LETTER: Rail journey was a disaster

With reference to the editorial comment in the Eastbourne Herald relating to rail travel to London from Eastbourne [‘Let’s get rail service back on track’]. On the Saturday prior to Christmas I had a meeting to attend in London, which was due to commence at 11am, to enable people attending from some distance to get there for the start. As the meeting was in the Leicester Square area, I decided that by catching the 08.30am train from Eastbourne I would arrive at Victoria at 10am, being a limited stop service, and giving me an hour to find the venue as I was not familiar with that area, with three changes on the Underground. When the train arrived at Haywards Heath Station the overcrowded train waited and waited. After 15 minutes an announcement was made that the driver for the next half of the journey was travelling by train from London which was running about 15 minutes late. After a 20-minute stop we proceeded at a moderate pace to Gatwick. Passengers scrambled aboard, standing in the aisles with their suitcases. The doors closed behind them and then came an announcement that the train would be going to London Bridge Station, and would only be stopping at East Croydon. The doors duly opened to let many of the passengers who had just boarded fight their way out of the train. On arrival at London Bridge I had to consult the Underground map to ascertain how now to get to Leicester Square Station. I eventually arrived at my destination an hour after the meeting had commenced. On my return I had envisaged catching the 5.13pm train to Eastbourne. Out of interest, just to confirm the platform number, I discovered that the train was due to depart earlier than printed in the timetable booklet, and I had three minutes to make the long walk to the platform. I just managed to get into a crowded compartment for the journey home. The train travelled at snail’s pace to East Croydon where a number of passengers alighted and I was able to get a seat. At Haywards Heath the train divided with the front part going to Littlehampton, although all in-train information showed that all of it was going to Littlehampton. It was only on the rail station loudspeaker that we heard the rear four coaches were terminating at Eastbourne. The train eventually arrived at Eastbourne at 7.30pm, for a journey scheduled to take one hour and 20 minutes. Despite the rantings of passengers and our politicians, with insufficient rail track and platform it is not inconceivable that in future trains will terminate at East Croydon and passengers will have to use the local services to get to London termini.

Peter J Barker

Windermere Crescent

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