On the rails in 2015

Let the train take the strain

Welcome to 2015 and higher rail fares, while oil prices fall to new low, resulting in even cheaper motoring.  No doubt that will lead to more pollution, congestion and associated health impacts, but that’s alright as long as motorists don’t pay for the many external costs they impose on society.

In addition, buses continue to be under attack from local authorities who see them as easy targets for cuts.  Even when East Sussex County Council votes not to cut bus services, it appears that its decision can be overruled by an elite cabinet, seemingly unaccountable to no one.

In the meantime we have a rail network straining at the seams with the large increases in rail travel over recent years.  Yet away from the main intercity routes, services and connections can be pretty poor and offer little choice to people who need or want to move around without a car.  That’s why three consultations might be of interest to people, some with pretty short deadlines so don’t delay if you want to have your voice heard:

  • Network Rail is currently consulting on its South East Route Sussex area route study.  This is currently rather London-centric and largely ignores other rail journeys. Email them at SussexRouteStudy@networkrail.co.uk to ask for the re-opening of the Uckfield – Lewes line.  Reasons here if you need them plus other ideas for improvements along the south coast, such as building the Willingdon chord and new stations.  All would help reduce traffic on A27 and other roads.  Feedback required by 13 January, so hurry!  See this blog for ideas of what to say
  • Govia Thameslink is nearing the end of a 12 week consultation on a new off-peak timetable from December 2015.  The Cooksbridge Station Partnership has contacted SCATE to ask for our support in pressing for more off-peak and weekend services.  There may be other areas we wish to see improvements too.  Email your comments to: gtr.timetableconsultation@gtrailway.com by Friday, 30 January
  • At the same time as all this is happening, Network Rail is holding a consultation on radical proposals which could drastically alter the way the railways are planned and run.  Improving Connectivity is a long-term proposal to deliver substantially improved rail connectivity across Britain. It requires a different approach to planning both the network capability and the train services which operate on it.  Deadline for comments is 31 January.  Email improvingconnectivity@networkrail.co.uk or complete their online survey.