Train travellers are steaming mad because of problems in obtaining rail tickets from their local station.
They say that newly-installed ticket machines at Littlehaven Station near Horsham frequently break down and the station’s ticket office is rarely manned.
One angry rail user - Jim London, from Swallowtail Road, Horsham - said he had experienced problems on ‘countless occasions’. “It’s been an absolute nightmare,” he said. “It started about three or four months ago and it can’t carry on. It’s not acceptable.”
Jim, 42, travels by train six days a week as a carer for his mother in Brighton. He said rail authorities “are always advertising to buy your ticket before you get on the train or you could get a penalty fare. I have had to get to Three Bridges or Crawley to get tickets there. Luckily, last time it happened, staff at Three Bridges were very understanding and helped me but there have been occasions when staff have not been helpful and called me a liar. Something needs to be done.”
He said Littlehaven’s two ticket machines were out of action last week and the ticket office was not open.
A spokesman for Southern Railway said: “We have installed new ticket machines at the majority of our stations, which will be more reliable and offer more features for passengers than the old ones they have replaced.Unfortunately there were a number of software and mechanical teething problems when the new machines were first installed. Most have been performing well since then, but some faults persisted at a few stations.
“At Littlehaven, faults seemed to have been fixed by early December. We then had six trouble-free weeks but problems with both machines arose this week. The card-only machine has been fixed but the cash-and-card-machine remains out of service and is being investigated by our supplier’s engineers. The engineers were due to make some modifications to the machines next month which will further improve reliability, and we are looking at whether we can do this sooner.
“At Horsham there were some issues when the new machines were first installed but they are performing well in the main. Staff knowledge and experience has increased hugely the more time they have had with the machines, so they are able to respond more quickly and resolve more problems themselves rather than having to call out the engineers.”