Almost three quarters of rail passengers will be deterred from visiting Skegness during 23 days of timetable disruptions scheduled this summer, a survey has revealed.
Despite East Midlands Trains’ pledge to minimise inconvenience through a ‘massive’ bus replacement operation, eight per cent surveyed said they would not travel, with 64 per cent saying they would choose an alternative destination, causing worry for businesses in the town.
Bookers manager Glen Low, speaking during last Monday’s Skegness and District Chamber of Commerce meeting, called on the train company to compensate those affected by the disruption.
“I just don’t see how Skegness is going to come good from any of this,” he told EMT’s customer service and commercial director, Neil Micklethwaite.
“I see how the buses will get them here but I can also see people making the choice to go elsewhere.
“I think you guys need to take some responsibility and go back and look at what you do for Skegness.”
Mr Micklethwaite said no compensation would be offered, though he did outline a number of EMT initiatives designed to minimise disruption and encourage travel.
“Our message is that EMT is not closed for business, albeit there will be a bit of disruption,” he said.
He stressed that services between Skegness and Nottingham will only be affected for 23 of the 37 days of engineering works running from July 20 to August 26 and those to and from Grantham will run as normal throughout.
Replacement bus services will leave Nottingham 25 times an hour and 300 ‘Olympic Games type ambassadors’ will be on hand at stations directing passengers to the appropriate services.
Fare reductions of 15 per cent will be offered on disrupted services and a ‘massive’ publicity drive has been carried out to inform customers that services will continue every day.
Many members were determined to look on the positive side, fearing a negative reaction would worsen the impact of the disruption.
Sid Dennis praised EMT for doing a ‘first class job’ and said he had taken ‘solace’ from the presentation.
“We’ve got to look at this positively,” he said.
However David Fisher, the chamber’s vice-chairman, expressed grave concerns about the impact of disruption during such a key time.
“Skegness, if we’re not careful, will die because of this one project,” he said.
Mr Micklethwaite explained the timing represented the quietest period on the rail network, though he acknowledged Skegness was a different case.
The Red Bus company hopes to alleviate some of the problems with its new shuttle service between Grantham, Skegness and many of the larger local holiday resorts.
For more details visit www.skegnessredcabs.co.uk.
For EMT timetable information visit http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/