Commuters were given the chance to voice their anger about the abysmal train service to rail bosses in Eastbourne last night (Tuesday, June 28).
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell organised for Govia Thameslink Railway and Southern chiefs to meet with train users at the railway station during the evening rush hour.
The half dozen managers spoke to numerous commuters to hear their stories from the recent cancellations and strikes in a bid to build bridges and explain to disgruntled people why the service has been so poor.
Andy commutes from Polegate to London for work most days and he wanted to find out why trains are being cancelled at the last minute.
“I’ve only been commuting since October last year but they have been quite bad to be fair, with the amount of people on the platforms, not being able to get on to trains when they do turn up because they’re overcrowded from other trains that have been missed by other people and sometimes being stranded when it gets to the last train at night because they cancel them at the last minute,” he said.
The issues stem from GTR’s desire to have drivers operate doors but guards believe this is not safe and their union RMT has held three strikes so far in protest against the new system.
Another commuter from Eastbourne who wished to remain anonymous said the exercise was just to appease commuters and fears the situation will still be as bad when the new system is in place.
Ms Ansell was unable to attend the meeting as she was in Westminster but her officer manager Ian Lucas said the exercise is not a PR stunt as it helps both parties understand each other’s situations.
“In the end, all people really care about is getting the service they are paying for, and if this helps ease that a little bit then it’s a job well done,” he said.
“I don’t suspect it’s going to get perfect again tomorrow but the more we tell them we’re not happy and won’t accept it the way it is, then I think it sends the right message out to those guys who can make a difference.”
Southern’s passenger service director Alex Foulds said the discussions had led to some constructive ideas for him to take away and praised the MP for organising the event.
“I think these are really positive things to do because first of all, they give us the chance to apologise to our customers on a face to face basis, they give us the chance to hear their individual circumstances about the service we deliver affects their daily lives, and thirdly they give us the opportunity to explain why some of the things are happening and hopefully they can be constructive discussions,” he said.
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