Southern Railway communication failed passengers in East Sussex badly

From: Martin Woodfine, On behalf of SHRIMP, St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement, Silverstone Court, St Leonards

Rail passengers on Southern will be rightly dismayed at the disruption to our local rail services on Tuesday, October 23 when the lines were blocked for some time near Lewes.

This was caused by problems from overnight track work. Whilst the root cause was outside Southern’s control, it is the reaction to such events that the public sees and judges. So the Hastings & Rother Rail Users’ Alliance (HRRUA) is currently working closely with GTR/Southern to clarify exactly what went wrong and how best to prevent a recurrence.

There are two major areas of concern. First, the existing arrangements for Southern tickets to be accepted on Southeastern services do not appear to have worked satisfactorily. Linked to this, Real Time information at Hastings and Warrior Square stations, both managed by Southeastern, was unacceptably slow to react to the cancellations and delays.

This breakdown in inter-operator communication was repeated on Monday morning (29th) so needs to be addressed as a general issue rather than a specific incident.

The second is the vulnerability of Marshlink services to incidents away from their operational route, in this instance the rolling stock for some services was unable to journey from its remote base in South London. This has been and will remain part of an on-going discussion with GTR/Southern over the robustness of the Marshlink operations. The HRRUA has developed excellent working relationships with both rail companies and remains determined to ensure that the innovative May 2018 timetable really does give our communities full value for the additional trains and capacity now operating along the East Coastway and Marshlink routes.