MP meets Brighton line passenger groups
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert met with Brighton line passenger representatives on Friday (23 January) to discuss local rail services.
The MP wanted to hear about issues affecting Hassocks commuters ahead of his meeting with train operators and the Rail Minster next week.
Mr Herbert met with Shelley Atlas, Chairman of the Brighton Line Commuters Group, and Catherine Cassidy, Chairman of the Hassocks Amenity Association Rail Group, to discuss the frustrations being experienced by local rail users, especially since the New Year.
Services on the Brighton Line have deteriorated since timetable changes were made at the beginning of January to deal with reduced platform capacity at London Bridge station during its £6 billion upgrade.
However, performance has been declining for some time and rail users have become increasingly irritated by the problems.
Catherine Cassidy told Nick that the Govia Thameslink timetable consultation, run in October, was inadequate and poorly communicated. She said it failed to address the needs of local people using the rail service for travel between home, work and schools.
Key local train journeys between Hassocks, Brighton and Burgess Hill have now either been downgraded or removed altogether. Other commuter services between Hassocks and London Bridge have also been subject to changes and for many this now means a far longer journey each day.
Evening services from Brighton to Hassocks have been downgraded resulting in fewer trains stopping at Hassocks, connections from the West Coastway trains to Brighton services which stop at Hassocks are poor, and the train from Hassocks will no longer be stopping at Burgess Hill between 16.14 and 17.36 from this week.
The first three weeks of January saw a number of service disruptions and delays. There were different reasons for the causes of each disruption, but often they resulted in train services not running directly to Hassocks station and requiring passengers to change trains at short notice.
Catherine Cassidy said: “Nick listened to the problems faced by Hassocks rail users following the change to the timetable at the beginning of January 2015 in response to the London Bridge works. He undertook to take these concerns to the Transport Minister on behalf of local people.
"We are very grateful to Nick for stressing the importance of local train services and how vital they are to local travellers for daily journeys in the debate over improved performance on the Southern and Thameslink Network".
Mr Herbert confirmed that he had received a growing volume of correspondence from his constituents about trains in his constituency and was concerned to learn that people are experiencing regular disruption to services.
The MP met the Rail Minister, Claire Perry, last month to raise his constituents' complaints. The Minister said that performance across parts of the Southern and Thameslink franchises had not been up to the standards that passengers rightly expected.
Following a meeting between Department of Transport officials and the Office of Rail Regulation, the industry is working together to develop an action plan to improve train performance and this will be presented at a summit meeting with MPs at the House of Commons next week.
Chaired by the Minister, the meeting will include the senior management of Southern and Thameslink (GTR), Network Rail, the Office of Rail Regulation and Department of Transport officials who are responsible for the franchise and will discuss where immediate and deliverable changes can be implemented.
Nick Herbert said: "I welcome the Minister's rail summit meeting next week where I will again relay the concerns of my constituents about the service on the Brighton mainline. I want to ensure that the large number of people who use Hassocks station have a voice."
"I looking forward to hearing from those for the service how they propose to make improvements to deliver the reliable service which passengers deserve."
1. Photograph 1 – Left to right – Nick Herbert MP, Shelley Atlas, chairman of the Brighton Line Commuters group, and Catherine Cassidy, chairman of the Hassocks Amenity Association rail group.
2. To read Nick’s news ‘MP takes rail concerns to Minister’ see http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/584/mp-takes-rail-concerns-to-minister.