FCC apologises for today’s failures on the Brighton Line

train passengers wait at Haywards Heath
train passengers wait at Haywards Heath

There were red faces at the height of this morning’s rush hour after major disruption on the Brighton Main Line caused delays of up to an hour and fifty minutes.

Commuters saw red after an embarrassing series of failures near Hassocks on a First Capital Connect (FCC) service.

At 6.22am the 6.08 FCC train from Brighton to Bedford broke down with brake problems, with further failures once a rescue train was called in to clear the line.

As a result, trains were unable to run northbound between Brighton and Haywards Heath, leaving commuters stranded or facing long delays on a diversionary route via Lewes.

A weary commuter who spoke to the Middy said: “All we hear about is yet another ‘strategy’ to cope with congestion on the Brighton line. Why can’t they make the existing system reliable?”

A spokesman for train operator Southern, which had to cope with the disruption after the First Capital Connect failure, said: “To keep the trains moving, we cancelled all of our Brighton to Lewes shuttles in order to allow us to run trains from Brighton to London via Lewes.

“Some of our services had to start or terminate from Gatwick Airport and some services had to be cancelled. Delays to some Southern services were, at one point reaching over 90 minutes.

“First Capital Connect sent another train to couple up to the broken down train, but our understanding is that the fault transferred to the rescue train once it was coupled.

“In the meantime, we put buses in place running between Brighton and Haywards Heath to supplement the thinned-out train service.”

Trains are now running northbound again, but because many trains and train crews were out of position as a result of the disruption, it was around 4pm this afternoon before services returned to normal.

A spokesman for FCC confirmed: “A failure of one of our trains caused very lengthy delays for passengers for which we would like to sincerely apologise.

“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of a train engineer called to site, further technical problems transpired which meant the train could not be moved with the assistance of another train until 9.08am. It then came to halt again before reaching Hassocks station at 9.38am.

“It was not until 10.38 that the line was completely cleared of the train, which was moved to sidings at five miles per hour.”

Full ticket acceptance was arranged between operators.