PROTESTS broke out over rail fare rises as commuters continued to suffer travel chaos.

The Action for Rail group took part in protests against yesterday's introduction of a near two per cent fare hike.

This was double last year's increase, despite a year of misery for commuters with ongoing cancellations, delays and strikes.

Campaigners took to stations across Sussex at the morning and evening rush hours including Hove, Preston Park and London Road in Brighton, Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Pulborough, Arundel and Hastings.

Southern services from Brighton to London Victoria ground to a halt yesterday because staff were continuing to take part in an overtime ban even though it was not a strike day. This prompted more anger from commuters.

A picture also emerged claiming to show a packed Barnham crew room yesterday morning, at the same time passengers claimed they were being told Southern had to cancel trains because no staff were available.

An Aslef spokesman said the picture showed it was “simply not true" that staff were unavailable and it was "outrageous that, as fares soar again, Southern was telling bare-faced lies". Meanwhile National Express launched a non-stop Brighton to London coach service during the planned Aslef strikes next week to help commuters get to work.

Brighton to London commuters will now have to pay nearly £980 more than in 2010, research claimed, while studies suggested British commuters pay six times more than some European counterparts. Action for Rail claimed regular passengers spend as much as 14 per cent of their salary on travelling to work by train.

Protester Jane Mote, 53, who lives near Pulborough station and commutes everyday to London for work, may have to move her office to Arundel because of the problems. She said she could not believe the crisis was still going on and the Government had "the nerve" to continue with fare hikes, adding "It's insulting".

Durrington to London commuter Brad Rees has made a mobile phone app so fed up passengers can easily protest posters for the #MySouthernStory campaign while on the go.

The 42-year-old called on the Government to "step out of the shadows and take urgent intervention".

Passenger watchdog Transport Focus said Southern passengers should be exempt from this year's fare increase. But Trevor Tupper, of West Sussex Rail Users, said while he disagreed with the fare increase the decision was "enshrined in law".

The Department for Transport did not respond when asked by The Argus if it would freeze the fare increase for Sussex commuters.

Instead it released a statement in which transport secretary Chris Grayling defended the policy, saying wages were growing faster than regulated fares and the cap on fares helps annual season ticket holders save money. He said 97 per cent of every £1 spent on fares goes back into the railways.

In response to the picture released by Aslef a Southern spokesperson said: "There a a few drivers only in the picture - the rest are conductors - conductors who we cannot allocate trains to, due to the root cause of the service disruption today - the ASLEF overtime ban. Because of this, we have had to reduce the number of trains we can run. Due to the complexity of drivers' work patterns, this means some may be spare for part of their shift. We are using these drivers where possible to move carriages into position for each day's service or will run additional shuttles where we have trains available and can offer a robust service."


THE additional services from National Express will be on offer from January 9 to 14.

The £60 five day pass entitles them travel from Brighton Pool Valley coach station to London Victoria Coach Station at 5.45am or 6.15am, returning at 6pm or 6.30pm.

The company said it will add extra seats to the service to meet demand and tickets are available from

The service is in addition to its 15 daily departures to the capital between 04.50am and 8.40pm.