CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Rail usage has doubled in the last 18 years

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001

Rail usage in Eastbourne has doubled in eighteen years according to the Office of Rail and Road. They estimated over three million entry/exits were made from our station!

How this is actually done and whether that properly takes into account a brisk trade at Bella’s or even the walk-in Medical Centre is a fair challenge.

But, what is incontestable is that our rapidly growing town needs good rail links and we’ve not had that for a long time.

We also need a good level of service from the ticket office.

I contested proposals which would have seen opening hours at Eastbourne’s station reduced.

I’m pleased this has been dropped but I will continue to monitor.

One of the reasons behind disruption and delay has been the operating constraints imposed by the billion-pound investment at London Bridge, deigned to radically improve capacity and connectivity.

Undertaking such massive scale engineering works all the while needing to continue running services has undoubtedly proved challenging.

On that, a public consultation has just gone live on the proposed timetable for 2018.

There are changes to London Bridge connections and it seems some small savings to journey time.

You can contribute directly to this or as I will be making a fulsome contribution to this consultation you can get in touch with my office if you would like me to include your points.

More information at

Journey time is vital, so too is capacity; having a seat shouldn’t be a bonus.

There is a major investment in new rolling stock in the network and new modern 12 carriage trains will address this in part but it is these trains that have been at the heart of the industrial dispute.

They are designed to be operated by the drivers alone, and use automated systems and CCTV to allow them to operate the doors on arrival or departure from a station.

Southern has given assurances around job security and pay and, the presence of a second member of staff but present day guards still have concerns over the level of training given to those in the new role of ‘on board supervisor’. I have challenged and received assurances from both operators and the minister that there will be no reduction in support or access for those with mobility issues.

The industrial dispute brings the service to its knees but even on non-strike days, passengers suffer delay and disruption.

That’s why the new Transport Secretary very recently announced that Network Rail have allocated £20m to improve performance on the Southern network.

As you will know problems caused by unreliable rail services have had a devastating effect on local passengers.

I completely understand why some have called for the franchise to be removed but this nuclear option would only cause yet more grief for rail users in months of negotiating and change management and new operators would inherit all the same challenges.

I’m pushing to bring another rail project to completion, that being a new flexi or part time season ticket.

This is especially important to a town like ours where we want to sell that lifestyle choice that is part working in London and part time from this beautiful, sunshine seaside town that we call home.