Hassocks has a modern, accessible station and regular train services. This wasn’t always the case. Twenty years ago the station was run down, not wheelchair friendly, the waiting room could not accommodate increasing passenger numbers and the underpass was growing moss.
In 2000 local resident and business owner, Gina Field, formed a Rail Group to campaign for a new station. At that time Catherine Cassidy, (one of HCO’s trustees), was a regular commuter and joined forces with Gina. The Rail Group had two focuses, to campaign for a new station and to improve train services at Hassocks.
The campaign for a new station took several years. There was a breakthrough in 2005 when Network Rail acknowledged that the station (built about 1970 to replace the old Victorian station) was only built to last about 30 years. However, National Rail did not have any budget for station improvements.
Meanwhile, WSCC organised a feasibility study in the hope funding would become available. Over time funding did become available and, with the Rail Group’s tenacity, Hassocks Station was identified as a station for improvement. The Rail Group worked with rail authorities on the design and finishings and in 2013 the new station at Hassocks was completed with the lift installation being completed in 2014.
In tandem with the new station campaign the Rail Group successfully pushed for the reinstatement of the first off-peak weekday service, later evening services, an additional hourly off-peak service, more Sunday services and a West Coastway direct service.
Since then Catherine’s ongoing stakeholder engagement work has been critical to continuing to get things done and facilitating communication. For example, we now have a canopy from the gateline to an enlarged waiting shelter.
The Rail Group was also instrumental in facilitating Hassocks Station to become one of the first stations to join the Southern Rail Stations Partnership scheme. This has involved volunteers undertaking gardening on the station platform large planters and other station garden areas.
Over time members of the Rail Group have moved away and with the pandemic dramatically reducing travel over the past two years, the Rail Group has diminished. With rail travel opening up again there is a real need for interested rail travellers to join a reinvigorated Rail Group to ensure that residents and rail users continue to have the means to engage rail company managers.
We must maintain these important relationships in order to facilitate changes and improvements needed in the future. The station you see now and the services it provides would not have happened without the hard work and determination of the Rail Group.
If you are interested in joining the Rail Group to help ensure Hassocks and surrounding villages continue to have the services they need, please email Catherine on firstname.lastname@example.org