HOME NEWS CAMPAIGNS INFORMATION COMPLAINTS CONTACTS FAQs

NEWS

NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2016

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

Update 10 August

Talks between GTR and the RMT union are to be resumed and the GTR has called off their strike for tomorrow (Thursday 11 July) and Friday. It is too late to revise the strike timetable for tomorrow although there may be some additional services after the planned shutdown at 18.00 (see Southern website for this). The temporary timetable introduced on 11 July will apply on Friday.

RMT 5 day strike Monday 8 August to Friday 12 August inclusive

Southern has been advised by the RMT Union that its conductor members will strike from 00.01 on Monday 8 August until 23.59 on Friday 12 August. This will have a significant effect on Southern services on the whole of the days affected, with no service on many routes and only a limited service between approximately 07.30 and 18.00 on others. Queuing systems will be in place at many stations that are open so you may have a long wait before you are able to board a train. Unfortunately Southern cannot guarantee to get you to your destination. All information below is subject to change and you should re-check here for the latest information before you travel. The reduced service shown will operate all day on the dates affected. Trains on many routes are expected to be extremely busy.

It is expected that no Southern trains will operate in either direction on several routes including: Clapham Junction to Milton Keynes via Kensington Olympia; Dorking to Horsham; Preston Park to Hove; Chichester to Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central; Redhill to Tonbridge. Earlswood, Salfords and Faygate stations will not be served. A limited service will operate in both direction between approximately 07.30 and 18.30 on 5 routes. London Bridge to East Grinstead; Three Bridges to Chichester via Horsham; Three Bridges to Victoria via Gatwick and Redhill; Brighton to Bognor via Littlehampton; and Brighton to Eastbourne via Lewes.

A timetable of these services is provided on the Southern website at http://www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/strike/. These trains are expected to be extremely busy and Southern cannot guarantee there will be space for you to travel. Southern strongly advise you to travel outside peak times where possible. They also advise you to avoid planning to travel on the last trains of the day - if you are unable to board services they will not be able to arrange alternative transport. Please note that the last trains of the day on the above routes are at approximately 18.00; or even earlier where your journey requires a change at either Three Bridges or Brighton.

The timetables are similar to those for the strike days earlier this year and show that there will be a train every 30 minutes along the Arun Valley from Three Bridges to Chichester calling at all stations and starting around 0630 and ending around 1800. These trains connect with a Southern service running between Three Bridges and Victoria as well as with Thameslink services that are not affected by the dispute. Along the West Coastway there will be a train every 30 minutes between Brighton and Bognor via Littlehampton. This connects with the Chichester to Three Bridges trains at Barnham. There will be no direct trains between Littlehampton and Victoria via Hove, so a change of train at Brighton will be necessary for those travelling from stations between Littlehampton and Hove. I have tried to simplify the Arun Valley timetable with its onward connections into the table on the next page and I hope you will find it helpful. But remember to keep your eye on the website in case there are last minute changes.

ASLEF and TSSA balloting for strike action

To add to passengers woes, the drivers’ union ASLEF is having a third ballot (the first two were ruled as unlawful by the Courts) for strike action on Southern and Gatwick express about the changes in the roles of drivers and conductors, as well as aspects of the temporary timetable introduced on 11 July. The Southern response to this is:

“Twice Aslef has tried to block our plans to improve the railway and twice the courts have ruled their attempts unlawful. Aslef members have been successfully operating this timetable for three weeks to deliver more reliable services for passengers and staff in the face of train crew shortages. To call a strike ballot against this timetable now is a cynical and desperate attempt to heap even more misery on passengers especially as we have met with Aslef on two occasions and have a further meeting with them next week on this specific issue. Passengers should remember that Aslef and the RMT signed a pact last year to fight any extension of driver-only operation tooth and nail. The news of this ballot comes at the very moment we are trying to find a resolution with the RMT at Acas and is premature and opportunistic.”

And on top of this, the ticket office staff union TSSA has announced a ballot of Southern and other GTR staff about the planned changes to ticket offices across the GTR network; The Southern response to this is:

“The TSSA union has announced that it is to ballot GTR ticket office staff over our plans to improve the customer experience at 83 of our stations. TSSA now seems to want to join the RMT in heaping more misery on our passengers. Balloting for industrial action over proposals which will see affected staff earn more, where jobs have been guaranteed and which will result in station staff being available for longer seems not only pointless but ridiculous. We trust station teams will see these proposals are good news for them and for passengers.”

Revised timetables introduced on Monday 11 July

The revised timetables, originally introduced for a 4 week period, will now continue on non-strike days until further notice.

Strike days timetable

Chichester       0653 0723   1723 1753  
Bognor Regis b   0620 0650 0720   1720 1750  
Barnham     0631 0701 0731 and 1731 1801  
Ford     0635 0705 0735 then 1735 1805  
Arundel     0641 0711 0741 every 1741 1811  
Amberley     0646 0716 0746   1746 1816  
Pulborough     0652 0722 0752 30 1752 1822  
Billingshurst     0658 0728 0758 minutes 1758 1828  
C. Hospital     0705 0735 0805 until 1805 1835  
Horsham   0641 0710 0740 0810   1810 1840  
Littlehaven   0644 0713 0743 0813   1813 1843  
Ifield   0650 0720 0750 0820   1820 1850  
Crawley   0653 0723 0753 0823   1823 1853  
Three Bridges Arrive 0701 0731 0801 0831   1831 1901  
    t t t t   t t  
Three Bridges Depart 0708 0738 0808 0837   1838 1905  
Gatwick Apt   0712 0742 0812 0841   1842 1909  
Redhill   0721 0751 0821 0850   1851    
E Croydon   0733 0806 0834 0901   1902 1924  
Clapham Junc   0747 0817 0848 0911   1912    
Victoria   0755 0824 0855 0918   1920 1951g  
London Bridge e 0817 0839 0917 0935   1935    
Blackfriars t or e 0820 0849 0909 0937   1951 1951  

Victoria       0709 0739   1703 1735 1809
Clapham Junc       0715 0745   1709 1741 1815
Blackfriars t or e   0633   0728   1658 1720 1740
London Bridge e     0712 0728   1659 1732 1759
E Croydon     0702 0727 0757   1720 1752 1827
Redhill       0739 0809   1732 1808 1839
Gatwick Apt     0717 0747 0817   1740 1817 1847
Three Bridges Arrive   0721 0752 0822   1745 1822 1852
      t t t   t t t
Three Bridges Depart   0726 0756 0826   1756 1826 1856
Crawley     0730 0800 0830 and 1800 1830 1900
Ifield     0732 0802 0832 then 1802 1832 1902
Littlehaven     0739 0809 0839 every 1809 1839 1909
Horsham   0713 0743 0813 0843   1813 1843 1912
C. Hospital   0717 0747 0817 0847 30 1817 1847  
Billingshurst   0723 0753 0823 0853 minutes 1823 1853  
Pulborough   0729 0759 0829 0859 until 1829 1859  
Amberley   0735 0805 0835 0905   1835 1905  
Arundel   0741 0811 0841 0911   1841 1911  
Ford   0747 0817 0847 0917   1847 1917  
Barnham   0852 0822 0852 0922   1852 1921  
Bognor Regis b 0802 0832 0902 0932   1902    
Chichester   0800 0830 0900 0930   1900    

b – change at Barnham; e – change at East Croydon; t – change at Three Bridges; g – change at Gatwick

The West Coastway timetable is an all stations service starting from Bognor at 0650, Barnham 0705, Littlehampton 0718, Worthing 0738 arriving Brighton 0804. The service is repeated every 30 minutes with the last train from Bognor at 1750 arriving Brighton 1904. In the opposite direction the first train is 0716 from Brighton arriving Bognor at 0832. The last one is 1746 from Brighton arriving Bognor at 1902 with a following 1816 to Littlehampton only.

Trevor Tupper
Membership Secretary


Network Rail overnight work means changes to Arun Valley weekday late evening services

Network Rail has started a programme of work on a 10 mile stretch of the Arun Valley Line to remove, clean and replace ballast. The work will take place overnight until August, (with a two-week break in June) but in order for the programme to be completed within the 18-week period, changes to late evening Southern services on the line will be necessary.

From Monday 4th April on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, until Monday 6th June, and from Monday 20th June until Monday 22nd August, the following changes to services will take place:

An additional train service will run as follows:

Another replacement bus service will run as follows:

Services on Friday and Saturday evenings are not affected by this work.


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