MarshLink’s reliability

Two spare trains, but where are they?

Following MLAG’s press release last week concerning the unreliability of the Class 171 diesel units operating the service and the tardiness of getting the “spare” into operation, we said we would publish Southern’s response.
Southern say “Over the last three months there has been a significant improvement in the reliability of the 171 trains running on the Marshlink. There are 12×2 car Class 171 and 10 are needed to run the MarshLink and Uckfield timetable day to day.
“This means that there are 2 (rotating) in the depot undergoing maintenance which could be used in the event of a train failure. This ongoing maintenance has resulted in a significant sustained increase in reliability.”
At our meeting with GTR/ Southern last week they confirmed that “If the train fails whilst in the depot the spare can be put into use. However if the train fails whilst down on the coast there is no predefined “path” for the spare to come down from the depot so no guarantee that the journey could be made.”
Southern tell us they are working on getting a path timetabled so that if a train fails in the morning the service would be working again in the afternoon.

Photo: Rye News library


  1. As a resident of South Undercliff, I am aware that the transport infrastructure of Rye, and our country in general, is most unsatisfactory. However, on 31 May my wife and I were invited to go to Buckingham Palace and we decided the only sensible option would be to take the train. How wrong we were! We arrived at the station in the morning to catch the train only to find that the Ashford service was cancelled. However, we eventually managed to arrive in London in time for our appointment via Hastings. After a pleasant afternoon sipping tea and eating extremely thin cucumber sandwiches in Her Majesty’s garden, we strolled back to Victoria Station and got on a waiting train to return home. Suddenly alarms went off, heavily armed police were running everywhere, the whole station was evacuated and the shutters to lock us out went down. After a rather worrying period of time had elapsed, we were allowed back in and somewhat later in the evening than planned we arrived in Ashford only to be informed that the train to Rye had been cancelled. We sat for nearly an hour in light summer clothing in a draughty waiting room with lots of other angry passengers and no hot drinks available. When we got home on the last train, cold, dehydrated and exhausted, we learned that the terrorist outrage at Victoria Station was in fact the Flying Scotsman on a planned excursion leaving the station, getting up a head of steam and setting all the alarms off. In the light of your article and my recent experience would I be right in thinking that there is very little joined up thinking amongst those responsible for our country and its transport infrastructure? I have recently retired, but I feel sorry for those who must commute to work these days by train or road.


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