Village victory in fight to halt rail service cuts

Amberley SOS campaign group SUS-170910-160249001
Amberley SOS campaign group SUS-170910-160249001

Villagers are celebrating after winning a fight to halt rail service cuts proposed by train operators Govia Thameslink.

Residents in Amberley formed an action group - Amberley Rail SOS - when details of the proposed cuts were first put forward by the train operators as part of a new Southern Railway timetable - and Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert took up their cause.

The timetable changes proposed fewer trains stopping at Amberley, to the dismay of villagers, and commuters and Mr Herbert raised their concerns with the train operators. He highlighted the 58,000 journeys to and from Amberley Station every year, half of them being made by frequent commuters. The station serves the wider area around Amberley including Bury, Rackham and Storrington.

Members of Amberley SOS met Govia Thameslink officials separately to also make the case for increasing the frequency of service.

Govia Thameslink chief operating officer Nick Brown said that the company had carried out a review and was “pleased to be in a position to add additional services to provide a half hourly service during these times.”

Meanwhile, the company has committed to meet the Amberley Rail SOS group again in the autumn to discuss the possibility of increasing their service to half hourly throughout the day and on Saturdays. The new timetable will be published in December.

Mr Herbert joined villagers and Amberley Rail SOS on Saturday at the station to demonstrate his continuing support for their campaign and maintain pressure on Govia Thameslinke to deliver improved services for the village.

Local resident Alex Beveridge said: “The response from the community was phenomenal. We had over 100 responses to Southern Rail’s consultation, with many more writing to our local MP. This led to a very constructive response and meetings with Southern. We now await final approval from the Department of Transport.”

Nick Herbert added: “I am pleased with the response from GTR which shows that they have listened to local concerns, and I congratulate Amberley Rail SOS on their effective campaign.

“Amberley was the only station with more than 40,000 journeys a year that would not have had a half-hourly service during peak times. Local residents and commuters deserved better.”