Did railway works show ‘no respect’?

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RAILWAY ENGINEERING works during Remembrance Sunday proved respect was ‘missing in this country’, according to a former Polegate town councillor.

Jayne Bigsby wanted to visit remembrance events in London with her family on Sunday, November 13.

The Bigsbys hoped to see the laying on of wreaths at the Cenotaph for the 90th anniversary of the Poppy Appeal.

She said: “We have made the journey before with packed carriages but arrived in London Victoria with enough time to get to the Cenotaph to see all the veterans and soldiers parading past with their medals representing their particular regiment.”

But Mrs Bigsby was outraged when she saw a sign saying, ‘Due to engineering works the following train timetable will be in operation’ when she went to buy tickets at Polegate Railway Station.

The timetable said the train from Polegate left at 7.02am via Brighton and Haywards Heath, arriving in London Victoria at 9.33am – a journey of two-and-a-half hours. It usually takes one-and-a-half hours, she said.

Mrs Bigsby kept her family at home in Polegate as a result, and said: “It is disgusting that Southern Railway decided to do the engineering works on the most important Sunday of the year, a time when old soldiers, widows and children take the pilgrimage to pay their respects to the fallen and give their thanks for the survivors of wars and battles.

“I feel it will alienate a lot of people, particularly older people who may have been visiting the Cenotaph for the last time in their lives to remember their fallen comrades.”

A Southern Rail spokesman said engineering works were Network Rail’s (NR) responsibility.

He said: “We always advise passengers to check for engineering work before they travel.

“Details are available on our website, on the National Rail website and on posters at stations well in advance.

“There were buses from Brighton or from Lewes to Haywards Heath. It would have been the choice of the passenger to take either option.

“By going to Lewes to get the bus to Haywards Heath would have meant a shorter overall time.

“It would have also meant one more change than going to Brighton, but the Brighton journey had a longer overall journey time. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

A NR spokesman confirmed improvement works took place that day between Haywards Heath and Lewes, and Haywards Heath and Brighton.

He said: “We do a huge amount to support Armistice Day and remembrance services were held across many of our managed and non-managed stations.

“We once again supported this year’s Poppy Appeal allowing volunteers from The British Legion, along with retired veterans and serving members of Her Majesty’s Forces, to collect donations at some of our busiest stations.

“Our primary duty is to run an efficient and safe railway and that is why we need to carry out essential improvement works.”