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RAILWAY TO LONDON CLOSURE


The lines from Lewes to Three Bridges and from Brighton to Three Bridges will be totally closed for a week 16-24 February 2019.  This is to make life extra difficult for people who have extra childcare duties, because it is the school half term. 

There will also be total closure of these lines for the weekend  every weekend in October, and also on 3,10,24,25 November, Sunday 6th January, 9th-10th Feb.

In March the lines will be closed for the whole of the weekends beginning the 2nd, 23rd and 30th. In April the lines will be closed on the weekend beginning on Saturday 6th.  There will also be a closure on Sunday Mary 5th.

A planned closure at the autumn half term has been scrapped.  Presumably it is assumed that passengers will have calmed down after the recent disasters by the time February comes.

During the line closures, no trains will run between Three Bridges and Brighton or between Three Bridges and Lewes. Rail replacement buses will be in operation, as well as diverted train service between London and Brighton via Littlehampton.  However Lewesians may find it easier to get the bus to Uckfield and get a train from there.  However rush hour trains to and from Uckfield are crowded and services normally run to London Bridge rather than Victoria. Plus the 29 buses cannot be relied upon to keep to timetable.
 

RAILWAY TO SEAFORD CLOSURE full week

Saturday 18 August to Monday 27 August Lewes to Seaford
Engineers will be replacing the signalling equipment in a £20 million upgrade. Additional improvements will allow triple the number of trains to use the line as a diversionary route to and from Brighton when the main line is closed.

During this line closure rail replacement buses will operate every 10 minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes during off peak times. Additional buses will be available to provide extra capacity if needed.
 

COMPENSATION FOR RAILWAY DELAYS

Our local rail operator, GTR, has been forced into increasing compensation for season ticket holders, but holders will have to wait until GTR contacts them, which is unlikely to happen before the end of August.  However they will still have to provide evidence (see keep a record).  Those who GTR fails to contact will have to wait until GTR has finished dealing with the people it does contact.

Everyone else is supposed to use the “delay repay” system, which is supposed to apply if your train is delayed by more than 15 minutes (including trains that have been re-timetabled to run later or not at all.)  There are huge delays with this system and some people are wrongly refused. 18% of complainants are reported as being happy with the way GTR deals with request for refunds.

Apparantly GTR also operates a system offiering vouchers or a free ticket to people who suffer repeated delays, but to access this affected passengers will need to write a further letter of complaint.

Train companies have resolutely refused to take responsibility for consequential damages, such as missed events or appointments, but the Consumers Association says that since 2016 it is possible to bring a claim for consequential losses under the Consumer Rights Act. Many train companies deny all knowledge of this, although the press officer for GTR said that they allowed claims to be made within 28 days for any expenses over and above a refund of fares paid.

You need to write to the company saying that you want to complain under the Act and detailing your losses, saying why they occurred and on what services and including a copy of the tickets.

If a claim is rejected you can apply to Passenger Focus, who can recommend compensation.  From November there will be a Dispute Resolution Ombudsman whose decisions will be binding on railway companies.

You can also make a small claims claim in the county court  Train companies often fail to respond to these claims, so the court often awards money. It is not uncommon to make a small claims court claim when a delay repay application has not been dealt with, to get compensation via the court and then via the delay repay scheme.
 
(With thanks to the Consumers Association and the Financial Times)
 

RAIL CONSULTATION

The Rail Delivery Group (made up of Train Operating Companies)  along with the rail passenger organisation, Transport Focus are asking for public comments on how to restructure and simplify train fares. The consultation is open and runs until 10 September 2018.

This is the first major review of how train fares are structured and how train fares can be purchased since the early 1990s. That's before the Internet became widely used and before contactless payments were invented. The rail fare system is still based on a clunky magnetic ticketing system which is very difficult to modify and change.

Recommendations will be made to the government in the autumn following the consultation which could bring about a much fairer, more equitable and easier fare system. However the computer experts and ticket administrators sitting in their offices don't necessarily have all the best ideas so this is our opportunity to tell them what we want. Please make your comments:

Click HERE to give your views 

This consultation is not about the quality of service or lack of it, getting rid of GTR in the southern railway network, overcrowding or resolving the chaotic way in which the rail companies introduced timetable changes.
(Thanks to Vic Ient for this article)
 

CYCLE LEWES PROPOSED CYCLING STRATEGY FOR LEWES

Cycle Lewes, our local cycling group, has come up with a proposed cycling strategy for the town.  They would like comments on it.  You can find the proposals here

They would therefore be pleased to receive comments by Monday, 10th September 2018.  Please could you email them to info@cyclelewes.org.uk

Speak up now or do not complain if your pet plan is not adopted.
 

DO YOU WALK ON THE PATHS ABOVE AND AROUND THE OFFHAM CHALK PITS?

Probably most people have done at some point in their lives, particularly if they live on the west side of town.
 
But none of these paths is on the rights of way map so, in theory, any one of them could be stopped up at any time.
 
So, although there is no immediate threat, the Ramblers Association is setting out to add the paths to the rights of way map by collecting evidence that they have been used by the public for the past 20 years. (since 1998)  If you have walked on some or all of these paths please download  a description and form which you can find here  and return it to the address on the form.
 
I put this appeal in last month’s Travel Log but have not had that many replies.  So if you were thinking about doing it  but have not yet done so now is the time. And if you have friends of family members who might have used the paths please get them to fill in the form as well.
 

UPDATE ON OTHER ROUTES I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET ON THE RIGHTS OF WAY MAP.

From time to time I ask you to fill in forms to show that you have used local paths so that they can be added to the rights of way map and thus protected.  You may well be wondering what has happened to the evidence that you have provided.
East Sussex County Council tells me that it is taking about 3 years to make decisions on these paths, which I think is not good enough.  I have asked the planning inspectorate to tell them to get a move on.  One result of this is that the council must now make a decision on the bridleway to the north of the Lewes racecourse buildings, where the owner has unilateral moved the bridleway to the edge of their land, within the next 6 months.

They also tell me that the routes from Grange Road to the Course, along Love Lane Winterbourne and from Love Lane alongside the railway, will be added to the rights of way map shortly because there is no dispute about these.

I have asked the planning inspectorate to instruct East Sussex council to get a move on over the right of way through Clevedown, where the land owner, Sussex Housing and Care, has so far neither opposed or agreed the existence of a right of way.

I have also applied for the eastern end of Spences Lane, Malling to be added to the rights of way map, as it has more of the character of a footpath than a road, since all the traffic goes down Orchard Road.

I’m investigating the possibility that a bridleway may exist over Malling Down.

You can see a full list of currently outstanding claims for rights of way here
 

THE OPEN TOP BUS FROM LEWES TO EASTBOURNE- Last few weeks

Until last summer Lewes had never had an open top bus route, and if numbers of users this summer are low, it may never have one again.

But for the time being, this summer, every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday till the end of August, the Seaford and District bus company (based in Ringmer, obviously) is vintage, normally open top, buses to Eastbourne

There are four buses a day leaving Lewes bus station at 9.30, 11.15, 13.00 and 15.00 and travelling via Glyndebourne, Alfriston, Wilmington, Polgate  and Pevensey Castle.

The cost is £5 for an all-day ticket, but bus passes are not valid.  It’s the summer experience you must not miss.

Timetable for the 124 service is here

 

 
 

PAVEMENT PARKING- CAMPAIGN BY GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND

“Pavement parking makes me feel scared! Walking in the road to go around a pavement parked car is scary if you can see, but even worse when you can’t!” Emma, guide dog owner.

1,000 days is a long time to wait when your safety is put at risk by dangerous pavement parking. By September, that’s exactly how long it will have been since the UK Parliament promised to find out how a new law on pavement parking would work. Will you join guide dog owners and campaigners like Emma in asking the Government to stop stalling on this promise? 

 In August, we’ll be taking to the streets across the country to collect signatures for an open letter calling on the Government to end the thousand days of delay on pavement parking. Can we count you in? If you can spare a couple of hours on any day during 13-19 August  . sign up here to help in your local area.
 

READERS WRITE


TRAIN FORMATIONS
Laurissa Tokarchuk comments:

“Just to say the changes to the formations of the off peak trains are making life increasingly difficult for commuters work non standard hours. I (and many others I commute with) have structured our work around being able to do some work on the train. However it is now a struggle to get a seat at lewes! The trains are standing room by the time Lewes loads passengers. By Gatwick, the trains are so busy that people can’t even get on. Apart from people like me needing that time for working, it is unacceptable that they seem to think it is okay to expect many commuters to stand for well over an hour.”

COASTWAY CONNECTIONS
Ian  Cairns continues his consideration of changing trains from the East to the West Coastway from the last newsletter

“Actually the situation is even more bizarre. Many times the outgoing westwards train (at Brighton) is timetabled a couple of minutes after the incoming Seaford train - just time for someone fit and in the know to sprint across the station (providing you arrive on time). However this 'connection' will not show up in national rail enquiries which ignore the earlier train and suggest that you instead wait around for 30mins while you watch the train you could have caught (but didn't know it) departing.

I am writing this from the French Haut Pyrenees where on Tuesday I am booked to get from the depths of the mountains to London by rail in 10hrs all for 80 EUR! Will I make  the last train back to Seaford I wonder?”

GETTING TO VICTORIA

Richard Partridge writes:

“I have given up booking any tickets from Lewes to/via London when I am going further north/west, or when time is of the essence.....I get the bus to Brighton for a better choice of trains. This is because trains are cancelled too frequently, and I  am now very wary of the half-hourly Lewes to London service.

It is confirmed by getting back to Victoria to find cancellations regularly on the departure board.

Today, 5 Jul, there has been a meltdown because, yet again, of 'signalling problems'. In the so-called bad old days of British Rail, I travelled six miles to and from school in Wimbledon six days a week for seven years - a delay, let alone a cancellation, was a rarity.....Of course, in those days, signals were operated by chaps pulling levers.....!

Maria Caulfield is right - where was the back-up? Network Rail is a Government 'in house' organisation.... But she voted last week for Grayling to keep his job.....Party before constituents.....?!!”
 

THIS MONTH’S WALKS

This month the walks have been chosen with the aim of getting away from the crowds.

Away from it all in Hooe
The walk starts and ends at Normans Bay station. Seaside, marshland, biodiversity, big sky and panoramic views, tranquil farmland, gentle hills, a lost village, a hidden church, a nearly forgotten prison, smugglers trails – a walk of contrasts where you are likely to have the walk to yourselves.  An opportunity for a drink or a swim at the end. 10km/ 6.5 miles

Paths less travelled- Ringmer to Berwick
A traverse of the lonely Laughton levels.  Savour the joys of solitude and a surprising variety of scenery. 13.34 Km / 8.29 miles on level ground,

Secret Lanes of Lower Dicker.
5.5miles 8.9km Beautiful secret lanes, level walking, quiet fields, lovely undiscovered woodland and a link with the second world war Normandy landings. A secret waiting to be discovered. One part that may be a little overgrown, but there is an alternative.

Ore and More
A very varied walk, exploring the urban and rural facets of North East Hastings, including the amazing Specked Wood, the panoramic views from North Seat, the countryside north of the Ridge, and the atmospheric ruins of the Old St Helens Church
 

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