WHEELS are in motion to bring back withdrawn National Express coach services from Hailsham to London.
The campaign, which has been spearheaded by Hailsham town councillor Barry Marlowe, calls for National Express to reinstate the discontinued early morning and evening return services from Hailsham to the capital.
It has seen a number of supporters come on board, including Tesco in Hailsham, which has agreed to host the petition in its North Street store.
Under the current 024 route from Eastbourne to London Victoria, there is only one daily journey from Hailsham to London departing from Eastbourne at 10.30am and arriving at 1.20pm – not allowing enough time for passengers to make their onward connections.
Cllr Marlowe’s petition hopes to persuade the coach company to reinstate an early morning 8am service which would arrive in the capital at 10.50am, as well as a later service departing London at 6pm, giving travellers more than seven hours in London.
He said, “The reintroduction of this service would greatly benefit people living in the towns along this route.
“The ever-increasing cost of rail fares and the high price of petrol now more than ever show coach travel as a very good option, especially for day trips.”
John Lambert, 61, was a former driver on the coach from Hailsham to London.
He told the Gazette he did not understand why the service had been discontinued.
“It was very well patronised,” he said. “We used to get a lot of Saga people coming down.
“It was very popular, especially in Hailsham where it was the only means of transport that provided a direct route to London. It also used to go via Gatwick.”
Jeanette Hepworth, owner of J&R News in Hailsham, said ticket sales on the service had dropped by more than 50 per cent since the earlier services were withdrawn.
“People used to regularly use it to visit their relatives in London,” she said. “A lot of the people who used the service were elderly people who don’t drive and don’t have a lot of money.”
A National Express spokesperson said, “We are really pleased people are looking for an extra coach service.
“This particular service last ran in 2005 and so to reintroduce it we would need to carry out a thorough review.
“We are in fact about to embark on a wider review of services across the country and we will consider this request as part of this activity.
“This will take a few months to conclude reviewing a number of factors such as the number of people who we would need to use it on a regular basis.”
Passengers can now sign the campaign at Tesco in North Street, Hailsham, J&R News on Hailsham High Street or on-line at www.barrymarlowe.co.uk