Hooliganism on Southern trains

Hastings Observer letters
Hastings Observer letters

From: David Barclay, Godwin Road, Hastings

I would like to warn your readers of a recent spate of hooliganism experienced by those travelling on the last evening train from Hastings to Victoria.

Getting on the train at Lewes there will be a rowdy and drunken crowd of ladies and gentlemen dressed in dinner jackets and long dresses brandishing wicker picnic baskets who, one assumes, have been attending an opera performance at Glyndebourne.

The behaviour I recently experienced was far worse than the normal boorish behaviour of late-night carousing youths or football hooligans. These toffs seemed surprised that there were already passengers on the train and that it had not been reserved entirely for their own exclusive comfort and convenience. Consequently those of us passengers already on the train were treated with open hostility as if we were intruders at a private party, fixed with contemptuous stares, and poked, prodded and generally physically jostled and molested.

I still have sore ribs from being continuously poked by the sharp elbows of a woman intent on making my journey as uncomfortable as possible if I were not to move somewhere else.

What should have been a restful journey after a pleasant day in Hastings was made unbearable by continuous loud baying, drunken ribaldry, and arrogant, inconsiderate behaviour. One passenger, who obviously thought his fellows had literacy problems, spent most of the journey reading aloud in a high-pitched voice for the whole compartment to hear the opera programme notes.

The Southern Rail conductor, bless him, far from asking this unruly crowd to behave themselves and treat the other passengers with consideration, fawned all over them as he did his ticket inspection.

It seems that behaviour that would be considered reprehensible if it came from a group of high spirited local youths returning after a night out is considered socially acceptable if committed by the well-healed and those with a strong sense of entitlement.

I thought those days were long past, but apparently not.