In response to a number of letters in the Herald I would like to clarify a number of points about the campaign to get a faster train service to London.
Firstly I started campaigning for a quicker service prior to being elected, and since being elected I have met with train operators and Transport Ministers on a number of occasions.
As the franchise is due to be renewed in 2015, and the Department for Transport (DfT) are currently consulting stakeholders on the service, we – business and tourist trade associations along with the local rail user group – are now pressing forward with a well publicised campaign.
We would like as many Eastbourne residents and businesses as possible to personally lobby the DfT to give us the best chance of a positive result.
You can do this by writing to the DfT about why you feel Eastbourne should get a faster service here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new franchise presents us with a number of options, and makes a 70 minute service a realistic target.
Brighton currently benefits from having more than one operator provide train services to London, and while I am all for competition, as it often improves service, in the current franchise Eastbourne misses out.
As Southern is our only train operator, we can only use Southern services whereas at Brighton, Southern vies for passengers with First Capital Connect to the detriment of Eastbourne.
With one provider for the whole area, we in Eastbourne should see an improved service, and I’m lobbying furiously to see this become a reality.
A 70-minute hourly service to the capital could be achieved by the diversion of one train path an hour from Brighton to Eastbourne which would mean we would maintain two hourly services, but one service would be a faster less stopping service which does not divide, or even stop, at Haywards Heath, only calling at Lewes, Polegate and Gatwick en route to the capital.
Where there’s a will there’s a way and we have so far impressed both the DfT and the train operators with our vision.
They are both very clear on what we want; Eastbourne to London in 70 minutes.
Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon.