Help shape the future of railway

LEWES is a town that is fortunate to have rail connections throughout Sussex and to the capital.

I am writing to highlight the current Department of Transport consultation that is proposing to amalgamate Southern (including Gatwick Express), Thameslink, Great Northern and some parts of South Eastern rail services.

This ‘super-franchise’ will be the largest rail franchise that central government have ever let happen, and the intention is to bring about efficiencies of scale, new trains, new technology, network investment and ultimately a better service for passengers. It is intended that this new franchise will start in September 2013 and run until 2020.

Given the recent damning reports in the national media that rail services are almost ‘on the brink’ during the morning and evening peaks, we should all find the time to comment on what we want from this new rail franchise structure, as our comments should set the scope for this important contract.

Personally, I believe prospective franchisees should be made to commit to investing towards the inevitable reinstatement of Lewes to Uckfield as a minimum, so that new capacity and network flexibility can be made.

I’m sure there are many other issues that today’s rail users believe are important to Lewes and Sussex, so I strongly urge us all to read and comment on ‘Consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise’. The link for the document and the addresses for all the rail franchises, that will be bidding for this multi-billion pound public transport service, can be found at www.mattdkent.wordpress.com.

The closing date for the consultation is August 23, 2012. Hopefully this is a significant opportunity for us to help shape the future of rail travel in the region for the better.

Cllr Matt Kent, Lewes Bridge Ward