LETTER: Rail talk is hot air and no action

Keyboard SUS-160615-124004001
Keyboard SUS-160615-124004001

The problems on the utterly inadequate two-coach diesel trains that are now operated by GTR between Brighton and Ashford are obvious to all who use this service.

These are, ironically, the most comfortable and well laid out trains we see in Sussex – but at just two coaches it has been apparent ever since they were introduced that they are simply not up to it.

The overcrowding on these trains is a scandal, exceeded only by the total lack of will on anyone’s part in the rail industry to do something about it.

All the hot air of 20 years plus ago – the local benefits that railway privatisation would bring just in this area alone – electrification of Ore Ashford, restoration to twin track (an electrified two-track railway in the South East of England is as bog standard as you will see), a reopened West Marina station, a new one at Glyne Gap, a Willingdon Chord that would knock 30 minutes off Brighton, Gatwick and Victoria times and a reopened seven miles from Lewes to Uckfield (ludicrously opposed by our own Godfrey Daniel). Yes, all those benefits, all that hot air, all that rubbish, all adding up to zero, nothing done.

We now have a railway far, far busier, ever more in need of new and restored capacity – in so many cases, just putting back what was originally there, simple and straight forward jobs with no need for rocket scientists. Nothing done – if anything, we have gone backwards. The inadequacies of two coach trains on the Brighton Ashford service are so glaringly obvious, the solution equally so – and nothing done.

The hot air is still spouted of course, usually by some suave spokesperson from the Rail Delivery Group – a railway industry collection of people who, well, spout hot air and do nothing.

Ludicrously, most of the mileage covered by these diesel two coach work horses is over electrified tracks – till they get to Ore. Third rail electrification to Ashford and restoration to twin track is easy and obvious – and following recent eruptions of more hot air about direct trains from Bexhill via High Speed 1 to St Pancras – we are as we were. How ironic that a recent railtour using a Hitachi High Speed 1 train through to Brighton saw it unable to take the most direct (unelectrified) route via Rye.

As for the quick fix that is all you will get – the only one is to run a Brighton Hastings electric service using four coach trains with a cross platform connection at Hastings where the two car diesel will continue onto Ashford. This will alleviate some of the overcrowding and cut out much of the plain daft diesel train on electric track that we currently see.

Brighton-Ashford is fine – but not with the current rolling stock.

Just remember as you next set out to experience that sardine like journey on a Brighton-Ashford train –John Major’s very words as he extolled a privatised railway – we would have a network that would be ‘the envy of the world’.

Simon Stoddart

Queens Road


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