They could close down the network

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THE letter from Dr Jeffs (December 10) was a first-class, balanced and accurate observation on the workings of our franchise holder. One can ignore the previous Opinion column (December 3) regarding old rolling stock and ‘dodgy’ tracks obviously written by someone who prefers a schools class steam loco and its creaky slam door coaches plus the filthy, cold, soot covered stations that went with the ‘romantic era’ of railways.

The cold snap brings out the best and worst in people and the railways are no different.

In good faith southern did try to offer a service, staff tried their best but third rail power collection will always cause problems in extreme conditions.

Network Rail in conjunction with Birmingham University has developed a heating system for these rails and they are running tests right now.

Let’s hope it is successful. Perhaps the weak spot on Southern’s part was a lack of co-ordinated passenger (not customer) information.

The public are very understanding, they just need simple, honest information then they can decide what action they can take regarding alternatives.

I would go so far to suggest in such extreme weather conditions the network is closed.

Season ticket holders get an automatic refund for the period a service is not offered and this close down period would allow staff to work on the infrastructure.

Schools close, buses stop, so why should Southern be used as a tool to keep ‘Mr Angry’ happy?

Dr Jeffs is spot on, privatisation was botched but Southern overall performed well, modern rolling stock and general performance helped them win four out of the 13 major awards at this year’s National Rail Awards.

Eastbourne station was voted “Best medium station” in the entire UK so they must be doing something right.

I find the booking hall staff in particular most helpful and pleasant and always on ‘our side’.

Remember France, Germany and Spain all had snow problems and fared no better and in many cases much worse than we did. High speed trains, especially in France are superb but try to get across country and you will get one train every four or five hours and the stock will be passed its sell by date.

The UK is unlike large European countries, our geography is complex yet despite this we manage to transport millions of people daily so let’s stop kicking a company when they are down.

I have no connection with Southern, I am just a born again rail enthusiast who enjoys constructive comment as long as it is factual. I close with just one gripe about Southern. The Turbostar service from Brighton to Ashford needs three or even four cars rather than the two especially during the summer months. Well one gripe can’t be bad, well done Southern!

JOHN MANSFORD

Coast Road, Pevensey