Thursday 16th April 2020
It was always a bit of a luxury for a town of little over 12,000 population to be blessed with three stations all within half-a-mile of each other. Back in its heyday the south coast port of Newhaven would welcome trains direct from Victoria terminating at Newhaven Marine station for what we now call ‘seamless’ modal transfer to the adjacent ferry sailing to and from Dieppe.
Then in the 1980s the ferry terminal was relocated to a new building further north closer to Newhaven Town station meaning Newhaven Marine and its short spur of track south of Newhaven Harbour station lost its reason for being. Passenger trains were slowly reduced until 2006 when they were suspended due to safety concerns over the dangerous condition of the station canopy. Both the canopy and the station building were demolished in 2017 and a single ‘empty stock service’ train used the siding until last year’s signalling upgrade made this impractical.
Since 2006, technically, as the station still officially exists, a passenger could demand Southern Rail lay on a taxi to take them from the abandoned Newhaven Marine onward to Newhaven Harbour station to fulfill its commitment to providing a service. Before the canopy was removed a notice to this effect was on display confirming this facility applied to one train a day they pretended departed at 18:52 (but didn’t).
Many years ago some wag tried to do just that for a Radio Four programme which was rather amusing but even better, in 2011 a young Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe (who later went on to do All The Stations) made a brilliant video about the station and its empty stock service ‘ghost train’ which left at 20:15 each weekday evening including some great footage of how the station looked in its former dilapidated and forlorn state.
If you have seven and a half minutes to spare, and who hasn’t at the moment, it’s well worth a watch and can be viewed at Newhaven Marine Ghost Train.
There’s even a cameo appearence of some smart looking Brighton & Hove buses in the parking area that fine bus company used to occupy directly opposite the station and the abandoned ferry terminal building.
Newhaven Marine is still officially a station in the system even though it has no facilities, no trains (not even an ’empty stock service’) and no passengers. A bit like Norton Bridge was, until that ‘station’ was finally officially closed a year ago just after I visited its abandoned platform and bespoke replacement bus service.
Redcar British Steel, IBM and Manchester United Football Ground are three other ‘live’ stations recognised by the Office of Road and Rail as being ‘open’ but without any passengers and trains stopping. However, these three have only recently been ‘furloughed’ so it’ll be a long time before they’ll face formal shutting down in the weird world of station closure procedures.
For Newhaven Marine, fourteen years after the last passenger train actually ran, the DfT are now finally calling time. A public consultation into its formal closure opened on 15th January and closes at precisely 11:45pm this Sunday night, 19th April 2020.
The plan is to demolish and remove the platform (in the photograph below) but retain the track as a siding for the berthing/turnback of an eight-coach train as needed as well as for freight train access to Newhaven Port where a new dock and freight handling facility is planned. East Sussex County Council has ambitious plans to develop the Port including a new access road from the A259 and it’s felt a rail freight facility would compliment this development.
The public consultation document includes an appraisal which considerd the case for infrastructure works necessary to restore passenger rail services to Newhaven Marine – as that’s the kind of analysis you have to do when you close stations. This concludes “there would be insignificant passenger demand and benefits from restoring passenger rail services to the station as it does not serve the passenger ferry terminal or any other potential trip origins or destinations”. Reinstating the station would cost £607,400 and unsurprisingly the conclusion is this “represents very poor value for money”. And that was before coronavirus knocked the economy into a recession.
But, as always with public consultations, the public have a chance to express its views. So if you feel motivated to let the DfT know what you reckon click here for full details and reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wouldn’t it be funny if there was an overwhelming response in favour of reinstating the station!
Don’t forget you only have until Sunday evening to let them know your thoughts.
I used to run a bus company but in retirement enjoy Britain’s splendid scenic delights travelling by bus and train, and commenting along the way.