I have received several comments, questions and expressions of surprise and bewilderment that, all of a sudden, we have four-car units operating on the Marshlink.
This started over the Easter bank holiday and I was surprised too because, in negotiation with Southern Railway about the tourist season this year (wouldn’t that be nice), they had agreed to operating four-car units over the weekends from June to September to avoid the crushes experienced over recent years. But when the bank holiday ended, the four-car units continued.
But the reason is, of course, to permit social distancing on the train. The train sets have been moved from the Uckfield line where, normally on weekdays, they would be servicing the large commuter numbers on that line – but not now. Hence Southern’s good sense approach of dividing the fleet of diesel units between the two lines.
It is particularly sad (though inevitable and consistent with current distancing requirements) to see that, at the moment, social distancing would have been satisfied by our normal two-car units (at least on the services I’ve seen). So it is that, unfortunately, when we need four-car units during the week we can expect to be back down to two.
Another recent development is that Rye’s booking office has been closed. Southern announced the changes they were making to each booking office they operate and, for Rye, it was closure – but, we trust, only for the duration of the lockdown because, in addition to railway services, the booking office staff are helpful to our tourist business.
MLAG will be looking to see that the office re-opens at the appropriate time.