New rolling stock brought from Scotland to bolster services on the Uckfield Line is still causing train operator Southern problems.
The company told UckfieldNews.com “there is more work to do” and admitted in recent days the service has not been good enough.
Last year platforms on the Uckfield Line were lengthened to accommodate ten-carriage trains to relieve over-crowding pressures.
Southern obtained more diesel units from ScotRail and, after a lengthy conversion period, the longer trains were phased into service.
The extra seats and space meant most people found a seat with those standing no longer crushed together.
In recent weeks, ten-car trains have become fewer and fewer. Other services have also been “short-formed”.
More work needed
Southern told us the company had put a great deal of work into the new trains to make them more reliable but there was more work to do with some new electrical issues – a wiring loom problem – which had since surfaced.
Inevitably, the company said, while repairs were being made, some services are “short-formed”, sometimes at short notice which “we fully acknowledge is frustrating for our passengers and for which we apologise”.
Services to and from London Bridge and the evening Oxted “shuttle” have also been affected by shortages of train crews.
Southern said that, under normal circumstances, it had enough drivers to run the full service. The temporary shortage was due to sickness, and one driver was affected by a recent fatality on the route, last week, near Eridge.
The company promised it was “working hard to ensure that the provision of services on the line becomes more resilient”.
A Southern spokesperson said: “Our service provision on the Uckfield Line in the past week or so is not good enough – our passengers deserve better and we are sorry.
“There are a number of factors which have contributed, including issues with the reliability of the recently acquired diesel trains, and a temporary short-notice issue with train crew availability.
“Although our overall performance on the Uckfield route is improving, we’re taking nothing for granted and are focused on getting it right.”