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Passengers must ‘plan ahead this Easter’ as Network Rail begins £10m improvements

There will be changes to Thameslink, Southern, London Overground and Southeastern services over the long weekend, with diversions and rail replacement buses on some routes.

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Passengers in the South East are reminded to check before travelling by train this Easter as Network Rail is set to carry out a £10m programme of work to improve the region’s rail network.

Around 2,000 engineers will be working round the clock over the long weekend on a range of projects to boost reliability and safety on busy commuter routes. This includes improvements to Sevenoaks tunnel in Kent, bringing new signalling equipment – which controls the safe running of trains – into use through Mitcham and Sutton and laying new track between New Cross and Norwood Junction.

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As a result there will be some changes to Thameslink, Southern, London Overground and Southeastern services over the long weekend, with diversions and rail replacement buses on some routes.

The biggest impacts will be:

  • No Southern or London Overground trains between London Bridge and West Croydon via New Cross Gate and Crystal Palace all day Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday (30 March and 1 April), thanks to new track being laid between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction. Thameslink’s Saturday service between London Bridge and Brighton will not run either. Only a limited Southern service will operate to / from London Bridge with trains operating via Peckham Rye. There will be no direct service between London Bridge and East Croydon on Easter Saturday.
  • Buses replace Southeastern trains between Tonbridge and Sevenoaks from Good Friday until the start of service on Tuesday date. Trains between London Charing Cross and Hastings will divert via East Croydon. This is as a result of new track being laid in Sevenoaks Tunnel.
  • New signalling system being commissioned around the Sutton Loop and Mitcham Junction area, meaning no Southern trains between Streatham and Epsom and also between West Croydon and Sutton / Epsom Downs. Thameslink trains will run between Luton and London Blackfriars only. This project lasts from 23.00 on Thursday until the start of service on Tuesday April 3.

John Halsall, Network Rail’s South East route managing director, said:

“The railway in the South East is the busiest in the country, delivering hundreds of thousands of people to and from work each day and helping support and drive the region’s economy. It also means we have to carry out a more intensive programme of maintenance and renewals than other areas to keep people moving safely and reliably, which is what we’re doing this Easter weekend.

“The work we do really is essential to keeping people and goods moving in the South East and bank holidays are a quieter time, meaning we’re able to keep disruption to passengers to a minimum. There will still be some changes to services, so please do check before you travel.”

Stuart Cheshire, Passenger Services Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Thameslink and Southern, said:

“Passengers need to plan ahead this Easter while Network Rail carries out this essential work. Visit our websites or nationalrailenquiries.com.”

Ellie Burrows, Southeastern’s Train Services Director, said:

“Work to improve our railway continues this Easter bank holiday, and working together in partnership with Network Rail, we’re investing to deliver the essential maintenance that we need for a more reliable railway in London and the South East. I’d encourage all our passengers to plan ahead and check before they travel by following us on Twitter @SE_railway, or checking our On Track app or website for the latest information.”

Other changes to services in and around London include:

  • Euston station will be partially closed. On Saturday 31 March and Monday 2 April a reduced service will be in place for London Northwestern Railway passengers. On Sunday 1 April passengers are advised to use the Jubilee line between London and Stanmore. There will be no train services out of Euston for Virgin Trains West Coast on Sunday 1 April
  • Crossrail East works continue in the Shenfield area disrupting travel in and out of Liverpool Street on the Great Eastern main line to Norwich
  • Services to London Waterloo and Windsor/Reading will be diverted between 30 March – 2 April
  • Crossrail West works continue impacting services in and out of London Paddington from 30 March – 2 April

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Education

Crawley school students launch petition for change as funding cuts threaten their education

The change.org petition has been launched by some students at Thomas Bennett Community College and already has over 200 signatures.

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The school has been in the news over the past few months due to the funding cuts by TKAT.

With teachers leaving the school and residents community meetings being held with councillors it has been and continues to be a turbulent time for all associated with the school.

Now some students have taken it upon themselves to launch their own petition aimed it seems at changing the school for the better.

The students say:

“We are Students that are currently attending Thomas Bennett. We are undertaking our GCSE’s and are month’s away from exams. With limited welfare support throughout the school, such as a medical room assistant or a pastoral support assistant for each year we are struggling tremendously with the way the school is run due to low funding.”

The student who has launched the petition also mentions how he emailed the CEO of TKAT raising his concerns but was told it ‘wasn’t in their hands and overall should stop talking about it’.

Whilst the petition does not mention it there is a feel that the aim is to bring the school back into public sector as stated by Crawley Council leader Peter Lamb who has show his support of the petition.

The petition states:

“Over the years Thomas Bennett has struggled with funding, only to which this struggle became increasingly more difficult when the academy, TKAT, took over our school. Profit not students success is what this academies aim is and large group of students including me are ready to do whatever needs to happen for something to change! Whether that’s a whole year walkout or a strike with the whole school. “

It adds:

“A walk out is something TKAT does not want to face especially with media coverage and limited time for year elevens, a whole year will not just get bad qualifications with missed time but will also reflect on the education that is being provided for students by this school run by the academy.”

The very fact that students themselves have now made the decision to make a stand shows how passionately the pupils feels about their educational needs but a viable outcome still seems distant.

A spokesperson from the Kemnal Academies Trust commented,

“We welcome our students’ active involvement in their education and the Trust has been working directly with the students at Thomas Bennett.

Funding is a national issue for Education affecting all schools, with the West Sussex “worth it” movement taking a leading part in the campaign to improve funding for all schools”.

The petition can be read here.

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