'˜Save Seaford rail services' campaign is '˜scaremongering' says MP
A Lib Dem campaign to '˜save Seaford rail services' in response to proposed timetable changes has been attacked by Lewes' Conservative MP as '˜scaremongering'.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Southern services, launched a consultation on a new timetable from 2018 last week, but Seaford Lib Dems claim proposals could remove peak time trains travelling directly from the town to London Victoria, forcing passengers to change at Lewes.
The rail operator brought in a temporary timetable back in July cancelling hundreds of services a day, including most trains between Seaford and Lewes, and these were only restored today (Monday September 26).
County councillor Carolyn Lambert (LDem, Seaford Blatchington) said: “We have had enough. Hundreds of people across Seaford travel to London every day, and every single one is fed up with delays.
“For Southern Rail to suggest it is Seaford’s direct train at fault is ridiculous. We must oppose this move and make sure we keep our peak time service.”
Kelly-Marie Blundell, the Lib Dem’s parliamentary candidate for Lewes, added: “The failings of Southern Rail to run a railway are not the fault of Seaford’s direct train, they are the fault of the Conservative government failing to address contract changes.
“This proposal will add misery to commuters’ lives, and quite simply, we’ve all had enough.”
From 2018, GTR is proposing to cut the number of peak trains between Seaford and Lewes in each direction from three to two an hour, because the single line between Newhaven Harbour and Seaford means that ‘delays can and do build very quickly on this route leading to a disproportionate impact across a wider network’.
It is also consulting on plans to either stop running direct peak trains between Victoria and Seaford, or continue them and instead trains between Brighton and Seaford would be reduced to run hourly with a Brighton to Lewes train for a connection to Seaford.
Responding to the campaign, Lewes MP Maria Caulfield said: “Sadly this move is politically motivated, with no real concern for the constituents that I have been representing.
“Today will see the Seaford branch line returning to a full service, something that myself and residents have campaigned for tirelessly over these last few months.
“Rather than welcoming this news, the Liberal Democrats have instead chosen to launch their own campaign based entirely on scaremongering, implying that this service is under immediate threat.
“This simply isn’t the case. Last week GTR launched a consultation on their proposed 2018 timetable, so that all stakeholders, including rail users within my constituency, are given the opportunity to feed in their opinions.
“If the Lib Dems were really supporting residents they’d be joining me in highlighting the significance of taking part in that process. Instead they have looked to bend the details of this consultation for their own gain, which is wholly irresponsible.”
Instead she advised residents to read the consultation documents and send in responses.
The consultation runs until December 8. To comment visit www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/timetable-consultation
To view the Lib Dems’ petition visit www.leweslibdems.org.uk/save_seaford_trains
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