Unlike Cllr Freeman I did receive a reply from the office of the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling concerning the never-ending misery on our forgotten rail line into Seaford (November 18).
But the response did not address any specific point or promise anything, and amazingly even tried to deflect criticism away from Southern Rail management and the RMT union instead blaming Network Rail, a body which also comes under Mr Grayling’s own department!
The pain with the trains is mainly felt by regular commuters and the local economy, but all aspects of Sussex life are affected. After Brighton & Hove Albion’s recent evening match with Aston Villa, the trip home from Falmer by a sizeable number of fans among a season-high attendance of over 30,000 was frustrated by a spate of train cancellations made without any advance warning.
Indeed, the Club’s website a few hours earlier had assured Southern would run a ‘normal matchday service’. No fewer than four successive eastbound trains were withdrawn due to ‘shortage of train crew’, leaving thousands – children and the elderly included – queuing for over an hour in the cold and rain.
Any Seaford resident who stayed in the ground until the end of the game and returned by train would be lucky to have got home by midnight. There would likely have been a riot if the game had involved a London club.
We are well beyond saying enough is enough. Maria Caulfield MP seems to have done her best, and is to be credited for the partial return of the weekday service, but the buck stops with government.
If for whatever reason the DfT won’t immediately revoke the Govia franchise on the Southern network then the responsible ministers must resign.
Much was made of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ under the Cameron regime. Mrs May’s administration seems hell bent on creating a ‘Southern Poorhouse’ and relying on the loyalty of Tory voters in the region.