INTERESTING to read of the comments about the train service to London over the last couple of weeks, but regretfully your correspondents are only partially correct, and things are a lot worse now than they used to be.
It is true that the journey was quicker in the past, and originally stops were just at Lewes, Haywards Heath and East Croydon, with Polegate and Gatwick added later, and the quickest time once got down to 1 hour 20 minutes.
However, it is interesting to note that exactly 100 years ago in the steam age, according to the authoritative timetable of Bradshaw’s, there was a direct Eastbourne/Victoria service, non stop and taking 1 hour 35 minutes.
However, time is only half the difference in trains today.
In the not-too-distant past, trains were 12 carriages long, instead of the current eight, and seats were four abreast rather than today’s five, so standing except in the peak rush hours was rare.
Furthermore, the trains were more comfortable; seats did not have all the comfort of a London Underground train, and you used to be able to go to the buffet car for a meal, rather than hope to get one of the three or four sandwiches available on a trolley.
Regretfully, without any competition on the route, improvements of the quality and speed of our London service are about as likely as Eastbourne being linked to a motorway.
Of course unlike any other business, the problem for the rail companies apparently, is ‘too many passengers’, a ‘problem’ that virtually any other company would love to have!
Martin J.G. Wellings