LETTER: Impact of Horsham area railway station decisions

Your letters
Your letters

You reported (24.9.15) on the recent meeting of West Sussex County Council’s Environmental and Community Services Select Committee. Horsham District Council and Liberty had asked for a view on whether the one new railway station should be built north of Horsham or at Kilnwood Vale.

The WSCC agenda (http://www2.westsussex.gov.uk/ds/cttee/ecs/ecs170915i7.pdf) presented to the Committee included input from various stakeholders, mostly councillors (4 WSCC; 1 Crawley Borough Council; 5 Parish Councillors/Councils). Some supported Kilnwood Vale, some North Horsham. Only North Horsham Parish Council asked for more information about the impact on existing services before giving an opinion.) Notably, Southern Rail said: ‘Projects must be designed not to materially worsen the position for existing customers ...’.

Despite it being widely reported in your paper and elsewhere that, for sound operational reasons, Network Rail will only permit one new railway station on the line between Horsham and Crawley, and despite acknowledging that ‘there was a need for clarity from the railway industry on the impact of each proposal on the timing and frequency of services from other stations’, WSCC recommended that ‘if only one new station can be accommodated on the Arun Valley Line, the County Council’s current preference is for a new station adjacent to the North Horsham Business Park’.

Last week it was reported that Crawley borough councillor Michael Jones (Southgate and Crawley Central) opposed the WSCC recommendation. He said: “Kilnwood Vale is going up and lived in now. It was always intended to have a station. If it doesn’t there is no direct communication route to the centre of town, it risks becoming an isolated ghetto...”

The north of Horsham recommendation was dropped. Common sense prevailed.

The arguments against building in North Horsham have been addressed many times, in your paper and elsewhere. The WSCC recommendation could have gone forward – but for the happy chance that Cllr Jones was present, well briefed and prepared to argue with logic, and look after the interests of his constituents.

It’s not just Kilnwood Vale residents who would suffer if a station was located in North Horsham. Faygate station would be closed, and Littlehaven station would be downgraded - meaning fewer trains and no fast trains to and from London would stop there. That would detrimentally affect train users living in Holbrook and Roffey.

By way of an aside: it is more than disappointing that consultees - elected representatives of the community - expressed support for one or other station when they knew or should have known they had insufficient information to enable them to make a judgement.

Worse, that WSCC would make a recommendation in favour of North Horsham at the same time as stating ‘there was a need for clarity from the railway industry on the impact of each proposal ...’ Incompetence or railroading?

C. MORRIS

Tennyson Close, Horsham

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