‘Other options’ to ease crowded Hastings-Bexhill train

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Rail campaigners say there are other options to ease overcrowding on a rush hour train service.

Last week the Observer reported the concerns of a commuter about overcrowding on the two-carriage 8.09am between Hastings and Bexhill – a service caught by a number of pupils from St Richards.

Martin Woodfine of St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement (SHRIMP), which is part of the East Sussex Rail Alliance, said: “There is no doubt that the two-car service is unfit for purpose, capacity-wise, on certain journeys and this is a topic that has been repeatedly discussed with the train operator Southern, now part of GTR, by the rail campaign groups from Rye, Hastings and Bexhill.

“However, every two-car train is followed soon after by a four-car service with much greater capacity, although admittedly a slower service along the whole route – but not to Bexhill. Further, there is an agreement from St Richards School, brokered by Bexhill Rail Action Group, that pupils can use the later service without deficit to their attendance records. To widen this debate it should be noted that Southern have taken some remedial action to ease overcrowding, but only between Brighton and Eastbourne.

“Whilst a solution to overcrowding between Eastbourne and Ashford has been tabled by the operator, ie to split the service, this is disingenuous as it will not address our local capacity issues.”

He said campaigners were also concerned Southern produced its ‘rent-a-quote response’ about additional diesel stock.

“There are actually two options available, one of which – the VivaRail D-Train – while possibly not practical for the Marshlink line, has resulted in Southern investigating an alternative dual power-source for it’s electric four-car stock – a plan which is purportedly with DfT for funding consideration. Indeed, this proposal featured in Amber Rudd MPs most recent newsletter.

“SHRIMP agree totally it is not an ideal situation, but passengers with concerns can, in the short term, use a service with more capacity if this is practical to their usage. The only realistic long-term solution is to electrify the line between Ore and Ashford; the scheme to do this has been agreed in principle and has been repeatedly reported by local media.”

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