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Farewell Newhaven Marine station

Thursday 16th April 2020

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 11.26.41.pngIf 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.

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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. 

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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.

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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: newhavenmarine.consultation@dft.gov.uk.

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.

Roger French

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Bizarre

BusAndTrainUser View All

I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.

16 thoughts on “Farewell Newhaven Marine station Leave a comment

  1. Very interesting. I believe the only grounds for objecting that will be considered are those from people who can demonstrate hardship arising from the closure. Somehow I don’t think many people will be able to prove that!

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  2. I’ve occasionally been tempted to try the newhaven Dieppe ferry.if I did I’d probably do the overnight one which gets to Dieppe at an ungodly 0400.norton bridge still has it’s platforms I think but no access?smewick West and brocklesby are another 2 in the Midlands which still have platforms but no services.the north is a good place to spy disused stations which still have platforms;this S and C has a few, there’s at least 2 between Sheffield and Doncaster, although one might be on the Leeds turn?2 I can think of in the north east,not counting BSC redcar which is officially still a station in use; greatham and monkwearmouth.

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  3. So what is left where a train actually pulls up to a ferry terminal? I reckon 14 I’m discounting places like Largs, Dover and Liverpool places where you have to walk a distance to get to the Ferry but including Mallaig and Oban where the train ferry connection is built in

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    • Scotland:From memory ,ardrossan harbour,wemsey bay(forgive my spelling),gourrock.mallaig and Oban don’t really count as the station doesn’t quite meet up but if you count them you could add Aberdeen too as the Shetland ferry is very close by.england:lymington pier, Portsmouth harbour,starcross,ryde pier head, Harwich international,the lakeside and Haverthwaite on Windermere,heysham.i believe that some cross river chain ferries stop at some svr stations too but not done these?ireland: Rosslarne harbour.wales: Holyhead,fishguard harbour, guessing Pembroke dock too but one of the few I’ve not been too? Northern Ireland:larne harbour.

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  4. Very interesting. Slight irony in that having completely abandoned use of the track at Newhaven Marine since a signalling upgrade, they now propose using it once more as a siding/turn-back. Considering the most farcical (and very costly) procedures involved in station closures, not sure how they got away with Norton Bridge. As with Etruria, where the track needed to be re-aligned so thirty seconds (!) could be knocked off a Manchester-London journey, it was the removal of the footbridge for probably similar reasons at Norton Bridge and thus no platform access, which caused the longest ever bus replacement service to operate. Then, some fifteen years down the line, the bus was quietly ditched! Brilliant when you think about it. But what a great shame such Ministerial/Government/DFT/Local Authority attention isn’t applied to withdrawing bus services, sometimes causing far greater hardship than an empty and useless Parliamentary train.

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  5. I’ve often wondered if we’ve got the whole station closure process wrong by applying a standard procedure. Here’s an alternative:
    1. Employ surveyors at the station for one full week to meet every train (arrival and departure).
    2. Speak to every passenger and ask a few well-aimed questions:
    a. How often do you travel.
    b. What is your journey.
    c. How far from your house is the station (or how far from your work is the station).
    d. What would you do if the station was closed.
    Actually publicise the survey locally in advance (posters; local papers and so on), so even the “just in case” brigade turn up.
    Having got all the data, then recommend closure or not based on actual passengers needs; possibly by a cost/benefit analysis (cost of maintaining the station versus the utility to the population).
    I’d bet we’d close probably the 100 least used stations overnight . . . speed up the trains (no need to slow down), spend the money more effectively, and so on. Set a target of (say) 10 passengers a day, unless there are VERY compelling social reasons why the station should stay open (no local bus; no local road).
    As an example . . . Golf Street Halt is around 1/2 mile from Carnoustie Station: Carnoustie gets an hourly or better service. Barry Links Station has 9 houses nearby, the village is a mile away. In 2017-2018, both stations managed 320 passengers in a year (including what seems to be one season ticket holder), so an average of about 1 per day for BOTH stations added together.
    Yes, I know the service is thin, but . . . . there really is no justification for keeping either station open.
    It sounds so simple . . . . what am I missing?

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  6. While I agree that some stations should be closed, I think what GreenLine may be missing is the “What would happen if we greatly improved the service, making it possible for the station to act as a railhead for commuters or shoppers?” (Think Melksham or Fishguard & Goodwick, or even the West London line which had no local trains for decades). If you only have one or two journeys a day at inconvenient times (or only in one direction) then of course no-one (except rail geeks) is going to use the service – applies to buses too.

    Simply asking the actual users isn’t enough: it’s the same as a Doctor’s Surgery asking its users to fill in a questionnaire about the opening times when they come in for an appointment – that totally marginalises the people who would really like to come in but can’t (because they’re at work etc) and so go to the hospital and clog up the A&E department. Of course, as GreenLine says, there will be the folk who say they’d use the train or bus if the service was improved, but in fact wouldn’t, so you have to take their comments with a bit of a pinch of salt.

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  7. With reference to Greenline 727’s comments, we did exactly that at Etruria and I was the Surveyor! And it was over a two month period to give a very fair assessment, but the ridiculous and costly bureaucracy still had to be implemented.

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  8. Interesting replies to my original comment; and I agree that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to station closures.
    My point was that there are many stations throughout the UK that have outlived their usefulness, and that we should not necessarily be simply maintaining the status quo.
    It’ll be interesting to see if patronage at Breich increases now that the service has been improved to a train each hour; even one passenger a day would represent a 600% increase!! Is that worth £1.4m in upgrade costs? I think I know the answer to that question!!
    It comes down to the big question, really (and the bus industry is asking the same question at the moment) . . . . what is required of public transport? Is it a catch-all network for all users at all times? Should it be entirely commercially viable? Should it cater only for mass numbers (and if so, what should the lower limit be)? 10 pax/hour on a bus journey? 20 pax/hour? 100 pax/day at a station? 50 pax/day?
    Perhaps if Government (both central and local) would make up its collective minds, then bus and train operators could get on with it, without unhelpful political interventions and mixed answers. That would require an Integrated Transport Policy of course.

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  9. The current Working Timetable shows empty train 5C09 running non-stop MF from Brighton (06.14) to Newhaven Marine, then reversing into the Harbour station to form 2C09 back to Brighton. The evening Ghost Train no longer runs.

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  10. The powers-that-be are simply too scared of being associated with anything that could be described as a railway closure. No one wants to be labelled “a modern-day Beeching”!

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