Following months of campaigning GTR have agreed with Maria Caulfield MP that in May’s new timetable the Lewes to London journeys will run with 8 carriages as opposed to 4.
Currently the Lewes to London service runs with 4 carriages that are connected to another 4 carriages at Haywards Heath. This has led to overcrowding between Lewes and Haywards Heath, leaving many passengers to stand with little chance of finding a seat in the joining carriages which have already filled with passengers.
Following Maria Caulfield’s lobbying of Southern Rail and its parent company GTR, they have agreed to run the Lewes to London service with 8 carriages from Lewes with no carriages connecting at Haywards Heath.
Splitting apart the two Coastway routes and not having to join at Haywards Heath means that East Coastway (Lewes/Eastbourne/Ore) services will not be impacted in the same way as today by events on the West Coastway (Hove/Worthing/Littlehampton) which should have a significant impact on reliability. So in practice passengers coming from Lewes will no longer need to wait to join with a late running train at Haywards Heath as at present.
The May timetable is also due to see other improvements across the Lewes constituency including; additional stops at Wivelsfield to introduce a half-hourly service (vs hourly today), weekend services on Saturday and Sunday at Cooksbridge, and no reduction in the Seaford to London service as this will stay as one direct train in the morning to London Victoria (06:50) that joins up with an eight carriage train at Lewes.
Maria Caulfield MP said “Residents have been telling me for months that far too many services from Lewes to London are 4 carriages, which is simply not enough to cope with the number of passengers using the line. I have been calling on Southern and GTR to reinstate the service to 8 carriages from Lewes and I am pleased that this will now be the case from May. With the separation of the East Coastway and West Coastway services our line will no longer be impacted by events on the West Coastway as they are now.”
“I am also pleased to see the increased services for our rural communities in Wivelsfield and Cooksbridge, as well as the retention of a direct service from Seaford to London.”
This news will be welcomed by the hard pressed commuters on the Lewes to London Victoria line.
However the bad news is that the additional rolling stock will come from the Brighton to London Victoria line which from May 17th onwards and for the foreseeable future will have no off peak direct train services due to the major re-modernising work at Gatwick Airport train station.
The Gatwick Express services will continue to run, some to Brighton.
Work is scheduled to take place from 2020 until 2023 and will mean that platforms will be closed and services will need to be reduced. There will also be a thirty mile per hour speed limit in force.
It will be quite interesting to see, if as GTR claim, the improvements.