I went to the station this morning at 7.30am to see how things were going (especially with the school bus timed for about then) but also to give two interviews to BBC Radios Kent and Sussex.
There was an excess of buses but not of the type promised (i.e. luxury coaches – more everyday bus). When I arrived one bus was just on its way from Hastings, another was about to go to Ashford. There were several parents there complaining there was no school bus (i.e. a bus just for school children and also non-stop to Ashford): this was quickly resolved when one of the waiting buses was reassigned for the purpose: Katharine Manning noted, though, the bus did not have any seat belts as promised and the Rye station staff didn’t seem to know anything about it. Paul Wyborn, Area Manager of Southern was at Rye Station and we had a chat. He also agreed to speak live to the radio stations if called upon but they didn’t want anyone else.
So those buses went and then more travellers arrived and started talking to them – everyone seemed OK about it. Then a man arrived wanted to take the High Speed from Ashford but expecting the bus to take the same length of time as the train – all explained.
So what are the issues. For me the big issue will be how things have gone during the day with traffic and road works (especially if the road works create the same sort of jam as they did in the middle of Rye on Saturday): having said that, the road works should be the same sort of problem this morning but a problem none the less. Another issue will be passengers having even worse connections than they had last Friday. I could only find one person taking a train from Ashford and that wasn’t to London – I think commuters to London will be railheading – I will be on Thursday. I tried to pursuade Southern to finance parking costs for railheaders but no joy. But, all in all, not too bad.