PRESS RELEASE – 1 December 2016



  1. Consultation on future service

As previously reported, Southern has issued a consultation document, ostensibly about the timetable from May 2018 but, for MarshLink users, the issues run deeper. Take note, responses are required by 8 December.


To view the consultation document:

– go to:

– then click on Timetable Consultation document

– then, for the one MarshLink issue, go to Question 52 ( Pages 37 – 40).


Question 52 revolves around capacity with the two-car diesel, Ashford to Brighton service: it proposes two suggestions on how to resolve these issues (with a third being a copout statement). In essence, Southern’s proposals are to reduce the length of the Ashford to Brighton service by terminating it at either Hastings or Eastbourne and operating longer electric trains from wherever the service is curtailed. They refer to a third possibility, to continue to operate the existing two-car diesel service from Ashford to Brighton (i.e. no change), but prepare their response to criticism in the future by stating this would be “with the understanding that current capacity issues on the route are unlikely to be addressed in the short term.”


MLAG’s view is that Southern should be properly resourced for the service it has committed to in its franchise. The existing service is a valuable contributor to the economy of the communities it connects and should not be interrupted. The through service is one MLAG and others fought for several years ago and, if it was withdrawn, it would be very difficult to re-introduce. MLAG proposes Southern should obtain additional equipment to properly operate the service they have committed to.


MLAG will be responding to the consultation and will put its response on its website as soon as possible – see


  1. Imposition of reduced service

The consultation referred to above relates to future speculative issues. Meanwhile, of very practical concern, the MarshLink continues to have only an occasional rail service operating with strike days being announced and other service failures.


MLAG has been sympathetic to the views expressed by the RMT union about the need for a second crew member (an on-board supervisor or guard) being necessary on all trains for safety reasons. Strikes are intended to have repercussions on the employer but, collaterally, they also have profound effects on their customers so it is difficult for any action group to provide support – understanding, yes.


But when the RMT announces a succession of strike days, quickly followed by ASLEF announcing its own succession of strike days, sympathy and understanding disappear as the torment for other workers (the passengers) increases. The strike days currently announced can be seen on the Home page of but are:


6th to 8th December

13th and 14th December

16th December

22nd to 24th December

31st December to 2nd January

9th to 14th January


Unfortunately, the inconvenience of strike days is compounded by knock-on disruption.

Meanwhile, as the winter sets in, the MarshLink reverts to the replacement bus service.


Stuart Harland


MarshLink Action Group

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