During the summer I went down to Brighton by train. I change at Gatwick, wait about ten minutes, catch a fast non-stop Southern train direct to Brighton (Victoria to Brighton Express) and arrive at Brighton a little after midday. Total journey time a little over an hour and a half and a fairly pleasant trip.
Come September, the fast Southern train is non-existent, apparently it is now winter, a much longer wait at Gatwick, then along comes a stopping First Capital Connect cattle truck.
For the last few weekends I have wanted to go down to Brighton, the last time I went was the Bank Holiday weekend, but it has either been lousy weather or no trains.
Last weekend I decided to go down, even though minimal train service, as it was a nice weekend.
My train got as far as Redhill, where we were forced to disembark. No information on the platform, no posters, nothing on the indicator board. I knew there was a bus service, so after a 20 minute wait I got on a train that only went as far as Haywards Heath. On the train the announcement was in German, followed by an almost unintelligible English. I understood get off the train for a bus at Three Bridges. This I did, to find yes, there were buses, but for Brighton, I needed to go as far as Haywards Heath. Next train, a filthy First Capital Connect cattle truck, went as far as Haywards Heath, with a bus to Brighton. No direct bus, this one went via Burgess Hill. On hitting the outskirts of Brighton, gridlocked traffic jam. A hundred years ago horse and carts would have moved quicker.
Journey time over two and a half hours, arrival at Brighton around 1pm!
I had the same problem in the spring, when I went to Brighton for Seedy Sunday, but at least then the bus went direct to Brighton.
Had I tried to travel on the previous weekend, it would have been a train as far as Guildford, then a bus to Gatwick.
The journey back was another nightmare. There seemed to be only one train an hour running out of Brighton for Gatwick and Victoria. The train, only eight coaches, was overcrowded. An hour later, then dumped in the cold at Redhill, to wait half an hour for the next train. A train that was sitting a hundred yards outside the station.
Talking to a fellow travel from Spain, he said if this happened in Spain passengers would get a full refund on their ticket.
It is not only the national rail network. At weekends, the London Underground shuts down.
Small wonder then that motorists continue to use their cars.
Despite the Third World transport system doing its best to ruin my day out, I did nevertheless manage to have a pleasant day out in Brighton, but it would have been better without the unpleasantness of getting there and back.
reference and further reading
Keith Parkins, Weekend public transport, Indymedia UK, 8 November 2007