Commuters on rail lines between Hastings and Brighton have condemned Southern’s plans to introduce 30-year-old “Class 313” suburban rolling stock replacing the new coaches launched only five years ago.
Two- and four-coach units designed specifically for local services along the East Coastway route, as well as new three-coach units, are to be relocated to south London. The 30-year-old units replacing them have no toilets or air-conditioning and have previously seen much wear and tear on the busy North London Line.
In addition, half the direct services between Brighton and Hastings are to be discontinued and replaced with services terminating at Eastbourne. Southern advise passengers to change at Hampden Park if they need to travel beyond Eastbourne in either direction. The East Sussex Rail Alliance is concerned that Hampden Park has limited disabled access and few passenger facilities.
Andrew Leach of ESRA said, “In spite of our objections made to Southern and the Department for Transport in their consultation on the timetable, it appears that it was already a done deal. Passengers between Brighton, Eastbourne and Seaford are going to have to endure uncomfortable journeys made even longer by the reduced top speed of the refurbished stock.
“We are also very disappointed that it looks as if disabled passengers will have to cross the level-crossing at Hampden Park to change trains and continue their journey, instead of being able to change at platform level at Eastbourne.
“Southern don’t guarantee connections at Hampden Park, and it is the busiest level crossing in Europe. Passengers who will have most difficulty in travelling from one side of Eastbourne to the other risk being stranded — even the waiting room closes at 7pm.
“We call on the DfT to invest in infrastructure to ensure a better service for all, on the East Coastway and in south London, rather than ensure that East Sussex is again at the bottom of the pile by tinkering with rolling-stock allocations.”