Food service loss slammed by rail users’ association

RAIL passengers have protested about the loss of the onboard catering service from Bognor Regis.

The closure of the Rail Gourmet depot on the town’s railway station means the absence of refreshment facilities on trains through the Arun Valley for the first time in more than 120 years.

The lack of a service to offer drinks and snacks on the journeys from Bognor, Chichester and stations such as Southbourne to London Victoria has been criticised by the West Sussex Rail Users’ Association.

Treasurer and membership secretary Trevor Tupper said its members were very unhappy at the loss of the catering trolleys:

“It’s bad that we no longer have this service.

“I’ve heard that first class passengers are very angry about it because they are entitled to a free coffee as part of their ticket.

“Southern’s franchise also includes the need to provide refreshments.”

Mr Tupper has put a newly-formed supplier of onboard catering in touch with Southern to see if an alternative service can be started.

“They are interested in doing something in our area and hopefully, something will arise from that and very soon.

“I know there are outlets at Bognor, Barnham, Chichester and other stations doing their best to make up for the lack of catering on the train.

“That’s all right for the people who get on at those stations.

“It’s those who get on elsewhere and who are already on the train who are losing out,” he said.

He believed the staff at the Rail Gourmet depot lost their jobs when it closed recently.

A Southern spokeswoman said: Rail Gourmet, which provides on-train catering on some Southern services, has closed its Bognor depot following disappointing returns.

“Despite the subsidy it receives from Southern, Rail Gourmet has been unable to make the Bognor route financially viable.

“Southern regrets the loss of catering facilities on this route.

“However, there are facilities at many of the stations, including Bognor itself, where passengers can buy refreshments before boarding,” she said.