Category Archives: Business

Update from Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail

From Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership

Interim timetable update

The first two weeks of the interim timetable on Thameslink and Great Northern routes have gone positively; we’ve delivered a more reliable service with far fewer delays and cancellations, which in turn has improved our overall service to our customers.

Prioritising peak-time services continues to be our main focus. There’s still a lot of work to do and we’ve had to deal with some issues which are covered in more detail below.

At the beginning of next week, when the interim timetable will have been in place for two full weeks, we will review and provide you with PPM data comparing current performance with the level preceding the May timetable change. We will also provide some commentary on what operational and infrastructure issues have been happening, to give some context to the figures.

Additional compensation

The qualifying period for the additional industry compensation scheme ends on 28 July; as well as ticket acceptance on other services. Phase one of the compensation scheme will launch at the end of August when we will get in touch with customers who we believe are entitled to compensation based on data that we hold for annual and monthly season ticket holders.

When the automated process is complete, those who have not been contacted but believe they are due to receive additional compensation will be able to apply in phase 2. Applications will be made via a dedicated online additional compensation web form where you will be requested to provide evidence of the season ticket(s) held between 20 May 2018 and 28 July 2018. Before phase one commences we have to undertake a huge piece of work to identify who is eligible from our season ticket database and online sales records.

Delay Repay

The implementation of the May timetables caused significant disruption to customers across Thameslink and Great Northern. To address this we encouraged customers to claim on either the intended 20 May timetable or the service of the day. As the service is now more stable and providing more reliability for passengers we will return to the industry standard approach for delay repay from the 30 July.

Up to and on 29 July

Customers will still be able to claim for services travelled up to and on 29 July on the original May timetables or on the plan of the day

30 July onwards

However, if a claim is put in for travelling on or after 30 July, it will only be valid on the timetable we are advertising and operating on the day of travel. More information can be found here.

Hot weather

As the hot weather continues we encourage people to plan ahead and always carry water. Water is available at our major stations. When rails are in direct sunshine which can be as much as 20°C hotter than air temperature, they expand as they get hotter, and can start to curve – known as ‘buckling’. This is because they are made from steel.

When this happens Network Rail may have to introduce speed restrictions or occasionally have to close the track to allow engineers to attend on site. More information can be found here.

Brighton Pride

Next week we look ahead to Brighton Pride taking place between 3-5 August. We absolutely understand how important this is for the local community and economy. Both GTR and Network Rail have internal teams in place, which have been carrying out planning for events to be held locally celebrating Pride and what it means to people, as well as operational logistics for some time. We are running late night trains to get as many revellers home as possible.

Over the weekend, trains to, from and through Brighton, Hove and Preston Park are expected to be very busy.

We’re asking customers to:

  • Travel outside peak times where possible and allow extra time for their journeys as they may have to queue
  • Travel earlier in the evening if possible as the last trains of the day are expected to be particularly busy
  • Purchase tickets in advance where possible as there are expected to be long queues at ticket offices and ticket machines during the event
  • Re-check their journey immediately before travelling for any on-the-day alterations

As a crowd control measure:

  • Preston Park station will be closed all day on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August
  • London Road (Brighton) will be closed from 12 noon on Saturday and all day Sunday

Full details are available at https://www.southernrailway.com/travel-information/plan-your-journey/brighton-pride 
Engineering works between Lewes to Seaford engineering works

Network Rail will be undertaking engineering signalling works between Lewes – Seaford from 18 – 28 August 2018, closing the line between the two stations. Trains will still run between Brighton and Lewes with a replacement bus service 10 minutes in the peak and 15 in the off-peak stopping at all stations to Seaford.

Posters are on display at affected stations, and more information will be added to Southern’s website and on National Rail Enquiries next week. During the closure, staff will be on hand at all the station to assist passengers and provide water. More information can be found here.

 

The Office of Rail & Road has published today its initial findings after beginning its investigation into the May timetable changes. More details can be read here. Please click here for Network Rail’s response.

For further information contact or email gtr.stakeholders@gtrailway.com.

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Brighton and Hove bids to be Channel 4’s new home

From Brighton and Hove News

Channel 4 is being urged to relocate to Brighton and Hove as it looks for premises outside London.

The state-owned television company invited pitches from across the country last month as it started its search for three new “creative hubs”.

Brighton and Hove City Council, working with the local television sector, put in a bid on Friday 11 May.

The bid also involves the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, Sussex University and Brighton University.

It outlines Brighton and Hove’s “distinctive offering as a major digital and creative centre”, the council said.

It said: “In April, Channel 4 launched its ‘4 All the UK’ strategy and invited pitches from cities and regions across the UK.

“The company plans to open three new creative hubs, including a national HQ, bringing 300 jobs to the regions.

“The Brighton and Hove bid highlights the city’s established success in media, digital innovation and the arts, its unique character as a location known for its quality of life and independent spirit, and its excellent transport links nationally and internationally, including its close proximity to Gatwick Airport.

Visit Brighton has said it’s delighted to support the bid, as the city’s reputation for digital innovation and the arts, and its excellent transport links would make it an ideal destination for Channel 4.”

Click here for the full story.

Valley Gardens roadworks to cause traffic ‘chaos’

From The Argus

An artist’s impression of the Valley Gardens scheme

Every southbound car entering Brighton’s central avenue will be squeezed into a single lane of traffic this summer. Two years of roadworks to redesign traffic flow and pedestrian access around Valley Gardens will begin as early as June.

The decision to start digging up one of the busiest roads in the city during the tourist season was criticised by tourism experts, traders, residents’ groups, public transport pressure groups, taxi companies and unions. Critics have predicted “chaos” and “gridlock” and raised the spectre of tailbacks radiating far beyond the centre of the city. The council said disruption would be mitigated wherever possible.

Meanwhile the roadworks surrounding the Shelter Hall development at the foot of West Street will not finish this summer as planned but will continue until at least next autumn. That development is now projected to cost twice its original £10 million budget, and the council is working on ways to come up with extra money from its own tight resources as well as from central Government.

On Tuesday 6th February, a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board confirmed work on the £11 million Valley Gardens scheme would begin in June, although yesterday a Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said it “hoped” to start work on the highway “towards the end of summer”.

The first phase of the scheme will include closure of one of the two southbound lanes of traffic on the eastern side of Victoria Gardens from near St Peter’s Church. The Valley Gardens development seeks to open up the several, underused green spaces in the centre of the city from St Peter’s Church down to Old Steine.

At present the route is a one way system with two lanes running north, and two south. Once the redevelopment is complete, private vehicles will be restricted to the east of the gardens, with one lane northbound and one lane southbound. On the west, a much quieter road will carry just buses and taxis, northbound and southbound. Extra crossings, extra cycle lanes, and extensive planting and landscaping will make the area easier to access and enjoy on foot.

Yesterday the council said work and diversions would be well publicised and the main route would only occasionally be subject to complete closure.

Anne Ackord, who runs the Palace Pier and speaks for the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, said: “Summer is never the best time to start any disruption. We need to get people in to the city, and we know parking is a problem as it is, so you don’t want anything to get in the way of the best possible summer. At the pier, we’re doing refurbishment work and maintenance now, because it’s winter and it’s quiet. We wouldn’t schedule anything to start later than Easter, because then you damage business.”

Adam Chinnery, chairman of the Seafront Traders Association, said: “It seems very odd, when we get massive domestic tourism that comes right down that road in the summer. And we don’t get nearly as much during the winter. It would seem a lot better to do this kind of project in the winter.”

Steve Percy, chairman of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “It’s going to be an absolute nightmare. I fail to see why Valley Gardens is going to start at the beginning of the tourist season when in fact it should have been started at the end of the season. That’s just common sense.”

Peter Elvidge, secretary of Brighton Area Buswatch, said: “It’s absolutely not the right time of year. “It’s going to be chaos I imagine. The Valley Gardens scheme is going to narrow the road down to a single lane through the roadworks, which will cause huge traffic jams and that will spread throughout the city.”

John Streeter, of Streamline Taxis, said: “I can see this scheme backfiring big time. There’s going to be major tailbacks coming into the city. Summer weekends are very busy and this will have a major impact.”

GMB union branch secretary Mark Turner said: “That’s not very clever timing really is it? That’s the beginning of the summer season, it’s the most important for the city and we’re going to cause major disruption to traffic. It’ll be bad for local businesses – we’ll be saying ‘come to Brighton and be gridlocked’.”

Not everyone was so negative. Theatre Royal manager John Baldock said: “Whenever you did it it’s going to upset somebody. Anything that can improve the city is a good thing, it’s never going to be painless.”

The scheme – originally a Green idea – has cross-party support so opposition politicians have focused on whether the Labour administration will make it happen efficiently.

Green Party spokesman Councillor Pete West said: “My concern is the Labour administration can’t deliver this competently – their project management is not good.

“Once they’ve started digging up, they need to complete within the shortest timeframe to minimise disruption.” 

Conservative Party spokesman Councillor Lee Wares said: “It is essential the Labour administration carefully co-ordinate the construction phases to avoid interrupting all the events our city holds. With Shelter Hall now over-running by a year it is crucial that Labour don’t take their eye off the ball because if they do, it will be a disaster for the city.”

Labour Councillor Alan Robins, the administration’s lead member for tourism, said: “I knew it was going to start, I didn’t know the start date.”

Later in a council statement he said: “Brighton and Hove attracts up to 11 million visitors a year and our marketing activity already encourages visitors to come by train or use other forms of public transport, where possible, as we know that car travel is a major contributor to congestion and poor air quality.”

The Valley Gardens scheme is expected to take around two years.

Business travel by train to Brighton up by 230 per cent

From The Argus

Brighton has become the fastest-growing hub in the country for budding entrepreneurs and enterprises – but the current rail chaos could put an end to that.

Business travel by small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) has increased by 230 per cent in the last four years on rail routes between Brighton and London.

Brighton topped the list of emerging business hubs from across the UK, followed by Swindon and Oxford. Often referred to as Silicon Beach for its ability to attract creative and digital talent, Brighton has emerged a business hub boasting more creative SMEs and start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the UK.

The data from in a report by Trainline for Business -a train booking website – also shows SME rail business travel across the UK has increased by 65 per cent since 2012.

But this may now be at risk due to the current chaos on our rail network with the ongoing bitter dispute between management and workers showing no sign of ending.

Former Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat, micro-business ambassador for Chorus – a free membership organisation launched to provide support, advice and to campaign for the needs of the UK’s micro-businesses – said the train situation is causing real problems every day.

He said: “Rail chaos over an extended period of time is a huge problem for everyone.

“That includes freelancers, contractors and micro-business owners who rely on the rail system to get them to client meetings in good time, and back home again in time for dinner.

“The current rail system just isn’t delivering, it’s definitely time for change.”

The new report shows that SME rail business travel across the UK has increased by 65 per cent since 2012.

Dr Alasdair Rae, senior lecturer in urban studies and planning, said the growth in travel to and from Brighton suggests a growing appetite for more companies to be based outside the capital.

He said: “Trainline’s data on rail business travel provides a compelling and timely insight into the geography of SMEs across the country.

“It’s clear that something significant is happening in terms of the growing number choosing to do business outside London.

“With cheaper rents, quick access to the capital and highly skilled local labour markets, many SMEs appear to be taking advantage of cities across the UK, with Brighton proving particularly popular.

“Yes, the capital remains the brightest star in the UK economy, but there is a constellation of smaller towns and cities upon which our economy also depends.”

Bid to make Brighton seafront a year-round attraction

From The Argus

Brighton seafront from the air

Brighton seafront from the air

A bid to revitalise parts of Brighton and Hove’s aged seafront could get a £24 million funding boost amid a new plan to make it an all year round attraction.

Brighton and Hove City Council has received positive funding news on plans for a new conference centre and arena at Black Rock and the renovation of Madeira Terraces and has also made a five-year improvement plan.

If successful, the bids will add to what Brighton and Hove City Council believes is the biggest programme of seafront investment anywhere in the country to move it away from a seasonal to a year-round visitor attraction.

The news comes 18 months after The Argus launched the Seafront 2020 campaign calling for an ambitious long-term vision for our county’s precious seafront.

One of our most pressing points calling for a five-year plan has now been met in Brighton and Hove with the recent publication of the Seafront Investment Plan 2016-2021.

The extensive report, produced with engineering consultants Mott MacDonald, outlines timelines for major seafront projects already in the pipeline as well as outlining an aspiration to complete the £100 million renovation of seafront arches west of Brighton Palace Pier.

It states: “Much of the coastal city’s visitor offer has been seasonal in the past, reducing the strength of this sector’s contribution to the economy. Development needs to ensure year-round utilisation of the seafront’s offer.

The report adds: “Proposals should support the year-round sport, leisure and cultural role of the seafront for residents and visitors whilst complementing its outstanding historic setting and natural landscape value.

Regarding Madeira Drive the report states the council and partners are working together to “create a year-round usable space that extends the total footfall along the seafront right through to the Marina.”

The report also explores how major projects could be funded with the authority “actively considering” borrowing against forecast business rates growth at an expanded Churchill Square to subsidise the cost of the Black Rock Arena.

Also explored is a possible supplement to business rates which could raise around £2 million a year though the report is quick to stress there are no current plans to bring this in.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “The Seafront Investment Plan details our vision of how the whole seafront can be improved, the options for funding it and the challenges to be overcome.

“Madeira Terraces is a complex, long-term project but we will stick with it.

“It’s not possible anyway to start immediately because we have so much other regeneration work happening on the seafront.

“Progress is being made towards agreeing the conditional land agreement with Standard Life Investments for the £540 million Brighton Waterfront and we’re aiming to reach this milestone in the coming months.”

One of those major projects is the proposal to create 50 glass-fronted pods to nestle in the restored Madeira Terrace. The council has recently learnt its £4 million bid is through the first round of the Coastal Communities Fund.

The council also hopes to learn whether it has been successful in its £20 million for Local Growth Deal funding for the new centre at Black Rock.

The project was one of six Sussex projects shortlisted which could eventually bring a combined private sector investment of £745 million delivering almost 10,000 jobs, 600 homes and 300,000 sqm of employment space.

Chancellor Philip Hammond will unveil which projects have been successful in his autumn statement next month.

Click here for the full story.

Preston Park Hotel to be converted into flats

Preston Park Hotel

Preston Park Hotel

Brighton & Hove City Council has approved the plans after the owner said he could no longer compete with cut-price chains like Travelodge.

The planning committee unanimously agreed the building could be turned into 22 flats, nine of which will be affordable, and 23 parking spaces.

Directors at the hotel said the 34-bed venue is currently trading with “unsustainable” annual losses of up to £103,365 and has required capital injections of more than £53,000 per year continue trading.