MP welcomes reinstatement of school rail service

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed Govia Thameslink Railway’s decision to reinstate the 08:28 train service from Wivelsfield to Hassocks as part of its new ‘interim’ timetable introduced this week, from Sunday (15 July). 

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The timetable changes introduced in May had been disrupting the start of the school day for around 130 students from Downlands Community School who travel between Wivelsfield to Hassocks.  The revision gave them a choice of only two trains, one of which meant that pupils arrived in Hassocks far too early for school, while the other arrived too late.   Both journeys have also required a change of trains.

After Downlands’ Head Teacher, Mark Wignall, raised the problem with Mr Herbert, the MP took up the issue with the Chief Operating Officer of GTR, Nick Brown, asking him to review and to restore the service.

Now the 'intertim' timetable which was introduced on Sunday provides a direct train service which will get students to school on time.

In a letter to Mr Herbert dated 6 July, Yvonne Leslie, Senior Stakeholder Manager at GTR said: “I am sorry to hear that children from the school have been experiencing difficulties with the service between Wivelsfield and Hassocks.

“We fully understand that passengers, especially school children, need more certainty and we have been working hard with Network Rail to introduce changes to bring stability to the Thameslink service.  The aim has been to have fewer unplanned cancellations, allowing passengers to arrange journeys with greater confidence.  Unfortunately, in order to help this process, some services have been taken out of the timetable temporarily and this includes the 08:28.

“We plan to introduce a new ‘interim’ timetable from Sunday 15 July and I can confirm that the 08:28 is in this timetable …  I appreciate that this will be close to the school end of year but I hope that this helps in the final days of term.”

However, direct peak services from Hassocks to Clapham Junction have not been restored in the interim timetable as commuters had hoped.

Mr Herbert said: “I am glad that GTR have made this amendment to their interim timetable after I raised this issue on behalf of Downlands school.

We will have to see whether the interim timetable, introduced this week, will provide the more stable service which passengers have been promised.  In the meantime, I will continue to press for direct peak-time services from Hassocks to Clapham Junction to be restored.”

Last week 281 trains were cancelled at Hassocks, meaning that nearly 2,400 trains have been cancelled at the station since the new timetable was introduced on 20 May.

Last week Mr Herbert once again met John Halsall, South East Route Managing Director of Network Rail, and Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of GTR’s, in Parliament to discuss the disruption.



1.    To read the letter to Nick Herbert MP from Yvonne Leslie at GTR see here:

2.    More information on GTR/Southern’s ‘interim’ July timetable can be found here:

3.    To read everything that Nick has been doing on local rail issues, see