This is our draft response to the Sussex Outline Route Plan, for which comments are invited.

You can download the full text of the Sussex Outline Plan – Draft Response (pdf 154 KB).

RRDRUA response to South East Route: Sussex Area Route Study Draft 2014

Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users’ Association established in 1983 represents the passengers from the stations along the Redhill route, Reigate and Nutfield. We have obtained Feedback from our members on these comments through direct emails and through our Facebook page (with 500 plus followers) and have ensured they follow the majority view. We have restricted our comments on areas that affect our route.

Rail Users in our district have three main concerns about our local Rail provision:

  • Unfair Fares
  • Service Provision
  • Regular Delays to services much of which is due to inadequate infrastructure

The Route Study Draft covers the last two areas.

For Redhill area users the train service has been regressing due to lack of investment in infrastructure and by creating additional stops on fast services and withdrawing others. Reigate currently only has an hourly service to London off-peak and none in the evenings or Sundays. Redhill trains are calling at additional stops and the Coast services are planned to be withdrawn in Dec 2015.

The most significant flow of passengers is towards London but other major employment areas requiring commutes from Redhill area include Gatwick, Crawley, Horsham, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and Brighton. From December 2015 the last three will no longer have a direct service plus Crawley and Horsham will be restricted to slow trains only increasing journey time by 40% and a cut of 50% in services. There is a strong level of leisure travel to London, Crawley, Gatwick and Brighton.

We are concerned that the route study looks at the Redhill route as a small part of the Brighton Main Line rather than as a route in its own right needing services to various destinations. Using the Network Rail Station Usage Statistics for 2013/14 shows that at least 10% of passenger traffic south of East Croydon on the BML originates from the Redhill route and we feel it should have individual consideration.

We are also concerned that the Route Study is not using correct figures in respect of the Redhill Route. It states that trains during morning peak are 85-100% utilised for seating capacity with some standing.

We ran a survey on our Facebook group for a week in December 2014 asking customers to define the usage on trains they were travelling in by 5 levels:

1. Seats available
2. A little standing near doors
3. Door area full standing
4. Standing right through the carriage (including aisles)
5. Too packed to let people on

We had over a hundred responses and the conclusion was that almost all trains departing from Redhill route stations between 6:30 and 8:00 were at Level 4 or above which would suggest 100% of seating used and significant standing. This shows that you are making estimates from figures that are not representative of the situation and we ask that you rework your figures to allow for this before making final conclusions.

Reducing Delays at Redhill

The main reasons for delays caused by problems at Redhill stem from the lack of investment for several years. Three key examples are: –

Example 1: When splitting trains in the evening in Platform 3 the following train cannot enter from the North of the station due to a lack of crossover after last signal before station. This has meant on numerous occasions long delays occur on failure to split because the following train is stuck and can’t be diverted to platform 2, and in cases where a fix cannot be found, often has to pass through the station on the through roads meaning passengers have to double back at Earlswood (an unmanned station in the evenings without facilities for hundreds of passengers suddenly arriving).

Example 2: The throat at the south of the station is not well organised so Trains queue up south of the station. The key reason is because trains from Tonbridge cannot enter platform 2 at the same time a northbound train from the mainline arrives in platform 1. Gatwick services leaving platform 1B also block the main line. This congestion regularly adds 5 or 10 minute delays to trains. This is made worse by a speed restriction between Earlswood and Redhill meaning trains cannot get to full speed.

Example 3: Severe Lack of capacity in the subway means that it can take over 5 minutes for passengers to get off platform 3 in the peak and thus some may miss services for Reigate or Tonbridge that are starting from platform 1a.

Platform 0 will provide extra space for Reading – Gatwick trains to reverse without blocking platform 1 or 2, but to improve reliability of services and thus address the concerns of Rail Users at Redhill it will be necessary to improve the layout of the station throats at both ends of the station.

We strongly support the work to improve the layout of tracks at Redhill and consider it vital to the good performance of services at Redhill that the station throat work is included in CP6. It is our preference for it to be done in December 2017 along with the works for platform 0 as not only would mean reduction of costs for Network Rail as only setting up preliminaries and closing Redhill once, but will also reduce disruption for passengers to a single period of major works. It is our view that this work would also increase reliability of Thameslink services through Redhill in Dec 2018 when they are fully introduced.

We would request that these issues be considered again and a review of the Cost/benefit analysis be done to both have the new platform and throat be worked together and the benefit of the existing plan looked at in line with the larger overcrowding on trains from Redhill than considered previously. It appears the analysis has only been made in respect of an additional semi-fast train from Haywards Heath – this does not provide the benefit of a half hourly train to Brighton that is desired from Redhill so the extension of this service to Brighton should be considered.

Station Facilities Capacity at Redhill

As noted in Example 3 above there is insufficient capacity in the subway particularly when exiting from platform 3 off a peak hour train. We would like to see a review made to ensure that there is sufficient capacity at Redhill to enable clearance of platforms in reasonable time – in particular looking at the former Post Office Bridge to see if it can be converted to a footbridge between platforms. This will become more necessary once platform 0 is brought into service.

Turning Capacity for Reigate (Reigate platform 3)

We are strongly supportive of an additional platform at Reigate for 12 coach or less trains. Reigate is both an employment centre in its own right plus a commuter town currently underserved by trains to and from London. Currently the service is 2 direct trains in the peak and an hourly direct off peak service during the day to London Bridge with no evening or Sunday service. Since introduction of the off-peak London Bridge service, station usage at Reigate has increased by over 236% now showing 1.7 million entries a year making it a much larger station in need of additional services.

We believe that Reigate should have two London bound trains per hour during off-peak, evening and all weekend. Thus the station should have capacity for at least 2 electric trains per hour all day to London. However using platform 2 means that the terminating trains are blocking the line for Reading – Gatwick services. So the provision of Platform 3 in the location of the current siding for terminating trains should be a high priority to increase capacity.

This could be achieved by moving the crossover closer to Redhill and converting the siding into a terminus platform road allowing for 12 coach trains but not necessarily with platform along full length perhaps initially limited to 4 coaches for now and use SDO for 12 coach trains to keep costs down. That way it can be used by 12 coach trains in emergency only but creates provision for 4 coach trains all day without blocking the Reading-Gatwick North Downs trains.

It could be possible to extend the existing platforms but both platforms would need to be made bi-directional with scissor crossovers either end of the platforms so North Down’s trains can use either platform. As the local Rail user association we prefer the 12 coach platform and do not support this option.

Peak Service to London

It is noted that in Fig 2.7 for 2018 services it shows 4 peak trains per hour from Redhill Route to London Bridge and 4 trains per hour to London Victoria which has been proposed previously as the required optimum service.

However paragraph 2.3.1 states that only 2 trains per hour will be provided to Victoria as per Govia’s current 2018 plans. We have not been informed of this and would like more details so we can understand the impact. The current service is 4 London trains per hour in the peak so this will be a 50% reduction in provision and considering the current overcrowding from the Redhill route stations on these services this is not acceptable. We would appreciate proper consultation on this before any Route Study or timetable is set for 2018.

As an additional note the table 3.13 (2018 high peak hour) shows 4 trains to Victoria and capacity of 4,752 when in reality it will be 2 trains and a capacity of 2,376 which compares to 2,871 today (which is in fact wrong as the table states 3 trains and there are 4 trains currently – 3×8 coach 377 and 1×12 coach 377 which results in even more capacity to be lost). A sharp reduction of capacity. This note needs correcting if the Caption is correct.

In any case we strongly reject any reduction in the service level from Redhill to Victoria in the peak.

Capacity Created for Services to the Coast from Redhill

The Route Study suggests that the Redhill route should get a semi-fast train through Haywards Heath before 2030. The loss of direct services to the South Coast in the proposed December 2015 timetable will be keenly felt at Redhill along with the 50% reduction in Crawley/Horsham services and moreover with a 40% decrease in fastest journey times.

As commented above we are very keen for the leisure and commuting travel south from Redhill to be considered by this route study

We are supportive of the Semi-fast train but strongly require that it should be running as soon as possible and extended to Brighton. The loss of connectivity to the south from the Redhill route has made it effectively a dead end branch rather than the through services it should have.

Stoats Nest Junction

A key cause of delays at Redhill is the crossing on the flat of the South bound fast line at Stoats Nest and we very are supportive of the flyover proposal. We note this is for Northbound trains only and means the slow lines will be crossed at a flat junction still but the slow lines are relatively low usage so risk of delays is minimal.

We believe this will also increase capacity on the South bound main line through the Quarry route as it will remove delays for Northbound trains to cross in front of Southbound trains thus reducing potential conflicts. This doesn’t seem to be allowed for in the cost benefit analysis.

Additionally the provision of this flyover would also allow more services to run along the fast lines from the Redhill route from Stoats Nest to East Croydon, reducing the need to run along the slow lines where significant congestion occurs due to the branches to Caterham, Tattenham Corner and Oxted routes merging with the slow lines, enabling these lines to run extra services. This is important to increase traffic along the Redhill route and to increase speed from Redhill to London

We thus strongly support the provision of the flyover at Stoats Nest. We would also like confirmation that the benefits include those listed above which we believe would improve the cost/Benefit return of the work.

East Croydon and Windmill Junction

We strongly support the proposals to create a grade separated junction at Windmill Junction by allowing the London Bridge main lines to go on a new flyover.

We also strongly support the additional platforms at East Croydon to reduce congestion which has become a key issue.

Other Issues

Victoria – we support the proposals to improve the track work and signalling to the station to enable trains to access the station and depart faster.

Clapham Junction – we support the plan to re-signal the area to ensure lower headway between trains. All trains should stop at Clapham Junction including the Gatwick Express.

ATO – East Croydon to London – again we strongly support this idea to increase train capacity and enable more services to be run.

North Downs Services

We support the idea of more and faster trains along this corridor as long as the Dorking and Reigate stops are continued. These additional services should not be considered until Reigate has two trains per hour to London and Redhill has services to the South Coast reinstated.

We look forward to discussing these points in greater detail with you and if you require any further details or explanations please feel free to contact us.