Town chiefs pen letter over Airbourne rail fears

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Eastbourne’s Chamber of Commerce bosses have written an open letter to rail chiefs over fears that the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Airbourne won’t be able to travel by train during the strike.

Between 500,000 and 700,000 people attend the four-day festival of flight each year.

But this year, the first two days of the event – which runs from August 11-14 – coincide with the last two days of the planned Southern Rail strike.

Chamber of Commerce president Tim Cobb and chief executive Christina Ewbank wrote, “We write with regard to the proposed five day strike on Southern Rail and to express our concern at the deteriorating service being provided by GTR across the network.

“The Eastbourne unLtd Chamber of Commerce is the largest town Chamber in the South East with over 600 members. We are also part of ACES (The Alliance of Chambers in East Sussex) which represents a combined 4,000 employers.

“Our members and their employees are making it clear that the disruption to service is causing significant damage to businesses in East Sussex.

“Even with the emergency reduced timetable, services remain extremely unreliable.

“The announcement of the five day strike to commence on the 8th of August is of significant concern as it falls during Airbourne, the largest free airshow in the country and one of the most important weeks in our calendar.

“We normally expect between 500,000 and 700,000 visitors to Airbourne, many of whom will be relying on the rail service.

“As we are sure you will appreciate, significant investment has been put into this event, and many of our businesses consider this week to be the most important in their trading year. It is a chance to showcase our town to all.

“You will be aware from your own passenger numbers of the spike that corresponds with Airbourne.

“We therefore request immediate assurances that GTR have planned sufficiently for this major event and would ask you to provide details of the steps you are undertaking to ensure that disruption is minimised.

“Our members look forward to your urgent reply.”

Southern Rail has been asked for a comment.

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