An environmental group has criticised plans to revise services for train passengers to and from Brighton and Hove next year.
Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth said that new and better rail services are needed from the area’s main train operating company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
The organisation said: “Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) has responded to the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) consultation on evening and weekend services for next year which ends (on Wednesday 20 December).
“BHFOE is concerned that the rail operators are not providing a service that serves the needs of Brighton and Hove.
“While GTR’s proposals contain a few improvements, there are far too many areas where poor services, a lack of reliability, constant engineering works and poor rolling stock are putting people off travelling by train.
“BHFOE has also called for more services to be put on when Brighton and Hove Albion are playing at the Amex stadium to ease congestion of both people and cars.”
Chris Todd, from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, said: “We suffer from serious congestion and pollution in the city.
“We need the railway to be pulling its weight to get as many people out of their cars as possible.
“The problem is that services are slow, unreliable and uncomfortable.
“We need more Sunday services which are not constantly disrupted by engineering works.
“We need rolling stock with toilets and we need the 700 class trains that Thameslink is bringing in upgraded or replaced.
“Until the needs of the public are placed centre stage in the rail industry, we will continue to suffer from expensive and uncomfortable services.”
The key points submitted by Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth are
1. Unreliable evening services – Services are constantly being cancelled in the evenings.
2. Unreliable weekend services due to engineering works – Campaign for Better Transport and Eastbourne Borough Council highlighted the negative impact of disruptive weekend rail engineering work for coastal communities in a recent report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Visitor Economy. Network Rail should be required to carry out more works in night possessions.
3. Inadequate toilet facilities on the Coastway services – Currently there are no toilets on most of the long-distance Coastway West services and this is unacceptable, especially given the slow nature of these services.
4. Poor Thameslink rolling stock (with) fewer seats, cramped, uncomfortable, no trays or tables for working on, no power for recharging devices, poor information on other services.
5. Inaccessible stations – Too many stations remain inaccessible. Recently the opportunity was missed to make Moulsecoomb station fully accessible when Brighton and Hove City Council approved the £300 million Preston Barracks development adjacent to the station.
6. Coastal services, particularly Coastway West services, should have a minimum of four-carriage trains with toilets for the faster services to address overcrowding and to increase capacity.
7. A four-car electric service from Brighton to Hastings, overlapped with a two-car diesel service from Eastbourne to Ashford on the Coastway East section to increase capacity.
8. Sunday services – Coastway West – The only fast trains on Coastway West leaving Brighton on a Sunday seem to be at 7.15am and 8.20am. There should be more and faster trains at weekends combined with better publicity and better integration with local bus services and cycle access improvements.
9. Seaford trains should stop at Southease every 30 minutes, not every hour. It would better serve the South Downs Way (one of the country’s most popular National Trails, which passes by the station) and the South Downs National Park.
10. There should be trains every 30 minutes on Sundays between Brighton and Eastbourne, double the current level of service. It would allow a doubling of the frequency of trains stopping at Glynde and Berwick, also important destinations for the National Park and the latter additionally for Drusillas Zoo Park. This would help relieve pressure on the A27.
11. Similar to the case for Southease, Amberley (which is also on the South Downs Way) should also be served by trains every 30 minutes at the weekends.
12. Brighton and Hove – At weekends the city comes under particular pressure, especially during peak periods such as bank holidays, Christmas, summer weekends, party conferences and during the festival. However, the weekend services often don’t reflect this upsurge in demand, either being too few or cancelled due to engineering works. The train service should be built around the needs of the city.
13. Brighton and Hove Albion match days – More and longer trains should be provided on Brighton and Hove Albion match days (weekends and evenings).