Train apology and improvement plans at Haywards Heath Annual Meeting

Bank Holiday travel is set to be disrupted
Bank Holiday travel is set to be disrupted

Southern Railway has apologised to commuters, set out plans to improve services and reassured Haywards Heath residents about developments at the railway station.

Commercial director of the train provider Alex Foulds spoke at Haywards Heath Town Council’s Annual Meeting on Monday.

Alex Foulds

Alex Foulds

“The current performance and the operational performance since last winter has been very poor,” he said.

“We are sorry for the poor railway service. We aspire to do better.”

A member of Haywards Heath Preservation Society questioned whether Waitrose, planned in the station redevelopment, is going ahead.

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards said: “We have assurance that Waitrose is committed to the scheme.

“There’s no need to be concerned.”

Mr Foulds said the multi-storey car park will open 230 spaces in November, of a total of 1057 planned.

“It’s going to be a great scheme when it’s finished,” he said.

Services were ‘poor’ partly due to the 16-week closure of London Bridge Railway Station.

At the same time, three miles of track had constant signalling problems near New Cross Gate.

Mr Foulds admitted there were signalling problems every day at one stage.

He continued: “We are trying to make sure the system has a little bit more robustness. To get back to the level of service we really want.”

Southern attempted to improve services by adding staff at stations, and changing the timetable.

The train provider plans to change more timetables and calling patterns.

A Govia Thameslink Railway management contract is planned at Brighton Railway Station.

“It’s the first time it will all be on one rail provider, which will try to provide the best possible service for everyone,” Mr Foulds said.

“By 2018 the plan is for 24 core trains per hour to travel through the central core. There will be a lot of new trains in this area.

“Brand new trains for all Thameslink routes.

“The new trains will have new equipment in them which will tell you what’s going on,” he added.

Another resident asked about the lifts at Haywards Heath Railway Station, which smell ‘disgusting’.

Leader of the council Mike Pulfer said: “Network Rail attempted to clean them, but said they’re beyond cleaning.”

He explained the lifts were expected to be in a satisfactory condition in 18 months.

He asked Mr Foulds to put ‘pressure’ on Network Rail to clean the lifts which are ‘filthy’ and ‘reek’.