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NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2014

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 and membership renewals

Our AGM took place on Saturday 31st May and minutes of this will be available in due course. Your new Committee was elected at the meeting and the officers are: Chairman, Michael Cover (representing Bosham) and Treasurer/Membership Secretary, Trevor Tupper (also representing Fishbourne and stations between Nutbourne and Emsworth). The other Committee members are: Roger Leat (Bognor Regis), Jake Clausen (Littlehaven); Paul Brady  (Amberley), Valerie Webb (Pulborough), Moira Tracey (Crawley), Jane Cobb (Horsham), Peter Bulling (Barnham), Roger Keyworth (Chichester), Michael Gill (Arundel), James Marchant (Billingshurst), Nigel Denton (Littlehampton and Angmering) and Kevin Gordon (Website).  Nigel Denton is also our representative on Rail Future. A renewal form is enclosed/attached for those members who have not paid their subscriptions for 2014.

London Bridge redevelopment and August Bank Holiday timetable changes

There will be no Southern or First Capital Connect trains into or out of London Bridge between Saturday 23 August and Sunday 31 August 2014. A revised Southern service will operate across the network during this period. First Capital Connect trains will be diverted away from London Bridge between East Croydon and London Blackfriars. Southeastern services will operate as normal.

Southern has produced a booklet of its planned service by route between Saturday 23 August and Sunday 31 August and this should be available at stations or it can be downloaded from their website at:

http://www.southernrailway.com/download/31831.8/changes-to-southern-services-23-to-31-august/

The booklet shows only service intervals rather than specific trains. But looking at it, the services on our lines on Saturdays 23rd and 30th, and Bank Holiday Monday 25th August appear to be the normal Saturday service but with Horsham to London Bridge trains diverted to Victoria. On Sundays 24th and 31st August there will be a normal Sunday service. Between Tuesday 26th and Friday 29th August there will be essentially a Saturday service but with some variations to some of the early morning services. All Arun Valley services will run through to Victoria. I am sorry that I cannot be more specific and my advice is to check the Southern website for up to date information if you intend to travel in the morning peak.   

On Monday1st September, normal services will be resumed. At London Bridge, new platforms 12 and 13 will be brought into use and existing platforms 10 and 11 taken out of use. There will some timetable changes from that date. The only significant change affecting our lines will be the withdrawal of the 07.52 from Horsham to London Bridge from the existing timetable.

There will be a further blockade at London Bridge from Saturday 20th December to Sunday 4th January 2015. After that date no Thameslink services will serve London Bridge and all Southeastern services to and from Charing Cross will be unable to stop at London Bridge for a period of 18 months from 12 January 2015.  More about this, and December timetable changes, in our next Newsletter.

New franchise

The new franchise operated by Govia starts next month with the take-over of services currently operated by First Capital Connect. Southern services will come into the new franchise in July 2015. The new franchise will trade as Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) although the existing brand names will be retained for Southern, Gatwick Express and Great Northern. FCC will disappear and Thameslink will re-emerge and will be used for the new Siemens built trains that will start to appear in 2016.

There will be a major re-cast of the timetable in December 2015 and one of the proposed changes is to remove the Horley and Redhill stops from the Portsmouth/Southampton/Bognor services to and from Victoria with a reduction in overall journey times of around 5 minutes. Redhill will, instead, by Thameslink trains. There will be alterations to Brighton Mainline services with two Gatwick Expresses being extended to serve Brighton and with some reduction in journey times between London, Worthing and Littlehampton. New trains for the Gatwick Express are expected by the end of 2015.

The new Gatwick Express trains will be equipped with wifi. There are no plans to fit wifi to existing trains but Network Rail have plans to install lineside beacons that will eventually provide a wifi service on all trains. GTR plan to install wifi at 104 of their busiest stations. There are also plans to provide station staffing from first to last services at the 101 busiest stations on the GTR franchise, one of those mentioned specifically is Crawley. We hope that their plans will result in improved manning of ticket barriers at stations such as Chichester where barriers are often left open, even in the peak.

As the new Thameslink trains come into service, the existing class 319 trains used by FCC will be redeployed on lines being electrified from Manchester to north-west England. We are sure that Blackpool and other places will love them! Some of the FCC class 377/5s technically built for Southern and Southern 377/2s loaned to FCC will be redeployed to Great Northern services between Kings Cross and Kings Lynn and some will be returned to Southern. But nothing will come in the short-term and so we are stuck with the awful class 313s on the Coastway, probably to the end of the GTR franchise in 2021. Needless to say we will be pressing Southern and GTR to get these units of the Portsmouth to Brighton trains as they are totally unsuitable for this important inter-urban service.

The new franchise makes no mention of the provision of the so-called Arundel chord and, so far as we are aware, Network Rail has no plans for this chord. The chord would be a new line south of Arundel allowing trains to run directly from the Arun Valley line towards Worthing and Brighton. The chord would provide a faster diversion route when there are problems on the Arun Valley line as well linking, for example Worthing with Horsham. We see some value in the Arundel Chord and we will be pressing Network Rail to give it further consideration in a future planning period.

Over the past few years we have asked Southern to consider designating part of each 377 unit as a quiet area. We have made no progress and elsewhere in the UK existing quiet areas are being withdrawn as they have proved difficult to police. What do you think about this? Should we press Southern to look at provision again or are you content not to have these areas set aside for those who prefer not to be in earshot of mobiles and personal sound systems. Please let me have your views on this.  

Trevor Tupper
Membership Secretary


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