LETTER: Railway a pale shadow of what it was

A new national survey of 27,000 travellers by watchdog Passenger Focus finds that the lowest-scored satisfaction levels of railway service were Govia Thameslink and Southern (both 77 per cent) and South Eastern (74 per cent). The level of satisfaction would probably have been less if the survey had been restricted to East Sussex alone. Soon Govia and Southern are to be linked, which is a gloomy prospect for East Sussex passengers.

A major issue of concern is overcrowding. For many years, nearly all London-Eastbourne trains had 12 carriages, albeit that one of them was a Pullman or buffet car. Intermediate stops were made at East Croydon, Haywards Heath and Lewes. Now the trains stop additionally at Clapham Junction, the ever-growing Gatwick Airport, Wivelsfield and Polegate with some additional stops made as well. Unrestricted on/off loading is permitted at each point. Since the new generation of trains was introduced the trains have only eight or even four carriages - probably done to increase profitability. It was management folly. No wonder that so many trains are overcrowded. Longer-distance passengers to and from the Sussex coast have suffered discomfort for so long.

Belatedly, rail management has recognised the need to restore full length trains (e.g., the 17h22 London Bridge-Eastbourne train now has 12 carriages). But new trains are to be paid for mainly out of public funds - by the taxpayer.

A disgraceful example is the 16h16 Victoria-Eastbourne train which I find to be crassly overcrowded and which still has only four through carriages, The following 16h46 Victoria-Hastings is also overcrowded. It has only eight carriages. The Eastbourne rail service is a pale shadow of what it was years ago. One useful improvement which could be made is discontinuance of the irritating delay at Haywards Heath while the Littlehampton section is connected/disconnected. This practice should cease.

David B Rippon

Litlington