Southern Rail Chief agrees to review train cancellation policy
The Managing Director of Southern Railway, Chris Burchell, has agreed to review the company's policy of cancelling stops on trains running down the Arun Valley line from Horsham.
Passengers have complained that late-running trains which are scheduled to stop at stations including Billingshurst, Pulborough and Arundel have suddenly been run fast, forcing people to get off the train at Horsham and wait for the next stopping service. The policy has infuriated commuters, particularly when they have received no notice of the cancellation and have had to wait for some time for subsequent trains.
Southern's announcement that they will "consider how we can better implement the plan" and review their "communications to passengers" came in a letter to Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert. At a meeting with Chris Burchell held at the House of Commons last month, Mr Herbert relayed the concerns of passengers about aspects of the service and strongly urged Southern to address them.
In a letter to Nick Herbert last week, Mr Burchell also said that he had "taken on board" the MP's "strong representations about delivering a reduction in fares" for Arun Valley passengers, and announced that following the meeting Southern had increased the quota of cheap off peak advance purchase fares to London Victoria.
However, he said that since the timetable change a year ago which saw trains divide at Horsham, Arun Valley fare increases had been below average, and he could not offer a guarantee to lower the overall fares. Mr Burchell also insisted that there would be detrimental consequences if the December 2007 timetable changes were reversed.
Commenting after he received the letter, Nick Herbert said: "I welcome Southern's review of their 'chuck-em off' policy which has so aggravated commuters, but I regret that the company has not been more apologetic about the quality of their service over the past few months, which has been unacceptable, and that it continues to show insufficient concern for commuters from Arun Valley stations.
"I hope that Mr Burchell really has taken on board the feeling which local people have about fare rises when the service has effectively been downgraded. I do not intend to let this matter drop."
Notes for Editors
1. For the website of the West Sussex Rail Users Association, visit http://www.wsrua.org.uk/.
2. For the website of Southern, visit http://www.southernrailway.com/.