Chaos reigns on the trains after more landslips

The landslip at Wadhurst. Picture supplied by Network Rail
The landslip at Wadhurst. Picture supplied by Network Rail

FURIOUS passengers were left waiting for hours for rail replacement buses after another landslip in Wadhurst crippled the main train route into Hastings on Friday afternoon (January 17).

People were left stranded at Tunbridge Wells station in the cold in the evening, with tempers becoming increasingly frayed.

Stewart Harrington, of Reedswood Road, St Leonards, was one of the passengers trying to get home. He left London just before 4pm but did not arrive home until just after 9pm.

Trains to Hastings had to terminate at Tunbridge Wells because of Friday’s landslide.

Mr Harrington said: “I arrived at Tunbridge Wells around 4.45pm to be met with more than 100 people waiting for buses to Robertsbridge. We were given no information at all and continued to wait outside in the cold. It was a total joke.

“A coach eventually arrived and it was complete bedlam, with people pushing and shoving each other, arguments breaking out, and all because there was no control on where passengers should queue.

“I finally got on a coach at just gone 7pm. But when we finally got to Robertsbridge we were told there were no trains for at least another 45 minutes, so the coach went on to call at all stations to Hastings, except Crowhurst.

“I walked in my front door at 9.05pm, the longest it’s ever taken me to get home from London in the 18 years I’ve been commuting.”

The first landslip in Wadhurst happened in mid-December.

Ray Chapman, of East Sussex Rail Alliance, together with Hastings MP Amber Rudd, met with bosses from Network Rail and Southeastern this week and were promised things would get better for passengers.

Mike Gibson, public affairs manager for Southeastern, which runs trains from Hastings to Charing Cross, said: “Unfortunately bus operators do not have a fleet of buses on standby and this is particularly difficult during peak periods, which was the case on Friday afternoon.

“There was also a major road accident on the A21 which delayed buses even further. We apologise to all affected customers and understand it was an extremely problematic journey home. All passengers whose journeys were delayed by 30 minutes or more are entitled to compensation.”

Chris Denham, spokesman for Network Rail, said: “It has been a difficult time for passengers on the Hastings to Tonbridge line and we appreciate their patience.

“The landslip site at Wadhurst suffered more damage on Friday under torrential rain, which meant we had to clear debris from the track and reinforce the bottom of the cutting side.

“The deluge of mud also caused the signalling system to fail. We know how frustrating these past weeks have been for everyone and we are doing all we can to get things back to normal.”