Summary of AGM reports
As is usual as it takes a while for the minutes to be transposed and checked I thought I’d give my impressions from the AGM as a stopgap until the minutes are available later in the year.
We had a good turnout of Members at the AGM and they heard from Crispin Blunt – MP Reigate and Banstead, Alex Foulds – Passenger Services Director GTR Southern, Phil Hutchinson – Head of Strategic Planning GTR and Mike Smith – Route Enhancement Manager, Network Rail South East Route
Thanks to Gillian Ryan and Michael Fife for organising the evening and running membership, Elizabeth Warren for running round with the microphone and Robin Grant, Sara Pont and Stephen Rolph for generally helping.
We opened the meeting with the normal official business, approving the committee and accepting the treasures and membership reports. I missed ratification of new Association Terms of Reference which will be passed by email now.
In my Chairman’s address I highlighted the following: –
- The lack of positives along the Redhill Route for Passengers
- 10 Years of Pain for the Redhill route passenger service
- 2006/7 – loss of regular Brighton trains
- 2007/8 – loss of fast trains to London Bridge
- 2012 – loss of first peak train to London Bridge
- 2014 – loss of 5 peak services to London Bridge
- 2015 – loss of half of direct services to London Bridge o 2015 – Loss of half of Crawley services
- 2015 – Loss of most South Coast trains – Arun Valley
- GTR taking over Southern as existing company running Thameslink – all our train services under a single train company run from Whitehall by the Department for Transport
- RRDRUA took a petition with over 3,000 signatures asking for Fair Fares for Redhill route. The Under-Secretary of State (Claire Perry) actually complemented our proposal in a Parliamentary Debate
- Despite positive comments from the Under-Secretary the final response from the DfT was disappointing – saying we wouldn’t be considered until all similar stations are looked at then extending Oyster Zones to Dartford, Hertfordshire, Brentwood and Swanley.
- It is important to remember that DfT are the decision makers for our route not GTR Southern/Thameslink. DfT did not respond to request to attend our meeting
- Current level of services is abysmal
- Lack of on-time arrival of peak services
- Regular cuts by skip stopping
- PPM much worse along Redhill Route
- It is clear that the Redhill Route is the MISERY route of Southern
- We have asked for an action plan for the Redhill Route but we are still lost in Brighton line strategies
- Platform 0
- Project has been cut back from 4 through platforms to just 3 due to budget reductions
- In our opinion bad decision to make platform 1 a bay platform for GWR services
- Concern about risk when there are last-minute platform changes with 500 plus passengers having a last-minute swap of platforms through the subway. Not really enough space
Fairs Fare – Crispin Blunt MP
Our local MP Crispin Blunt stood up to update us on the Fares Fair campaign
- Assisted with submission of Petition
- Used a debate in Parliament to discuss the Redhill Route prices
- Continuing to put pressure on Department for Transport
Crispin is also a regular rail user and added personal views on how bad the service is.
Communications – Alex Foulds
I’d hoped this section would give an opportunity for GTR Southern to talk about improving communications and what they have done but very little new information was forthcoming.
Platform 0 Redhill, Platform 3 Reigate and SOLUM regeneration – Mike Smith
At RRDRUA we have been very disappointed that budget restrictions on signalling has meant this scheme has been massively reduced with Platform 1 being made a bay platform to allow Platform 0.
This means that platform 0 will become the main Northbound platform but will be just a plain platform with no facilities – no toilets, customer points or coffee shop so a major downgrade for passengers waiting.
For us the bigger concern will be when peak trains are swapped platforms between 0 and 2 which as we know happens a lot. The average train in the morning peak gets around 500 passengers so that number would have to leave one platform and go through the subway which we feel is potentially dangerous overcrowding.
Network Rail said they didn’t make any allowances and that it would not happen very often.
The potential for a third platform at Reigate was discussed. In 2018 there will be no through services to London Bridge as the new 12 car trains cannot fit in the station (nor at Tonbridge) by taking some of the car park a third platform can be added and trains to London Bridge restarted.
Network Rail have funding for feasibility stage only and they hope to have more funding to be able to build the platform in 2022.
We were also informed that Stoats Nest is unlikely to get a flyover again due to Budget cuts and thus Redhill trains will be forced along the slow lines meaning that more delays and slower journeys are our prospect.
The regeneration of Redhill station is still due to go ahead but awaits agreement between Solum and GTR about platform facilities and car parking. GTR have not agreed with Solum’s proposals.
Reliability – Alex Foulds
As usual this was an animated discussion where the emotions were very high. However, no real progress was made or promised.
2018 Timetable – Phil Hutchinson
As Chairman of RRDRUA I am very interested in the Dec 2018 timetable as it is the next major change to our services and will set the basis for the next 20 years. Thus it is important we engage with GTR and the DfT to ensure our best interests are covered.
At RRDRUA we have developed a service pattern we intend to fight for in the negotiation of this timetable: –
- 8 trains an hour from the Redhill route
- 2 fast & 2 slow to Victoria and 2 fast & 2 slow to London Bridge/Thameslink
- The Fasts to London Bridge/Thameslink would be the Horsham to Peterboroug services that call at Horley, Salfords, Earlswood and Redhill then fast to East Croydon and London Bridge.
- The Fasts to Victoria would pick up at Horley in one half hour and Coulsdon South in the other half hour and extend south of Gatwick to Brighton, enabling a half hourly express service from Redhill route to the South Coast. (these are an extension of our current Horsham to London Bridge services)
- The Slows to London Bridge would be the existing Three Bridges to Bedford services and would call at Redhill, Merstham, Coulsdon South, Purley, East Croydon, Norwood Junction and on to London Bridge/Thameslink.
- The Slows to Victoria would start at Tonbridge or Reigate and call at Redhill, Merstham, Coulsdon South, Purley, East Croydon, Clapham Junction and Victoria.
- We will campaign for the Victoria slows to split at Redhill, every half hour going to Reigate (doubling the number of Southern trains at Reigate) and then alternate half hours to Tonbridge or Gatwick Airport. The Three Bridges portion allowing hourly services from Earlswood, Salfords and Horley to Victoria which they only currently get during the peaks.
Phil spoke and he stated we would only get 6 trains per hour and the missing service would be the fast to Victoria which he said could not be timetabled. Thus the fast train to London will no longer be to Victoria but to London Bridge. Also the reward of faster trains to London for Reigate customers because they lost their London Bridge service has been very short lived.
He did say they are looking at the 2 trains per hour to Reigate as per our suggestion but wouldn’t promise.
GTR Customer Disputes – Alex Foulds
There has been a lot said about this the ticket office program and the Conductor dispute. Alex explained the plans from GTR and why they are proposing the changes. A lot has been written in the press about this topic and there is little to add.
Thank you to those that attended the meeting and I hope my impressions of the meeting are of interest. Full minutes will be distributed as soon as they are available.