Hassocks school’s delight as vital train reinstated for students

Downlands Community School in Hassocks. Picture: Google Street View
Downlands Community School in Hassocks. Picture: Google Street View

A decision to reinstate a morning train from Wivelsfield to Hassocks has left a school ‘delighted’.

Around 130 students at Downlands Community School in Hassocks were having to arrive either too early for school or too late due to timetable changes introduced in May.

However Govia Thameslink Railway, which also runs Southern and Gatwick Express services, decided to reinstate the train as part of its new interim timetable which came into force on Sunday (July 15).

It said it was ‘committed to running more peak hour trains and providing a more regular service’, following disruption and cancellations since the new timetable was introduced.

Mark Wignall, headteacher at Downlands, said: “We are delighted and relieved to hear that the train companies have listened to our concerns and reinstated the 8.28am train from Wivelsfield to Hassocks.

“This will have a big impact on the safety and wellbeing of our students as the previous timetable had generated a great deal of concern and uncertainty.”

The news has also been welcomed by Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert, who has been raising the issue in parliament.

He said: “I am glad that GTR have made this amendment to their interim timetable after I raised this issue on behalf of Downlands school.

“We will have to see whether the interim timetable will provide the more stable service which passengers have been promised.

“In the meantime, I will continue to press for direct peak-time services from Hassocks to Clapham Junction to be restored.”

In a letter to Mr Herbert, Yvonne Leslie, senior stakeholder manager for GTR, said: “I am sorry to hear that children from the school have been experiencing difficulties with the service between Wivelsfield and Hassocks.

“We fully understand that passengers, especially school children, need more certainty and we have been working hard with Network Rail to introduce changes to bring stability to the Thameslink service.

“The aim has been to have fewer unplanned cancellations, allowing passengers to arrange journeys with greater confidence.

“Unfortunately, in order to help this process, some services have been taken out of the timetable temporarily and this includes the 08:28.

“We plan to introduce a new interim timetable from July 15, and I can confirm that the 08:28 is in this.”

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