It was with some disbelief that I read the following quote from Govia Thameslink, owners of Southern Rail, in your lead story [Sussex Express September 30]: “The RMT has for the first time chosen a Saturday to strike in order to deliberately target Lewes and that community’s hugely popular, nationally famous Lewes Bonfire Night. This attracts tens of thousands of people, families and their children, and raises money for a dozen charities.”
My disbelief does not however stem from the RMT’s decision to strike, but Southern Rail’s absolute nerve in suggesting they somehow “help” Lewes Bonfire.
For at least two decades the Bonfire Community, and other organisations (council, emergency services, etc) have been asking Southern Rail not to run extra trains on Bonfire Night, and not to publicise the event across the entire Southern region as they had been doing.
Lewes Bonfire is indeed a community event, and as such it is hindered, not helped by the additional 20,000 odd travellers that are brought in by train.
Moreover, Southern Rail are the only ones benefitting from these visitors – the Lewes Bonfire Societies and numerous charity collections do not see a penny of the additional revenue the event generates for the train company.
And the charities largely do not benefit from the visitors to the town either who mostly come to watch for free, keep their hands firmly in their pockets and go home again without contributing to anything but headaches for all those involved.
Winterbourne Close, Lewes