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NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2015

The Newsletter can be found below or you can download it in PDF format. For previous newsletters, please see the archive.

WEST SUSSEX RAIL USERS ASSOCIATION
64, Brampton Court, Stockbridge Road, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8PD
Tel: 01243 788028
E-mail: contact at wsrua dot org dot uk
Twitter: twitter.com/wsrua

Annual General Meeting

The AGM took place on 4th November. The minutes of the meeting will be posted on the website in due course. Our co-opted Chairman, James Marchant, who stepped down gave a brief report on his tenure and informed the meeting that there was one nomination for Chairman, Tony Cash, currently representing Christ’s Hospital. Tony was duly elected Chairman. Trevor Tupper reported that there had been no nomination for Secretary and that he was prepared to combine the roles of Secretary and Treasurer until the next AGM which should take place in May or June 2016. On that basis, Trevor was elected. Those members of the committee who were willing to stand were elected en bloc and they are: Paul Brady  (Amberley), Valerie Webb (Pulborough), Moira Tracey (Crawley), Michael Cover (Bosham), Roger Keyworth (Chichester and Barnham), Michael Gill (Arundel), James Marchant (Billingshurst), Anthony Fletcher (Horsham) and Kevin Gordon (Website). Trevor Tupper will represent West Coastway stations other than Chichester, Bosham and Bognor). Several of our stations are unrepresented and we are seeking asking members to represent Littlehaven, Ifield and Three Bridges. Nigel Denton is our representative on Rail Future.

David Scorey, Passenger Services Director, Southern Mainline and Coast addressed the meeting giving details of the rationale underlying the extensive off-peak timetable changes this December. (Details of these changes follow later in the Newsletter). He also gave details of the new stock on order for Gatwick Express being delivered in 2016 and the build-up of the new Siemens built 700 stock for Thameslink. He answered several questions from members on current performance, on-train announcements and uncomfortable 2+3 seating in some of our trains. On the last mentioned, he confirmed that all new stock on order would be 2+2 seating.

The Chairman thanked David Scorey and Eddie Toase, the Group Station Manager for attending.

Membership Renewal

Our membership year runs from 1 March and subscriptions for 2014-15 are now overdue. If you have not paid, a renewal form is enclosed. The subscription remains at £2 and can be paid by cheque, direct bank credit or by standing order, the renewal form gives details of all these options. A few have not paid their subscriptions for last year and rather than deleting them as members, we are asking them to pay for 2 years and for those members the payment slip shows £4. If, for any reason, you do not wish to remain a member of the Association, please let me know.

December 2015 Off-peak Timetable Changes

There will be significant changes to our off-peak services from 13th December but no further changes to peak services. The off-peak services include the services throughout the day on Saturdays. There are no changes to our dismal Sunday services despite pressure from your Association. 

The main change to the off-peak services is the removal of Horley and Redhill stops from those daytime off-peak trains running to and from Victoria to Bognor Regis, Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central. There will be a reduction in journey time of around 5 minutes in each direction together with removal of frequent overcrowding north of Redhill. In the down direction, the current 02 and 32 minutes past each hour from Victoria from 0902 to 16.32 will become 06 and 36 with no change to current arrival times south of Gatwick. There will be no loss of fast services to and from Redhill as the existing services from Tonbridge and Reigate to London Bridge will be diverted to Victoria running fast to East Croydon from Redhill. Horley and Redhill passengers will have two Thameslink services an hour on the trains currently running from Three Bridges to Bedford. Peak-hour and later evening departures from Victoria are unchanged with those leaving at 19.02 and later continuing to stop at Horley and Redhill. Although peak-hour services are unchanged, there will be other changes that should improve reliability of our trains. For example, the 17.32 from Victoria is frequently late because of conflicts with other services out of Victoria around the same time. These conflicts are being removed and this should improve the performance of the 17.32. 

In the up direction, the off-peak services will generally depart a minute earlier from most Arun Valley stations and arrive East Croydon, Clapham Junction and Victoria 6 minutes earlier than currently. There will also be a slightly faster service to Worthing and stations on to Littlehampton with the removal of some intermediate stops between Haywards Heath and Worthing. Timetable booklets showing the revised schedules should be available at stations and on-line shortly.

Christmas and New Year Services

There will be a blockade of all lines at Purley from 23.00 on 24th December to 04.00 on Monday 4th January and no trains will run between East Croydon and Redhill over this period. As usual, there will be no trains on the Arun Valley and Coastway lines on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

On Boxing Day, there will be a very limited service from Brighton to Gatwick Airport calling at Three Bridges. There will be replacement bus services from Gatwick and Three Bridges to East Grinstead connecting with a half hourly service to Victoria via Oxted. 

On Sundays 27th December and 3rd January there will be a normal Sunday service on the Coastway. On the Arun Valley line there will be two trains an hour from Brighton to Redhill via Littlehampton, Horsham and Gatwick. One of these trains each hour will have a portion from Portsmouth and Chichester and the other a portion from Bognor. Both trains will call at all stations from Littlehampton to Horsham. At Horsham the trains will connect into a half-hourly service running from Gatwick to Victoria via Horsham, Dorking and Sutton. Overall journey times will be 20-30 minutes longer than usual. In the reverse direction, the Gatwick via Horsham trains leave Victoria at 18 and 48 minutes past each hour, connecting at Horsham with the trains from Redhill to Brighton, Portsmouth (48 minutes past from Victoria) or Bognor (18 minutes past from Victoria) via Littlehampton. 

On Bank Holiday Monday 28th December and Saturday 2nd January there will be a Saturday service on the Coastway. On the Arun Valley line there will be two trains an hour from Brighton to Redhill via Littlehampton, Horsham and Gatwick. One of these trains each hour will have a portion from Portsmouth and Chichester and the other a portion Southampton and Chichester. Both trains will have a connection at Barnham from Bognor and both trains will call at all stations from Littlehampton to Horsham. At Horsham the trains will connect into a service running from Gatwick to Victoria leaving Horsham at 07.24 and then half-hourly via Dorking and Sutton. Overall journey times will be 20-30 minutes longer than usual. In the reverse direction, the Gatwick via Horsham trains leave Victoria at 17 and 47 minutes past each hour, connecting at Horsham with the trains from Redhill to Brighton, Portsmouth (17 minutes past from Victoria) or Southampton (47 minutes past from Victoria) via Littlehampton.  

On Tuesday 29th December to Thursday 31st December there will be a Saturday service on the Coastway. On the Arun Valley line there will be two trains an hour from Brighton to Redhill via Littlehampton, Horsham and Gatwick. One of these trains each hour will have a portion from Portsmouth and Chichester and the other a portion from Southampton and Chichester. Both trains will have a connection at Barnham from Bognor and both trains will call at all stations from Littlehampton to Horsham. At Horsham the trains will connect into a service running from Gatwick to Victoria leaving Horsham at 07.24 and then half-hourly via Dorking and Sutton. Overall journey times will be 20-30 minutes longer than usual. In the reverse direction, the Gatwick via Horsham trains leave Victoria at 17 and 47 minutes past each hour, connecting at Horsham with the trains from Redhill to Brighton, Portsmouth (17 minutes past from Victoria) or Southampton (47 minutes past from Victoria) via Littlehampton. There will be no through trains to London Bridge from Arun Valley stations including Horsham. Passengers for London Bridge will need to join the Victoria services and change at Sutton and Tulse Hill. Alternatively, they can travel by train via Crawley to Three Bridges for a bus to East Grinstead and then a train to London Bridge. 

I hope this is helpful. I have extracted all the times above from the National Rail website and I recommend that you look at www.nationalrail.co.uk if you need more specific information. Hopefully, our stations will display full details of their trains as Christmas approaches. 

We hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Trevor Tupper
Membership Secretary


WSRUA Response to Sussex Area Route Study and GTR December 2015 Timetable Consultation

WSRUA's response to Network Rail's Sussex Area Route Study consultation can be downloaded here in PDF format. The response to the GTR December 2015 Timetable Consultation can be downloaded here.

MP takes rail concerns to Minister

WSRUA's president, Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel and South Downs, met with the Rail Minister on 6 January to discuss services in West Sussex. You can read about it on his website.

Facebook

We now have a Facebook page at facebook.com/wsrua. Please “like” it if you want to keep in touch and contribute through that medium. 


MP appointed President of rail users group

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has been appointed President of the West Sussex Rail Users Association (WSRUA).

The voluntary group invited the local MP to take up the role in their Association because of his work to improve local rail journeys and as a regular user of the local services.

The West Sussex Rail Users Association was established to be a unified voice that represents the interests of rail users in West Sussex to ensure their needs are understood and met.

The Association has been campaigning for increased investment and significant improvements in rail services for West Sussex. It also works with the public transport sector and local authorities to establish an integrated public transport in the County.

Mr Herbert has urged Network Rail to consider constructing the Arundel Chord, a short piece of track that would enable trains to turn east below Arundel, providing a direct link between Horsham and Worthing. Following the MP’s request Network Rail have included the Arundel Chord in a broader Route Study which will be complete by the end of this year. The final document is expected early next year.

Michael Cover, Chairman of the West Sussex Rail Users Association said: “We are delighted to welcome Nick Herbert MP as our new President. It is a great honour that Nick has been able to take up this role and we very much look forward to working with him and other stakeholders, including the West Sussex County Council, to achieve better connectivity and faster trains for rail users up and down the Arun Valley and along the West Coastway.”

Nick Herbert, MP

Nick Herbert said: “Many of my constituents rely on the local rail service and I constantly raise issues on their behalf and press for improvements. We have recently seen better signalling installed on the Arun Valley line, and the major upgrade underway at London Bridge will make a huge difference to services in the future, but there are many ongoing issues about punctuality, cleanliness of trains and parking at the stations like Pulborough that need to be addressed.

“I was delighted to be invited to become President of the West Sussex Rail Users Association and I look forward to working with and supporting them to represent the interests of rail users.” 


AGM 2014

As notified in the May 2014 Newsletter, the WSRUA AGM 2014 was held on 31st May 2014. The draft minutes can be downloaded here; these will be presented for approval at the 2015 AGM. The Q&A session with our speaker David Scorey, Operations Director of Southern Railway is also included.


Arun Valley Resignalling

The Arun Valley resignalling finally commenced operation on Monday 17 March. All the mechanical signals along the line have been removed and replaced by modern colour light signals controlled from the Three Bridges Centre. The Billingshurst level crossing is also controlled from Three Bridges. The signal boxes at Billingshurst, Pulborough and Amberley have been taken out of use. The Grade 2 listed Billingshurst box has been removed for preservation at the Amberley Working Museum. The Pulborough box is being retained by Network Rail and the Amberley box, which is on the station has been boarded up as shown in the photo. We hope that a use can be found for this unique building.

Amberley Box closed for good


DfT Minister Promises More Of The Same

We have received a reply to our letter of 13 August 2013, which is reproduced below.

Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 4DR

From the Minister of State, the Rt. Hon. Simon Burns MP

Tel: 020 7944 3082, Fax: 020 7944 4492, Web site: www.gov.uk/dft

19 August 2013

Monica Edmonds, Chairman, West Sussex Rail Users Association

Dear Ms Edmonds

Thank you for your email of 13 August, to Norman Baker MP, about the Thameslink Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) rail franchise competition. I am replying as Minister of State responsible for Rail.

We are, as you observe, in the process of finalising the specification for this franchise competition, having reviewed all the responses received to the consultation we ran last year. Some of the items you have listed will be included in the specification and some will not.

In particular we will not be requiring the new franchisee to invest in new infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is best implemented by Network Rail, because NR is able to raise investment capital at cheaper rates than Train Operating Companies can, and is able to amortise the project over the lifetime of the asset, which is typically much longer than the average franchise length. Government priorities for Network Rail investment for the years 2014 to 2019 were published last year, and are available on the website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-level-output-specification-2012.

With regard to train services the specification will call for a service broadly similar to that which operates today, but will stress that this is the minimum requirement. Bidders are being encouraged to develop proposals for enhanced services where they can make robust cases for doing so. Tonbridge to Gatwick might be an example of such a service. We will, however, be specifying that Thameslink services must serve Horsham once the Thameslink programme is complete in 2018, and that they may run beyond Horsham if bidders can make a case for such extensions.

We will also be requiring bidders to examine critically all lines of expenditure, consistent with the Government’s intention to reduce the burden of railway operating costs on the taxpayer. It is unlikely (but not impossible), therefore, that bidders will plan to withdraw the class 313 rolling stock because this fleet is comparatively cheap to lease, and because it has recently undergone an expensive refurbishment programme.

We will be encouraging bidders to propose measures to improve the passenger experience. Such initiatives might include improvements to car parking arrangements or re-introduction of on-train catering facilities, but we will not be specifying any particular measures. The train operating community has greater first-hand experience of passenger requirements than Government so we do not believe that we should be prescriptive in such matters.

I hope this information is helpful.

THE RT. HON. SIMON BURNS


The Southern Franchise

Following the resumption by DfT in the franchise process we have written to Norman Baker MP the Parliamentary Under Secretary responsible for rail matters at DfT. Our letter informed him of the priorities and needs of users of the Arun Valley and West Coastway; the full text of the letter is on our Campaigns page. The letter was also copied to the six MPs whose constituencies we represent.  The priorities reflect WSRUA membership and rail user surveys in 2012 and 2013 and are as follows:

  1. Continued direct peak services from Southampton/Bognor Regis to London Bridge and a Chichester/Portsmouth direct service from London Bridge in the evening peak.
  2. Retention of and improvements to the current timetable, with a proper and identifiable pattern of semi-fast and fast/express services.
  3. Timetable improvements that are definitely required include:
    • Replication of the weekday service on Sundays so that Portsmouth to Victoria services use the Arun Valley and attach to Bognor Regis services rather than using the Brighton Main Line after attachment at Worthing. This will relieve overcrowding on the current services between Hove and Victoria and for passengers from Hayward’s Heath and Lewes,
    • Later evening trains along the Arun Valley and West Coastway to/from London and Chichester
    • Faster services with fewer intermediate stops between London termini and Bognor Regis and Chichester (e.g. Redhill and Horley stops removed) also restoration of the fast service between Portsmouth and Brighton to replicate the SWT service scrapped by DfT.
  4. An improved and simpler system of compensation for perturbation; including compensation for season ticket holders who bear the brunt of cumulative periods of low level disruption.
  5. A commitment to withdraw Class 313 rolling stock (now 40 years old) from the start of the new contract.
  6. A commitment to provide refreshments on all Arun Valley trains to and from London from the start of the new contract.
  7. Commitment to new projects including:
    • The Arundel Chord/Curve, to give new and re-established journey opportunities, such as Horsham-Brighton, Horsham-Littlehampton and Horsham-Worthing (to include reinstatement of platform 3 at Arundel Station);
    • Improved stabling and turnaround facilities at Chichester, including reinstatement of platform 3;
    • 90 mph where feasible along the Arun Valley.
  8. Thameslink services to extend to at least Horsham and possibly Littlehampton.
  9. Restoration of the through service from Tonbridge and Gatwick.
  10. Commitment to provide better car parking facilities at Horsham and Pulborough to improve accessibility particularly as rural bus services cease by 6pm (and in any event do not connect with trains).

WSRUA will be meeting all the bidders for the new combined Thameslink-Southern franchise over the coming months to raise their awareness of the potential for growth of the Arun Valley and West Coastway and of users’ priorities for the service. We have asked Michael Cover to take the lead on this will report further on the attitudes and aspirations of each bidder to rail services for West Sussex in future Newsletters and on the website. 


Extract from the Written statement on Rail franchising by The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP on 31 January 2013 announcing the decision about three live rail franchise competitions

When I cancelled the competition for the InterCity West Coast franchise last October, I also put on hold the live competitions for 3 other rail franchises. Having carefully considered the options for these 3 competitions, including the recommendations of the independent review by Richard Brown, Chairman of Eurostar, I have this morning informed the stock market of my decisions about these 3 competitions. I am also today publishing Mr Brown’s advice
about these competitions, having previously redacted it from his report in view of its potentialstock market sensitivity.

In summary, Mr Brown recommended that the government should look to continue the existing competitions for Essex Thameside and for the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. I accept those recommendations, and accordingly the competition for the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise will also be resumed, with an invitation to tender being issued to the existing short-listed bidders. This will be for a 7-year
contract term, again as previously announced. Consistent with Mr Brown’s recommendation, I expect this to be more of a management-style contract. This different approach will require more time to develop and test the proposition with the market, and I will set out the timetable for this competition in the spring.

In keeping with the relevant invitations to tender, which made clear that bidders are responsible for their own costs, I do not believe it would be appropriate to reimburse the bidders.

The existing franchises for these services will expire before new long-term contracts can be put in place, so interim arrangements will be required to ensure continuity of rail services. My department has exercised its contractual right to extend the current franchise agreement with First Great Western for a further period of 28 weeks, and I intend to do the same in respect of First Capital Connect.

I have also instructed my department to commence negotiations with the existing train operators (First Great Western, First Capital Connect and c2c) with a view to entering into new interim franchise agreements with them. For Essex Thameside and Thameslink, the period of these interim agreements will be determined by the time needed to complete the competitions for the longer-term franchises, and will not exceed 2 years.

The government continues with its multi-billion pound programme of investment in the rail network regardless of the delay to the franchising programme, and my department will seek to ensure wherever possible that the benefits for passengers previously sought in new substantive franchise agreements are not delayed.

I am mindful of my statutory duty to ensure the continuity of rail services and so, in parallel with my department entering into negotiations with the incumbent train operators, I will also be instructing Directly Operated Railways, a government owned company, to undertake the minimum preparatory measures necessary to operate train services in circumstances where I am unable to agree the terms of an interim agreement with the existing train operator.


Horsham Station Refurbishment – 19th November 2012

Norman Baker MP, Transport Minister opens the refurbished Horsham Railway station in the presence of the Mayor of Horsham District Council, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern Railways and others including WSRUA and the CRP

Norman Baker MP, Transport Minister, opens the refurbished Horsham Railway station in the presence of the Mayor of Horsham District Council, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern Railways and others including WSRUA and the CRP.

WSRUA Chairman with Chris Burchell, MD Southern Railway and Transport Minister Norman Baker MP at Horsham Station

WSRUA Chairman with Chris Burchell, MD Southern Railway and Transport Minister Norman Baker MP at Horsham Station (picture courtesy of Southern Railway).

Community Rail Partnership

WSRUA gave a brief presentation on our work and current activities at the Community Rail Partnership stakeholder event held on 1st November 2012 at Christ's Hospital School. A copy of the slide set is available to view here (PDF).


Eyewitness

Below is a Southern Press Notice about their Eyewitness initiative to deter and report low-level crime on the Arun Valley line. Your Association Chairman, Jane Cobb was at the launch on Arundel station and we will keep you informed of developments and progress in future Newsletters and on the website.

Policing And Criminal Justice Minister Launches Southern’s Eyewitness Initiative

Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, Nick Herbert MP has launched Southern’s internal Eyewitness initiative to the public for the first time at Arundel railway station.

Mr Herbert joined Southern senior staff, Rail User Group and West Sussex Community Rail Partnership representatives to launch a trial of Southern’s award winning low-level crime reporting system to passengers who use Southern services between Arundel and Crawley.

Eyewitness is a scheme which allows the reporting of low-level crime by e-mail. The system has been used successfully as an in-house system where Southern staff have e-mailed members of Southern’s Safer Travel and Revenue Protection Teams to report incidences of vandalism, anti-social behaviour and fare evasion. The system allows Southern to respond quickly where officers are in the area, and to identify patterns, trends and hotspots which enables more intelligent deployment of Rail Neighbourhood Officers and Revenue Protection Officers when detailing patrols.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr Herbert said: "I was delighted to help launch the next phase of Southern's Eyewitness scheme which will provide passengers with an effective way to report antisocial behaviour on trains.

"This is further action by Southern who already fund Rail Neighbourhood Officers to help tackle crime and provide a reassuring uniformed presence on trains and at stations. The scheme doesn’t replace police officers, it adds to them, and I believe it's welcomed by the public.

"The minority who can make rail journeys miserable for everyone else need to be dealt with, and I am pleased that Southern is playing its part."

Southern’s Head of Revenue Protection and Security, Martin Grier said: “Eyewitness has been a tremendous success since we introduced it internally 18 months ago. Now we look forward to even better results now that we are asking our passengers to tell us about low-level crime that they have seen.”

In the last 12 months, reported crime on the Arun Valley has fallen overall by 71%. At Billingshurst station, incidences of crime reduced from 28 last year to zero this year.

Passengers witnessing crime between Arundel and Crawley stations can report what they’ve see, where they saw it, when they saw it and a brief description of the offender(s) by sending an e-mail to the dedicated address found on posters at leaflets at staffed stations between Arundel and Crawley.

Photograph from Eyewitness launch at Arundel station


WSRUA News Archive