LETTER: It’s all gone so horribly wrong

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The following letter has been sent to Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell:

Today ( Monday, November 7 ) was not a strike day on Southern Railways. I arrived to get the 16:01 from Polegate Station to Victoria. It was delayed. Then delayed some more. Then cancelled due to ‘no train’. This is a very usual procedure over the last six months, not giving passengers the opportunity to go on the alternative route via Brighton because they are waiting for the delayed train which never comes.

Then it was announced that the 16:41 would arrive but would be standing room only. I cannot and will not stand for an hour and 20 minutes on a packed and overcrowded train from Polegate to London. Would you ?

Then the 17:01 was cancelled. Thus my appointment in London had to be cancelled yet again and the £5-50 parking paid, thrown away.

There are TWO issues with Southern Railways and the question put to the PM last Wednesday did not make anything clear and led to a complete misunderstanding and therefore an unhelpful answer from her:

1. The current ongoing industrial action both on official strike days and on all other days too that results in a completely unreliable service.

One never knows when a train is going to run or not going to run until the last minute when it is very often delayed, then delayed some more and then cancelled due to ‘no train’ or ‘no driver’ or ‘no guard’. Both the RMT and Southern Railways are to blame and the Government has done nothing at all to help resolve this issue. Neither it seems have you.

People needing a reliable train service from Eastbourne to London have been abandoned, treated with disdain and contempt by the RMT, by Southern Railways and by this Government.

2. When the Southern Railways trains run on time, as per the normal timetable, ( not a new ad hoc timetable put in place to deal with the current industrial action ) the service is a disgusting disgrace.

The carriages are very often is a dire state of maintenance with the suspension such that one is thrown about in one’s seat all the time, throughout the long journey.

The carriages and seating are very often old and filthy dirty and the seats are old, badly worn and uncomfortable.

The new carriages where the layout has been changed from 2 + 2 to 3 + 2 are appalling and the new seat design is terribly uncomfortable. Has nobody noticed that generally people are not becoming smaller, they are becoming larger and that it is impossible to fit three people into a space where two could previously just about be squashed in?

Whilst writing this complaint, I am taking the opportunity to add two additional points which should not be taken as an opportunity to hide from or avoid the two main issues above:

Eating should not be allowed on the trains. I object having to suffer some vile smelling take away foods on our trains and the litter often left behind.

Putting feet on seats should not be allowed. I have never once, over many years, seen any guard or any other Southern staff ask a passenger to take their feet off the seats.

The question to the PM last Wednesday was taken to refer to the issue in (2) above and not in any way related to (1) above. Hence the answer from the PM was about additional funding being made available.

WHY cannot we get a proper answer from the Government as to how the current industrial action is going to be brought to a stop ?

WHY cannot we get a decent, proper functioning train service from Eastbourne to London ?

WHY do you refuse to help resolve this shambolic and disgusting state of affairs ?

WHY does nobody in Government care about the people in Eastbourne and the South Coast who have to use Southern Railways to travel to London ?

It was the Government, and a Conservative one at that, which created the present structure for the railways in this country and now that it has gone so horribly wrong it is surely up to the Government to put it right!

David Whitton

Upper Ratton Drive

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