Staff shortages must be tackled

I AM writing about the recent piece in your newspaper concerning changes at Eastbourne Railway Station.

I am a commuter who uses the service to work each day in Croydon.

Although my first train is normally the same time each morning, because of the nature of my work the return journey often changes.

There is no doubt in my mind that over the past three to six months the staffing levels have decreased dramatically at the Eastbourne end.

Last week there was only one barrier operator who had to check tickets in and out, supervise the gate and deal with people who had to purchase a ticket.

On both occasions the gate-person was subjected to abuse and threats from people who did not want to pay fares or wanted to argue.

The behaviour became very unpleasant and this poor chap was on his own, with no other staff or support available.

It was a very awkward situation and hardly safe for the guard or the customers.

Where was the support?

I have commuted regularly from Victoria, Brighton and Cambridge in my time and there is no doubt that the staff at Eastbourne, along with the general helpfulness and cleanliness - outweighed any of my experience with the other stations mentioned.

When travelling home in the evenings there are often no staff on the train at all.

It is hardly reassuring to customers to feel safe if there are no staff on-board.

The ticket office is also very understaffed. You can spend 40 minutes waiting in a queue.

Southern seems to be trying to run the service on a very limited staff.

I do hope that the lack of staff in this region does not continue.

Our fares are expensive enough that we should at least expect there to be staff available if there is a problem or accident.

We need to support these hard-working train staff. They often suffer from abuse from passengers who seem to blame them for price increases, lateness and dirty trains.

It is obviously outside their control. I certainly wouldn’t to do some of the work they have to undertake - look at the mess that some passengers leave the service in.

Paul Tomkinson

Royal Parade