Weekend trips by tourists are an essential income for many seaside towns and St Leonards in no exception – especially that we now have a brand new pier. The only problem is that for most tourists from London or the nearby catchment area it can be difficult to get here or back given the regular weekend engineering works, rail replacements and cancellations.
Our next case study – Mr Tourist – is a 28 year old Londoner that travels to St Leonards regularly, at least once a fortnight and like many others he is frustrated by the regular delays and cancellations. He lives in Sutton but works near Victoria, so he takes the direct train from Victoria to Hastings (122 mins journey time) on Friday and on Sunday back via East Croydon, changing to a bus to Sutton or via Waterloo East/Clapham Junction to Sutton by train.
“I come here regularly as St Leonards is a very nice place and has a lot to offer and it’s the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of London. And on a sunny day the sea looks amazing and the people are also very friendly.”
“I tend to take the 1727 train from Victoria to St Leonards as it is a direct service and Victoria is only five minutes away from where I work in London.”
The weekender ticket
A “Southeastern Weekender” ticket costs £22 with a Network Rail pass if travelling Off-Peak but it is not valid on HS1. However, it is valid on all other permitted routes between the named origin and destination. A ticket on the HS1 is £25.95 at the same time but would mean a change at Ashford and the time saving is marginal. For our case study it would also mean taking the underground to St Pancras from Victoria, which is an extra £1.40 single on the tube.
All very complicated.
The problems tend to start when the train needs to be de-coupled and the operators fail to carry out the task due to one thing or another.
“I’ve had to change trains many times because the train I was on had been cancelled due to de-coupling issues”, Mr Tourist said.
Sundays are Mr Tourist’s biggest nightmare because invariably the trains are either cancelled, delayed or replaced by buses.
“During the past year I’ve had only one weekend when I could travel back to central London directly, without having to take a replacement bus or being delayed by up to an hour or more because the train was cancelled due to staff sickness and other reasons.”
“I even tried the buses from Victoria, but the roads are just as bad – the one daily bus to Hastings was almost always late…the last time I took the bus it was two hours late so I gave up and went back to the trains instead.”
“I just wish Hastings wasn’t so difficult to reach – feels like a commuter black hole sometimes!”