MPs raise concerns over Brighton line services

Haywards Heath Railway Station. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140925-161658001
Haywards Heath Railway Station. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140925-161658001

Two MPs have called for improvements to rail services after a train serving Haywards Heath was late every day for a year.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert and MP for Mid Sussex met the rail minister Claire Perry to raise concerns about the standard of the service on the Brighton line.

The 7.29am Brighton to London Victoria train service, which stops at Hassocks in Nick Herbert’s constituency, failed to arrive on time on any of its 240 attempts last year.

Mr Herbert said: “I was grateful for the opportunity to relay my constituents’ concerns about local rail services, and was pleased that the Minister has identified that improvements are necessary.

“People pay a great deal, through their taxes and fares, for rail services, especially commuters, and they are entitled to a reliable service.

“I look forward to meeting with the rail operators and Network Rail with the Minister to hear how they intend to improve their performance.”

The MP added: “I will continue to ensure that my constituents’ concerns are heard and press for better local rail services.”

Mr Hebert, who was recently appointed President of the West Sussex Rail Users Association, said people were also concerned about the cleanliness of trains and parking at stations.

Nicholas Soames, who branded the service as ‘deplorable’ despite ongoing work at London Bridge, discussed issues including poor passenger communication, compensation, staff unavailability, delays, cancellations and the capacity of the Brighton main line.

Mrs Perry said she was concerned about the quality of the service, especially on the Brighton line, and had asked to meet the rail operating companies and Network Rail to discuss necessary improvements.

She added that while a certain amount of disruption was caused by the £6 billion London Bridge improvements, this did not ‘excuse’ poor reliability – especially on the Brighton line.

She said: “Nick Herbert has been assiduous in raising issues about his local rail service and I believe he has valid concerns.

“I have told Network Rail and the rail operating companies that they must improve reliability and will be convening a special meeting.”