Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed Govia Thameslink Railway’s decision to reinstate the 8.28am train service from Wivelsfield to Hassocks as part of its new ‘interim’ timetable introduced this week.
The timetable changes introduced in May had been disrupting the start of the school day for around 130 students from Downlands Community School who travel between Wivelsfield to Hassocks.
The revision gave them a choice of only two trains, one of which meant that pupils arrived in Hassocks far too early for school, while the other arrived too late. Both journeys required a change of trains.
Head teacher of Downlands Mark Wignall raised the problem with Mr Herbert, which led the MP to take up the issue with the chief operating officer of GTR, Nick Brown.
He asked Mr Brown if he could review and restore the service.
The interim timetable, which was introduced yesterday (July 15), provides a direct train service which will get students to school on time.
However, direct peak services from Hassocks to Clapham Junction have not been restored in the interim timetable as commuters had hoped.
Mr Herbert 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, introduced this week, 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 dated July 6, 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 Sunday, July 15, and I can confirm that the 08:28 is in this timetable.
“I appreciate that this will be close to the school end of year but I hope that this helps in the final days of term.”
Last week 281 trains were cancelled at Hassocks, meaning that nearly 2,400 trains have been cancelled at the railway station since the new timetable was introduced on May 20.