No room on overcrowded trains

The inadequacies of the Southern service last weekend left many passengers stranded

Tourists and other passengers hoping to travel by rail are being left stranded at Rye and Ashford stations, unable to board overcrowded trains. The Marshlink Action Group (MLAG) kept track of numbers over the past weekend, August 4 and 5 2018.

Where do all the tourists go? Well, of course, they go home – eventually. But, first, they have to get here. And many of those tourists coming and going are doing so by rail. So, when they get home, how will they reflect on their trip to Rye?

MLAG has, again, looked at the difficulties tourists encounter getting to and from Rye. Last weekend we found the following (some numbers approximated; times are all at Rye).
Saturday morning (when crowding is in the direction from Ashford to Rye):
10:48 – 120 left behind at Ashford
11:48 – 70 left behind
12:48 – 20 left behind

Saturday afternoon/evening (so crowding is in the direction from Rye to Ashford):
15:48 – 50 left behind at Rye
16:48 – 79 left behind
17:48 – 109 left behind

Sunday morning:
10:48 – 70 left behind at Ashford
11>48 – 30 left behind

Sunday afternoon/evening:
18.48 – 102 left behind at Rye. See the photo aboce taken after no more passengers were able to board the train with more still piling onto the platform
19:48 – 57 left behind, most took a replacement bus which appeared without announcement
[20 48 – unable to check]
21:48 – train cancelled, replacement bus announced
22:37 – replacement bus announced

So, there were some very unhappy tourists.

Four coach trains – and going through to Brighton. Dream on . . . . .

We don’t know if the Pride rally in Brighton had any effect on numbers – we wouldn’t have thought so, travelling via Rye is now (with the cutting of the service at Eastbourne) a train change too much.

We don’t say the overcrowding at Rye is comparable with the problems at Brighton last weekend – but the Rye situation was bad and dangerous!

[Editor’s note: Southern will no doubt say they do not have enough diesel units for the single line non-electrified track, but they have managed before in  2015 to provide four coaches in the summer period – but only at weekends when the units are not needed for Uckfield commuters]


Photos: Stuart Harland and Rye News library


  1. It was not just at the weekend trains were overcrowded I traveled on Friday 3rd and along with other passengers had to stand in the aisle and doorways from Rye to Hastings.

  2. Noted about overcrowding during the week. In recent weeks there has been a further marked deterioration in train services, officially caused by shortage of train crew or more trains than usual needing repair – by way of example, the 10.47 Rye to Ashford service this morning cancelled because of shortage of crew.
    But my reason for highlighting the weekend service is that it is something, MLAG argues, Southern can do something about now by using their 4-car diesel units which, during the week, are used on the Uckfield line. Also, the level of overcrowding is becoming dangerous and Rye’s tourist economy can do without bad publicity from irritated travellers.

  3. I heard that one of the evening shuttle cancellations happened because a member of the crew went sick, the remaining member was then re-assigned to another service.

  4. You also might want to investigate bus connections and capacity to Camber as speaking to Rye station staff. Vast majority of off peak passengers are going to Camber Sands.

    Also still plenty of cancellations as well. As today Tuesday 14th 0848 from Rye cancelled due to lack of train crew. May be they have gone to Camber Sands too.

  5. It looks like they have adjusted the timetable for this Saturday 18th by slipping the trains back 5 minutes thus missing the 16 minute past connection to London at Ashford – thus making the journey a lot less attractive. I travelled on 4th August -the 10.47 to Ashford was packed. Driving to and parking at Ashford has to comeback into play.


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