Higher fares and declining service

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On November 11 you published a column written by me on the record of Southern rail services, the cost of fares, increasing subsidy and how service might be improved if they were moved back into the public sector.

I have had occasion to use the rail service three times in the last two weeks.

On each occasion the services from Horsham have been severely disrupted by operational difficulties, signal failure north of Gatwick and on Wednesday December 12th, a frozen train between Amberley and Arundel which caused the cancellation of all Victoria bound trains from Horsham, requiring me to seek a lift to Three Bridges to get a train to Gatwick.

When one asks the much maligned and generally cheerful frontline staff who daily face the ire of passengers for the poor rail performance, they just despair, saying they are just not getting the backing from their senior management.

When I asked a guard on my train from Three Bridges last Wednesday what the problem was I was told about the frozen train. I asked why Southern could not have run ‘ghost trains’ to keep the network open over night. Why not indeed was the reply!

But the inference was that Southern does not seem to have the will, understanding, care or competence to take such an initiative.

Maybe a combined campaign by the Arun Valley Users Group and the WSCT might make a difference to shake Southern out of its apparent complacency.

I am thankful that I am no longer a commuter forced to pay for ever higher fares and a declining level of service.

L.N. PRICE

Smithbarn, Horsham