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MAY18 NEWSLETTER

 

 

 

TRAIN TIMETABLES- ALL CHANGE

On Sunday May 20 the times of nearly every train on Southern and Thameslink change in the biggest shake up for years.

Some idea of the concern about the changes can be gauged by the fact that 3 weeks before the change we were still being told that the timetables were subject to change.  Perhaps it is a good idea to avoid the trains in late May until they have got things sorted.

There will be further changes in December.

As a general rule there will be more trains and some of them will be longer, but they will be slower.  We are being told that this is to allow more time at stations because there are more passengers, but some people allege that more time is needed because the guard is not shutting the doors.

You can see the full proposed timetables here but below is a summary of the Monday to Friday service:

TRAINS TO LONDON

Rush hour trains leave Lewes for London at 5.11, 5.45, 6.16, 6.45, 7.01* 7.16, 7.46, 8.14, 8.48.  All go to Victoria except the 7.01 which goes to London Bridge.

Rush hour trains leave London Victoria for Lewes at 16.45, 17.15, 17.45 and 18.15.  A train leaves London Bridge at 17.33.

During the day the recently introduced idea of one faster train to London and one slower each hour is abandoned. Instead trains leave Lewes at 20 past and 48 (sometimes 45) minutes past the hour, arriving about one hour and ten minutes later. 

Off peak returns leave Victoria at 16 and 46 minutes past the hour until 22.46. The last train is at two minutes past midnight.

BRIGHTON

There will now be six trains an hour, running at 3, 13, 23, 33, 43, 53 minutes past the hour and they will all have at least 3 coaches.  All trains will stop at Falmer, but the 3 minutes past will not stop at London Road and the 33 minutes past will not stop at Moulscombe or London Road.

There is a similar service coming back at 1 minute past the hour and every 10 minutes after that. The last train from Brighton is at 23.41.

GOING EAST

The big news is that there are no more 2 coach through trains to Ashford.  If you want to go to Rye or Ashford you will have to change at Eastbourne or Hastings for the Ashford train. You may have to get this train if you want to go to one of the less popular stations between Eastbourne and Hastings.

To get the Rye or Ashford you will typically get the 15 minutes past the hour train from Lewes and change at Eastbourne or Hastings, arriving at Rye an hour and a half later than you started out, and Ashford nearly two hours later.  This makes through trips to Kent via the south coast very difficult.

Typical departures going east are:

15 minutes past the hour to Glynde, Polegate, Eastbourne and stations to Hastings and Ore

24 minutes past to Polegate, Hampden Park, Eastbourne

47 minutes past  to Berwick, Polegate Eastbourne, then fast to Bexhill, Hastings,

54 minutes past the hour to Polegate, Eastbourne and stations to Hasting and Ore

Typical return departures are from:

Hastings: 04, 25, 40

Eastbourne:00, 11, 25, 38

Berwick: 52

Glynde: 27

All minutes past the hour.

SEAFORD

Trains typically leave at 29 and 59 minutes past the hour, returning from Seaford at 25 and 53 minutes past the hour.

DISCOVERY TICKETS ON THE BUSES

These tickets will allow you to travel on pretty much any bus in the whole region (except some school buses and some open top style sightseeing routes)

Brian Davis reports that all operators are increasing the price of the Discovery Ticket from the 1st of May and it will cost £9.00 Adult or £7.20 Child or £17.50 Family (up from the current £8.50 Adult or £7.00 Child or £16.00 Family).

 

He says that there is very little publicity about this change so it wouldn't surprise him if some bus operators are unaware and will continue to sell it for the old price after the 1st of May.

Brian comments “It should still be good value if travelling long distance or using a lot of buses but it is still much more expensive than the now defunct Explorer ticket which back in 2012 could be bought for as low as £4.80 (or as high as £8.80) depending on what bus operator you bought it on!”

BLUEBELL WALKS

As the bluebells have only just come out, here are details of local bluebell woods accessible by public transport.

Don’t follow the sheep driving to Bluebell walks that charge you.

Get the bus to some local bluebell woods and have them to yourself.  Woods worth checking out include

  • woods round Chailey, especially Starvecrow Wood/Markstakes Common just east of South Chailey (bus 121)(Horns Lodge pub nearby),
  • Knowlands Walk and Burtenshaw Wood just north of Barcombe (bus 122)(Royal Oak pub in Barcombe)
  • Folly Wood and Blunts Wood (just north of the Rainbow Pub Cooksbridge) buses 121 and 122,
  • Warningore Wood west of Cooksbridge (buses 121, 122 and 166 go nearby).
  • You could also try Cuckoo Bottom inside the racecourse (see the “Inside the racecourse” walk on the web site)

 Remember that you need to keep to rights of way in woodland unless there is public access to the whole wood.

BIG LEMON WALKS

Brighton environmentally aware bus company is running a series of organised walks, with transport  through the summer. They start from the Old Steine, so you could get the 28 or 29 to the start, or you may be able to persuade them to pick up in the Lewes for the walks where the bus passes by the town.  Here are the details


3rd June – Battle of Hastings
Bexhill to Battle – Forewood, 1066 battlefield - 7.1 miles ending at The Bull. 
Further info and tickets here.

17th June – Blackcap & Plumpton

Plumpton Green to Plumpton - 4.7 miles ending at The Half Moon. 
Further info and tickets here.

1st July – Butcher's Hole Bottom, Filching Manor & The Long Man

Friston to Alfriston - 8.2 miles ending at The Star. 
Further info and tickets here.

22nd July – The Greengage Trail
Firle to Berwick - 4.6 miles ending at The Cricketers. 
Further info and tickets here. 

5th August – Following the Border
Fishergate to Ditchling - 12.2 miles ending at The Bull. 
Further info and tickets here.

19th August – Ouse Valley Viaduct
Ardingly to Lindfield - 8.8 miles ending at The Stand Up. 
Further info and tickets here.

2nd September – Reservoirs & Moats 
Arlington Reservoir to Upper Dicker - 7.2 miles ending at The Plough. 
Further info and tickets here.

7th October – Seven Sisters
Exceat to East Dean - 4.4 miles ending at The Tiger Inn. 
Further info and tickets here!

BIG LEMON BUSES TO SUMMER FESTIVALS

Big Lemon are also running buses to various festivals this summer. Buses will depart from the Old Steine.

12th – 16th July - Latitude Festival

To book your seat on one of our coaches please click here

2nd – 6th August - Bestival Festival

To book your seat on one of our coaches please click here

9th – 13th August - Boomtown Festival

To book your seat on one of our coaches please click here

OTHER DAYS OUT BY BUS AND COACH

L J Edwards are a Hailsham based firm running coach day trips and holidays.  Some of their trips pick up in Lewes at the layby by the Jireh chapel.  Others pick up near Eastbourne and Polegate stations.

Big Lemon are running two trips from Brighton Old Steine

19th May - Portsmouth Sightseeing & Shopping To book your seat click here
19th August - Arundel Castle & Gardens To book your seat click here

Brighton buses are offering an number of days out under their “Spirit of Sussex” brand.  Details here. The nearest pickup point to Lewes is normally Pool Valley bus station at the old Steine.

READERS WRITE

Simon Temple writes:

“Great feature on rail holidays in the April edition.

However the sleeper to Madrid doesn't run any more....but you can easily get to Barcelona in a day by changing in Paris.

A really good sleeper option is to get the Thello sleeper from Paris to Venice (or change at Milan for the rest of the Italian network). You can book online at www.thello.com. The trains are a bit 1970s but well maintained and very clean.

Another option is to go to Frankfurt and then the sleeper to Vienna. This is operated by OBB, since Deutshe Bahn pulled out of the sleeper market. We haven't used this but I expect it will be good

....and coming soon, the new Caledonian Sleeper trains to Scotland!”

Nicholas Tucker says

It is clearly useful for Lewes travellers to London to possess a Thames Govia timetable in addition to the Southern one when working out possible trains to Lewes via Brighton when coming back. But neither Lewes nor Victoria carry any. They should try thinking of their passengers rather than merely sticking to their franchise. I have now written to my MP asking her to put pressure on the Lewes booking office to change their ways, and will report back on any success.

THIS MONTH’S WALKS

With the days getting longer, here are some walks a little further away than usual

Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest is one of the great heath lands of Southern Britain. It sits on the highest ridge top of the High Weald and is the largest free public access space in the South East.  Sadly it is infested with cars.  But this walk lets you explore the Forest using frequent buses. 10km, 6 miles.

Rotherfield Ramble

An exploration of the delightful High Weald south of Tunbridge Wells  featuring woodland, streams and the hill village of Rotherfield, using the 29 bus from Lewes  7.5 miles

Wild Wealden Woodland Wander

 Once the High Weald was heavily wooded.  A lot of woodland still remains. This walk takes you through the woodland that you can see from the train between Balcombe and Three Bridges Stations. The woodlands have been described as areas of “intimacy, seclusion and tranquillity  8.5 miles stating and finishing at Three Bridges station.

The Rye and Cambler Cheeky Girls Walk

A walk linking one of the most beautiful and historic towns in the South East with one of the best beaches in the region, using the track of an old tramway.  A great walk any time, but particularly on a sunny day. 4 miles / 6.4 km, 1hr 20 minutes, flat.  Do it know while you can still get a direct train.

Frack Off!  Balcombe and the High Weald

 Forget Beachy Head and the South Downs, The High Weald is the best place for walking in Sussex.This walk, which is easy to get to from many parts of the south east, introduces you to the some joys of the High Weald and also to one of the threats to it. 6 miles, 10 km

Marching to Battle

A lovely varied walk through Wealden woods and hills, using the London to Hastings Railway and ending at famous Battle.  It starts at Robertsbridge Station, which may seem a long way from Lewes, but if you consult Travel Line South East to get a good connection, you can be there in little more than an hour. 7.4 miles/12km.  Rolling hills and a couple of moderately steep climbs

BRIGHTON BUS PROFITS

This article is taken from “Brighton Buswatch

“On 10 April The Argus ran a front page headline ‘DISGRACEFUL’ commenting on the £15 million profit made by Brighton & Hove Buses. This represents a 16% profit margin which I explained to their reporter was high for the transport industry. I was quoted as being “shocked and disappointed” which was accurate, based on that information. There is no doubt that our largest bus company is in a very healthy financial position. Passengers are rightly annoyed, because fares were increased in January, just nine months after the previous increase. At the same time frequencies were reduced on some routes, especially at weekends. The 21/21A service between Whitehawk and Brighton Marina was halved to just hourly, where two years ago it ran every 15 minutes. Night buses were cut back and completely withdrawn from some areas with no prior consultation. Not surprisingly this led to lots of complaints and petitions.

 Towards the end of last year Buswatch was informed there had been a downturn in bus use. This was partly attributed to the temporary closure of North Street and the roadworks at Lewes Road/Elm Grove junction. We were told the company needed to take action and changes would be implemented in January, three months ahead of the normal timetable change in April. Bus users might have expected a reduction in fares to encourage people back on buses - which are certainly more reliable now - but apart from a small ‘kids free’ promotion in December there have been no special offers. Instead it feels as though passengers are being discouraged with higher fares. The recently published financial results refer to the year to July 2017. If profitability has fallen since, the drop cannot be large as there are still plenty of people using buses.

 Here is a different view: there is no doubt The Argus was looking for a sensational headline, with some justification. The following day they reported an interview with Brighton & Hove’s Managing Director Martin Harris in which he defended the company position. The company had re-invested profits in over thirty new buses in 2017. The number of buses allocated to the busiest services also had been increased to take account of worsening traffic congestion, which made those services more expensive to run. It has recently announced ambitious plans to move towards all electric fleet by around 2030. Brighton & Hove is a well-run company and MD Martin Harris is a career busman with a clear vision of the future. He has attended our meetings several times and has never given the impression his company is obsessed with making money. The company has financial targets like any other business and 2017 was clearly a good year.

 Reaction on social media mostly related to fares so that is clearly the biggest issue. A few people did defend the profits. Brighton is good bus territory, densely populated with low car ownership, high numbers of students, lots of visitors, plenty of bus lanes, difficult and expensive parking and hilly terrain. So it is no great surprise that more people use buses in this city (per head of population) than anywhere else outside London. Despite two decades of growth, against a national trend of downward bus use, there are signs our local buses may be losing their appeal.

 Bus companies face big challenges to avoid losing more passengers. If the closure of North Street for just six weeks impacts on profitability what is going to happen when the two-year long Valley Gardens project gets under way? There are other issues too, the bike share scheme is a huge success, Uber cabs are gaining ground, people are walking and cycling more to keep fit, and more people are working from home. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, but they mean buses are no longer the first option for many people, so bus operators need to up their game.

 Brighton & Hove Buses needs to do more to show it values its customers. The erratic opening of the Churchill Square kiosk is a clear failure. Passengers like to seek advice from real people, especially when services are disrupted. Bland messages at bus stops telling people to ‘Go to Sea Life Centre for routes 12, 12X etc’ are useful but they don’t help visitors who don’t know their way around. There should be more staff at busy City Centre stops to give information on the best alternatives. Spare buses should be available to provide free shuttle services from Churchill Square to connect with buses when they are starting from Old Steine or Sea Life Centre.

 Buses need to be cleaner too, inside and out. Passengers don’t want to see torn copies of Metro strewn all over the floor. A few years ago we suggested cleaners on buses at strategic points like Churchill Square. The Council offered to provide extra bins for the cleaners, but nothing happened. Route branded buses should run on the correct routes; there is no point painting a route number and map on the side if it is wrong and confuses people. Worst offenders are the purple and gold ‘Regency Route’ buses which should be on the 28 & 29 to Lewes, Ringmer and Tunbridge Wells. Every day several are used on short city services, so long distance passengers are given old buses which have uncomfortable and worn out seats and rattle constantly. The recent trial of two smart new high spec ‘ADL Enviro’ buses won some fantastic reviews on social media. It was a great idea to put them on the 21, 23 & 46 where new buses are rarely seen, so they made a bigger impact. Let’s have some of these soon and put some on these routes to replace the oldest buses.

 The company needs to lobby harder for new bus lanes and other priority measures such as improving the flow of buses at the Clock Tower junction. It needs to seek funding to experiment with new routes across the city so people can get around without going through the City Centre. Contactless card payments (already available on Stagecoach buses) should be introduced to speed up boarding.

 

Brighton Area Buswatch will continue to press for improvements. We are not a protest group, but we are passionate about getting more people to travel by bus. Good bus services help to solve our traffic problems and reduce emissions.”

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