New fears over threat to village train services

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New fears over proposals to cut a village’s rail services have been put forward by a leading conservation group.

Members of the Campaign to Protect Rural England are concerned that the proposed cuts at Amberley Station would be detrimental to commuters, tourists and local businesses.

In a letter to Govia Thameslik Railway which is proposing the cuts as part of a new Southern Railway timetable, they say the cuts ‘will impact commuters, tourists, walkers, the village’s businesses - pubs, tea rooms, B&Bs - and potentially even the viability of Amberley Museum.’

In the letter, CPRE Sussex director Kit Trainor, says: “We believe that this proposal shows a lack of joined-up thinking regarding travel to, from and within the South Downs National Park.

“At a time when the SDNP policy is to encourage visitors not to use cars to access the park, we risk having the train service reduced to one of the SDNP’s key tourist destinations.

“Amberley may only be a small station but it serves a wide catchment area in terms of tourism and recreation.

“CPRE Sussex would like to see services to and from this station protected for the benefit of the local economy and community and wider benefits in terms of access for everyone to the South Downs National Park.”

Meanwhile residents in Amberley have formed an action group - Amberley Rail SOS - in a bid to get a half-hourly service introudced at peak times for the village and to safeguard the station’s hourly off-peak service.

They say that Amberley Station is not only used regularly by villagers but also by people living in neighbouring Houghton, Bury, Madehurst and parts of Storrington.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert is backing the group in their fight. He said: “Amberley Station serves a wider community than the village, and the service should not be reduced.

“It is also one of the gateways to the South Downs National Park, and there are local businesses and attractions such as the Amberley Museum which need a healthy tourist trade.”

He said he had raised his concerns over the proposed timetable changes with GTR’s chief executive Charles Horton.