UPDATE: Rail travel ‘never been as bad’

Thirty Five Million pound construction works next to Haywards Heath Railway Station (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151124-092603008

Thirty Five Million pound construction works next to Haywards Heath Railway Station (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151124-092603008

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A rail commuter has told of his frustration after the ‘chaos’ on services this morning (Friday February 12).

Trains were delayed by more than an hour between Haywards Heath and Lewes due to ice on the electricity conductor rails.

Southern Rail explained essential works had been carried out on the line the night before by Network Rail.

“It meant we weren’t able to run the usual ghost trains across this part of the network to keep it ice-free, which contributed to the problem,” a spokesman said.

“Ice on the electricity conductor rails stopped trains picking up power on all services between Eastbourne and Haywards Heath.”

One service was delayed by more than two hours as engineers from both Southern and Network Rail worked to de-ice the track and bring the train into Haywards Heath.

All lines were closed and replacement bus services ran between the two stations.

Lines were re-opened southbound at 9.10am, with the northbound line reopened later in the morning.

Trains were still unable to stop at both Cooksbridge and Plumpton due to the issue.

Simon Jones was at Haywards Heath station this morning and described the ‘chaos’ caused by the delays.

He said: “I’ve been commuting between Haywards Heath and London Bridge for over 13 years and it’s never been as bad as over the last 18 months.

“Trains are dangerously over crowded, late, cancelled and information on delays is scarce and usually incorrect. This morning was a combination of all of those things.

“What little information was given was wrong and when trains did come they were packed full already.

“I pay £4,800 per year for a service that Southern Rail obviously cannot deliver.”

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, described the recent delays as ‘appalling’ and said she had lost faith with the rail provider.

Alasdair Coates, Network Rail’s route managing director said: “I would like to apologise for the disruption passengers have experienced this morning.

“We know this level of service isn’t what people expect and passengers and train operators have had a very difficult morning.

“While our de-icing train fleet ran overnight and our rail heaters were all on and working, this still hasn’t been enough to prevent delays. We are investigating what further action we can take to mitigate the problem of ice forming and making it unsafe for trains to run.

“All lines are now open but there are delays while we work with train operators to get the service back to normal.”

A spokesman for Southern Rail added: “It’s been a particularly difficult morning for some of our passengers and we apologise.”

Eastbourne services were diverted along the Brighton line, adding an extra hour to commuter’s journeys and delaying Brighton service by up to 15 minutes.

The route between Tonbridge and Redhill was also closed all morning for the same reason.

Related stories: RAIL UPDATE: MP has ‘lost faith’ with service

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