Southeastern criticised after rail line reopening delay

Landslip between Wadhurst and Battle in East Sussex Landslips closed a section of the line between Hastings and London

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A rail firm that runs trains on a line linking East Sussex, Kent and London has been criticised for its customer care when the track failed to reopen.

Part of the Hastings to London line used by Southeastern was closed because of landslips in December.

The firm announced it would reopen on Monday but then more bad weather meant extra time was needed to fix tracks.

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd said it caused chaos and that Southeastern staff "did not know what was going on".

Start Quote

They need to do better if they want to hold on to this franchise”

End Quote Amber Rudd MP for Hastings and Rye

Southeastern has apologised and acknowledged it was a difficult time for its customers.

Mrs Rudd said on Monday online information was not sufficient and the firm had "failed" in the way it treated customers.

Reduced timetable

She said: "The constituents understand about the failure of the infrastructure but what they reasonably expect more of is better customer service.

"[Southeastern] need to do much better if they want to hold on to this franchise."

In a statement, the firm said as soon as it was aware of the change it updated its website, travel bulletins and sent out alerts on Twitter.

"Unfortunately, as this was a late notice change over the weekend - perhaps not as many customers picked up the news before setting out on Monday morning," it added.

More than 10,000 tonnes of stone were used for the repairs at Stonegate on the line between Hastings and Tunbridge Wells.

Southeastern made the announcement on Monday that the line would fully reopen but with a reduced timetable.

But rain on Friday meant there were further landslides around Whatlington, which meant buses had to continue to replace trains between Battle and Wadhurst.

On Monday, Network Rail said it hoped the line would reopen next week.

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