Southern Railways has announced their rail services will not stop at Rye from 3pm this coming Saturday, bonfire night – so the last services of the day to / from Rye will be at 2:48pm. Southern explain their reasons for the cancellation in their circular (appropriately issued on Friday, November 5) as follows:
“[This is] to let you know that this year, in the interests of public safety, we are going to close Rye station from 3pm on the day of the Rye bonfire celebrations (Saturday 13 November).
“Under normal circumstances we run additional services for the event but unfortunately this year we can’t do that given the impact of Covid-19 on our train crew availability.
“We have fewer train crew on a day-to-day basis either due to the direct impact of Covid-19 with staff needing to shield or self-isolate, but also because of the indirect impact after nineteen months of disruption to the business. This indirect impact includes delays to training of new drivers due to social distancing requirements, or indeed of existing qualified drivers who receive on-going competency training.
“Therefore, for the Rye bonfire, we can’t guarantee enough drivers will be available to run any extra trains.
“We know this is an important event for Rye and we have looked at all the options to support it as we usually would but, unfortunately, it’s just not possible to do so this year.
“We are working with the local organisers to ensure the event and passenger communications are coordinated so that people are aware in advance that there will be no train service at Rye from 3pm on that day.
“Rye Bonfire Society supports the decision.”
With regard to the final paragraph, having spoken to a representative of Rye Bonfire Society, I can confirm they do, indeed, support Southern’s decision and may well issue their own statement following a meeting on Wednesday, November 10.
Rye Town Council acknowledge the safety issues involved and have said “Rye Town Council acknowledges that employers and providers of services have a statutory obligation to carry out regular COVID-19 risk assessments and take any steps they consider necessary to ensure the safety of their staff, customers and clients.”
With regard to MLAG’s position, we would have liked to have received more notice of the change but, within the committee, have differing views about Southern’s decision. Looking forward to future years, we will take the views of interested parties, form our own view and make representations to Southern.
Image Credits: John Minter .