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Massive shake up of Sussex train services announced
A new direct rail service could link Brighton to Cambridge and other towns north-east of London.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a massive shake-up of Sussex train services.
The changes could see a single company take on responsibility for services across the county.
Services from East Anglia will be directed to St Pancras station through a new tunnel.
From there they will continue to Blackfriars and London Bridge and destinations south of London.
A consultation has been launched on which destinations passengers want, which are likely to include East Croydon, Gatwick and Brighton.
Passengers are being asked for their views to help shape the major new franchise which is expected to cover most of the existing First Capital Connect service, including the Thameslink line which is undergoing a £6 billion upgrade.
Services currently run by Southern will be added to the new combined franchise from 2015. This would see a single train operator take responsibility for all rail services from Brighton to King’s Lynn.
Shelley Atlas, the chairman of passenger group Brighton Line Commuters, said she welcomed the fact that the consultation will give travellers affected by the new franchise a chance to say what train services they would like to see.
The study also asks the views of potential bidders on how they will improve the experience of passengers.
Ms Atlas said: “Anything which will enhance the train services for Brighton commuters is a good thing. I will send details of the consultation to my members and ask them to get involved.”
Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas MP said she hoped that the proposal would lead to a far better deal for passengers across Brighton and Hove.
She said: “We currently pay some of the highest rail fares in Europe, with services too often failing to reach a decent standard so this DfT consultation is a good opportunity for people in the city to tell the Government what they expect from their train services.”
Rail minister Theresa Villiers said the Government wants to hear a wide range of views on the services passengers want.
She said: “We are also seeking views on how to maximise the benefits of the Thameslink upgrade and how they should be shared between different communities along the line.
“This consultation outlines a number of standards we expect any new operator to deliver as a matter of course, including improvements to stations, better ticket-buying facilities and passenger information and good levels of punctuality. But we also want passengers, and anyone else with an interest in improving the railways, to tell us about other ways in which they think services could be better.”
The consultation closes on August 23.
The new franchise will start in September 2015 and run for a minimum of seven years.
The consultation document can be downloaded here.
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