Rail service


Nick is deeply concerned about the state of the local rail service and the impact on his constituents of the new GTR/Southern timetable.   

Under the new timetable a raft of peak direct commuter services to London Bridge and Clapham Junction from Hassocks have been removed, increasing journey times.  Nick feels this is especially unacceptable when the village and surrounding area are facing a large increase in housing numbers.

On 22 May he had a meeting with the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, to discuss the impact of the changes, and has written to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, asking him to take "all possible steps" to restore rail services to his constituents as soon as possible, and in particular to review the new timetable as it affects Hassocks to ensure that peak time services are returned.

Matters have been made far worse by what Nick describes as the 'chaotic' and 'shambolic' introduction of the new timetable and Nick is keen to ensure that this situation does not continue over the summer.  The timetable changes were supposed to improve services overall, but in Nick's view they have "manifestly been abysmally planned and executed, and those responsible must be held to account for the failures".  

Nick welcomed the statement made to the House of Commons by the Transport Secretary on 4 June, announcing that there will be a special compensation scheme for passengers on affected routes and he applauded the Government's announcement of an inquiry by the independent Office of Rail and Road into the timetable changes.  He welcomed the Transport Secretary's assurance to the House that robust enforcement action will be taken against GTR if necessary, and Nick will fully support any such action, including the loss of the franchise: "No more excuses can be made for this company, which has completely lost the confidence of my constituents."

In addition, Nick takes the view that infrastructure issues (which before industrial action began were causing 60 per cent of delays) also needed dealing with by Network Rail.  The service became far worse in 2017 as a result of  industrial action involving strikes and an effective 'work to rule'.  This union action, over the introduction of driver-only operated trains, was wholly unjustified.  Such trains already operate safely across the national rail network.  Since their introduction on Southern the number of staff on trains has increased, not decreased, and no members of staff have lost their jobs or pay.

The Government has made substantial investment in the rail service.  The £6 billion London Bridge upgrade caused significant disruption while work took place, but will improve services.  In January 2017 the Government announced a £300 million package of improvements to boost the resilience of the infrastructure on the Southern and Thameslink railway networks, to be delivered by Network Rail.  The Government has also put in place measures to make the operator and track work together more effectively, and in November 2017 announced that the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, which is currently held by GTR, will be broken up in 2021.

However, Nick's view is that further reform is needed, and that rail lines in Sussex need major new investment to meet rising demand and improve old infrastructure.  The number of passengers on Southern's lines has doubled in just a decade.  Local people deserve an accountable rail service that is fit for purpose.


Latest Actions

Letters sent in response to Nick's actions

Nick has also been sent letters about the rail service by the Transport Secretary, the Chief Executive of GTR and the Rail Minister. You can read these below: