.

“It is inevitable that rail users from Hastings and further west will want to use the service to Ashford to avoid the uncertainties relating to the Hastings – London line.

“It is unfortunate that the rolling stock wasn’t in place (and is unlikely to be in place for some years to come) to accommodate the many new users of the Marshlink line.

“As it is, many rail users ,particularly commuters, have seen the benefit of the route to central London via Ashford well before these issues arose and, even when the infrastructure on the Hastings – London line is repaired, will want to use the Marshlink service. So, unfortunately, we can expect overcrowded trains for many years to come.”

Mr Harland added: “Looking even further back in time, I’m sure we all remember the blockade of early 2012 which caused chaos for Marshlink line passengers.

“But, reflecting on the discomfort of that period, we must now appreciate that, without Network Rail’s work on the Ore Tunnel and at other points along the line that required upgrading, the Marshlink could now be suffering its own infrastructure problems like those now being experienced on the Hastings – London line.”

Mr Harland said members were also concerned about the number of services which had to be cancelled due to problems with trains.

He said: “Southern’s first response to any unit failure is to cancel the Rye Shuttle which, apart from other consequences on passengers, means that they loose faith in the Shuttle; this results in the Shuttle being generally avoided; resulting in an assumption by the train operating company that it isn’t wanted so it may as well be cancelled.

“Regrettably, no more diesel units are scheduled to be built so until we can get the line electrified we are limited to the existing rolling stock plus other units that become available from other lines as they are electrified.”

Representatives from Southern Railway and Network Rail will be present when the group holds its AGM at Rye Town Hall on Wednesday March 19 from 7.15pm.