Call for Southern to hand over rail line after weekend of ‘incompetence’

The Mead School in Tunbridge Wells gave a professional level performance in the  ISA drama contests

Villagers were forced to take a rail replacement bus service over the bank holiday weekend when Southern did not run train services between Tonbridge and Redhill.

The operator has been accused of ‘incompetence’ after passengers were left to board buses at five stations; Leigh, Penshurst, Edenbridge, Godstone, and Nutfield.

Travellers were forced to watch in frustration as services operated by Southeastern sped through the stations, when engineering works between Tonbridge and Orpington meant Southeastern trains were re-directed ‘the long way’, via Redhill and East Croydon.

This added around 15 minutes on to travel times, and meant the journey from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge took around one hour.

A spokesman for Southern said: ‘During the current short-timetable amendment we have organised to have standby buses at strategic locations on our network to quickly assist with any late notice alterations to our train service.’

The franchise holder has recently been criticised after making the Tonbridge to Redhill line a shuttle service, with no link to London.

John Reynolds, Chairman of Tonbridge Line Commuters, a pressure group, called for the line to come under Southeastern’s control.

He said: “Southern forgot to tell Network Rail they wanted to run any trains between Tonbridge and Redhill over the bank holiday weekend.

‘As a result, passengers for all intermediate stations have had to suffer a long and inconvenient bus journey.

‘This is despite the fact that the route was open and Southeastern’s diverted services were running on it. Southern’s incompetence merely demonstrates their indifference to this line.

‘They have lost all credibility and should hand over the keys to Southeastern.”

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