Rail forecast for the coming years
In summary, the short term rail forecast is bad; medium term variable (for Ryers moving easterly) to bad (for Ryers moving westerly); long term, good. But let’s look at the detail.
Short term forecast
In the short term (hopefully short term but who knows), MarshLink passengers have to suffer the result of Southern’s continuing fight with ASLEF (see previous reports in Rye News Online for the basis of the dispute). ASLEF have announced an overtime ban for drivers from 29 June and so Southern has now published a revised timetable to try to regularise cancellations. We understand, for the MarshLink, this will mean a loss of the Rye Shuttle again. But see Southern’s website for the changing daily forecast – http://www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/dispute
Medium term forecast
This week, Southern also announced their timetable effective from May 2018. This is a substantial change to their operations – they describe it as “the biggest timetable overhaul in a generation – designed to provide more reliable services, with more capacity for passengers.” Aspects of it have been discussed with rail user groups (“RUGs” such as MLAG) in two meetings (with another to be scheduled to deal with difficulties already identified).
MLAG has been keen to get our stated Objectives (see our website) included in the service changes. Following the discussions with RUGs, the timetable is now out for public consultation with a response date of 27 July – see www.transformingrail.com/
In summary (but we continue to review the many permutations), we see the following significant changes on the MarshLink:
- To Ashford, consistently throughout the off-peak period at xx.46 with the intention to improve the connection with the Javelin throughout the day. This was intended to be good news but (to be discussed with Southern) the first off-peak service appears to be a longer journey to St. Pancras than now.
- A later train in each direction: the last train from Ashford will be at 11.25pm – so very good news
- The MarshLink service will be cut at Hastings: this was in response to Southern’s consultation earlier this year on capacity issues with the 2-car train to the west of Hastings. So at first sight, for example, to get to Brighton two changes will be required, viz:
Depart Rye 8.46am Arrive Hastings 9.11am
Depart Hastings 9.20am Arrive Lewes 10.20am
Depart Lewes 10.23am (or 10.31) Arrive Brighton 10.40am (or 10.46)
Currently, the timing is dep Rye at 8.55am, arr Brighton 10.20am. So somewhat slower !! So VERY BAD
- All MarshLink services will stop at Ore
- There seem to be issues with stops at Winchelsea to be investigated
MLAG will be continuing its negotiations on these with Southern as part of the further consultation process.
Long term forecast
30 June is the last day for responding to Network Rail’s Kent Area Route Study, looking at (from the MarshLink perspective) infrastructure upgrades that would permit two trains per hour (“2tph”) and the extension of the Javelin service along the line – see previous reports in Rye News Online.
Network Rail’s Technical Study appeared to be positive, giving substantial detail of works that would be needed to achieve 2tph and a Javelin service. MLAG arranged a presentation on 15 June by one of the authors of the Study: we are still at consultation stage, nonetheless, the presentation seemed to be couched in a positive tone so we feel more positive about progress (although there is still a long way to go).
MLAG’s response can be seen on our website under “News”.
To add to this positive feel, during this week, a long awaited report was published called the Gibb Report: this was on the very topical subject of the “changes required to improve the performance of the Southern network and train services and restore passenger confidence.” This included insight from many luminaries of the rail world and indicates further positive feelings within the industry. The report can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/619795/chris-gibb-report-southern-rail.pdf