Eastbourne to London train services cancelled unnecessarily, says ex-MP

Former Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd says services from the town to London were cancelled unnecessarily at the weekend.

Monday, 12th December 2016, 1:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:36 pm
web standing-images. Rail.
web standing-images. Rail.

Stephen Lloyd contacted the Herald to say he was approached over the weekend by a member of staff from Southern Rail who accused the company of misleading rail travellers on Saturday December 10.

Southern Rail has denied the allegations.

Mr Lloyd said, “I was called at home early Saturday morning by a local rail employee to say Southern Rail had cancelled all trains other than the first and last from Eastbourne to Victoria because, apparently, there were not enough staff to cover the trains.

Stephen Lloyd, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman, Eastbourne and Willingdon SUS-161115-154556001

“The staff member went on to tell me in fact there were plenty of drivers and guards available, but that when they arrived at Eastbourne station to start their shifts, they were instructed the London service would not be running as scheduled.

“If this allegation was true and in fact the drivers and guards had been available, as confirmed to me, then it appears the rail company were deliberately sabotaging their own Eastbourne rail service so they could pin the blame on the lack of staffing.”

“This would be appalling behaviour by Southern Rail under any circumstances so I shall be writing to the Secretary of State at the Department of Transport and the CEO of Southern Rail demanding they give me the facts over what actually happened at Eastbourne rail station last Saturday.

“Local train users deserve the truth over this serious allegation.”

Stephen Lloyd, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman, Eastbourne and Willingdon SUS-161115-154556001

RMT union boss Mick Cash said he stood by the allegations made by the RMT and ASLEF over train crew “sitting around in mess rooms available for work while services were cancelled by the franchise holder”.

Mr Cash said, “Southern/GTR has categorically denied these assertions but the RMT has been forwarded documentary evidence that prove the case we have been making.

“All services between Bognor Regis and London Victoria and all services between Eastbourne and London Victoria, which were scheduled to run on Saturday December 10, were cancelled on December 9.

“In an e-mail the Sussex route control manager states this ‘will leave a surplus of train crews’.

“Although the plan goes on to say that these staff can be used to cover ‘the no cover list’, we do not believe this happened and train crew were left sitting in mess-rooms when they could have been running a service for the public.

“As well as our continuing concerns that Southern/GTR are deliberately manipulating events to put the dispute in the worst possible light but they are more importantly failing their customers on a safety and an economic level.

“These two communities were effectively cut off from the capital for 24 hours in a wholly unnecessary way.”