Chaos as £1-million car park pay system fails on opening day

Uckfield Station car park. Photo by Ron Hill. SUS-150610-122945001
Uckfield Station car park. Photo by Ron Hill. SUS-150610-122945001

The long-awaited, £1 million, 174-space railway car park in Uckfield opened this morning (Tuesday, October 6) - but not without its difficulties.

Users who tried to call the APCOA automatic pay line offering ‘cashless parking’ were told ‘sorry this service is no longer available’ and there was no-one from Network Rail or Southern Trains to help.

As a result, no parking charges are being enforced in the station today, although many people ended up parking on industrial estate roads as they did before the car park opened anyway.

When the Sussex Express called the direct line, plus the designated press enquiry line, there was no reply. Further enquiries revealed the telephone number on the pay signs was incorrect.

A Network Rail spokesman said the team responsible for the car park is aware of the issue. They said: “New signage has now been ordered with the correct phone number and temporary stickers will be in place. We would like to apologise for confusion and any unnecessary stress caused by this mistake. The correct phone number is 0345 434 8008.”

On the same day, a restricted three-hour time limit for vehicles using the Luxford Field car park was introduced. The aim of both was to give rail passengers a dedicated car park close to the station and to ensure there is parking space available for shoppers.

Visitors can stay for three hours in both Luxford Field short stay and Regency Close south car parks and 10 hours in Luxford maximum stay and Regency Close north car park. Because the new car park system was not working, several commuters parked in the three-hour bays but were not charged.

Vicky Tilling, Network Rail spokeswoman, said: “With the improvements to Uckfield town centre taking place, it is essential that there is a convenient, safe and well-lit car park close to the station for the benefit of passengers.”

Meanwhile, daytime passengers will suffer interrupted journeys to London Bridge next month with buses linking Uckfield and Hurst Green from November 2-27 between 9.20am and 4.40pm. This means the last direct commuter train will be the 8.34am from Uckfield with the first train back from London Bridge to Uckfield leaving at 4.08pm.

The stations will close as work is done to lengthen platforms along the line to accommodate new ten-carriage trains delivering a 50 per cent capacity increase during the morning rush-hour.

There will also be daytime closures for six weeks from January 4. Train operator Southern says the carriage are being put through a multi-million internal and external overhaul to make them compatible with the current diesel fleet. This involves major work to most aspects of the carriages.

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