Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates the Southern Rail franchise amongst others, is consulting on possible changes to its weekend timetable for 2018. The Society responded to GTR’s earlier consultation on weekday services and has now pressed for more frequent weekend stopping services at Amberley and Southease, two stations in the national park, close to the South Downs Way. At both stations many trains pass through without stopping: with little impact on the overall service it would seem reasonably straightforward for all trains to stop, encouraging greater use by residents, walkers and other visitors to the national park. Our response appears below:
These are the comments of the South Downs Society, the national park society for the South Downs National Park. The Society has nearly 2,000 members and its focus is the conservation of the special qualities of the national park and its quiet enjoyment. Satisfactory rail access, during the week and at weekends, plays a vital role in enabling local people and visitors to enjoy the national park by means other than the private car. This provision is a key element in this Society’s programme of walks aimed at encouraging enjoyment of the park by more environmentally sustainable means. Other groups, and many individuals– some with, some without access to a car — also rely on rail access, and weekends are a very important part of the week in this respect.
We will focus our comments on the timetables for Southease and Amberley stations, both of which provide ready access to the South Downs Way national trail and other local recreation facilities including the Southease youth hostel and the Amberley Museum.
The service on this line on both Saturday and Sunday is half hourly but only alternate trains stop at Southease, providing an hourly service. If all trains stopped at Southease, providing a half hourly service, this would surely create no significant issues for the overall service but be a boon for walkers.
The same remarks apply to the Saturday service at Amberley. If all trains on this line stopped at Amberley there would be a half hourly service, of much benefit to local residents, walkers and other visitors.
We trust you will afford suitable weight to these comments.
The South Downs Society, in responding to a timetable consultation by GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway) Southern, has pressed for more frequent stopping trains at Amberley, Cooksbridge and Southease for the benefit of local residents and visitors to the national park. The text of our submission is below:
“These are the comments of the South Downs Society in response to the above consultation. The Society has nearly 2,000 members and its focus is campaigning and fund raising for the conservation of the landscape of the South Downs National Park and its quiet enjoyment. Our comments will reflect this focus.
The Society supports and encourages access to the national park by more sustainable means, including by train, and therefore wishes to see the GTR timetable adequately reflect this objective. We are keen to support existing services close to and within the national park, especially those connected to the park through the rights of way network and including the South Downs Way. We also seek improvements to those services where they will encourage greater use of the train to access the national park. Although it may mean some slight increases in journey times, we believe that increased stopping frequencies at selected stations will greatly benefit those wishing to enjoy the special qualities of the national park and thus provide encouragement to use the train for recreational and other purposes.
In particular we would respond to certain questions posed in the consultation as follows:
Qu. 7: Mainline West via Horsham: Irrespective of the issue posed in relation to Redhill station, this Society would urge an increased frequency of trains stopping at Amberley from hourly to half-hourly to match the frequency at other stops on this line, like Pulborough.
Qu. 9: Mainline East: We would urge an increase in stopping frequency at Cooksbridge to hourly off-peak, seven days a week, to match services at Plumpton.
Qu. 13: Coastway East: We would support an increased stopping frequency at Southease to half-hourly in line with other stations on this route.
The Society believes that, along with other social and economic justifications for these improvements, they would serve to promote increased use of these services to provide access to the delights of the national park.”