I’ve been interested to note the recent flow of letters to the Sussex Express on train services.
I now live metres from Cooksbridge Station and find myself regularly discussing the service – or lack of it – to the village.
Unlike the BML2 and Lewes link this is not a complex issue with strong arguments on
both sides. The line already exists, there are frequent trains passing through the station and Cooksbridge is an unmanned station. It just requires a maximum of an extra three minutes to allow people living in or visiting the area to board and alight.
One of the reasons I moved here was because of the station. However, in spite of the busy line, there are no stopping trains at weekends and a limited service during the week. Cooksbridge station serves a large rural area with thriving communities such as Chailey and Barcombe. In my village alone there will be an extra 30 households moving in, all with reasons to use the train. One of these is that there will be fewer buses when that service is cut. Younger people and those without cars need a public transport service. Some people choose to use trains because they are convenient and others consider the environmental consequences of car use. The arguments for a viable train service to Cooksbridge are simply too many to express here.
I understand that the Station Partnership has been making these arguments for several years. The only reason they have been given for not providing trains at weekends and during the main part of the day is that it is a ‘disbenefit’ to other passengers. However, a recent consultation process
proposes a slower stopping service so that passengers can choose which train to catch. Imminent improvements in the signalling system will shorten the journey by at least three minutes, so that there will in fact be no difference if the train stopped at this station. The arguments are so strong for including Cooksbridge in this slower stopping service that the Station Partnership was able to present a weighty document to Southern as part of their recent consultation process. This included numerous letters of support from local organisations, the political parties, environmental groups, local businesses and residents from the surrounding villages. Surely it is now time that Southern listened to the arguments; it can be in no one’s interest to continue to ignore the plea for a viable service to Cooksbridge.