Brighton line’s last Inter-regional?

13th December 2008

I was a regular commuter on the Manchester to Brighton inter-regional service between Reading at Gatwick. Although there was a faster service via Guildford the comfortable seats and large tables of the Mk2 stock enabled me to work on the journey home. Furthermore the inter-regional was far less crowded having dropped most of its passengers at Reading.

In later years I tried using one of Virgin’s Voyager railbuses from Manchester to East Croydon, where I changed onto one of Southern’s 171 units. The difference was noticeable and I never repeated the trip down from Manchester. Travelling 1st class on both trains, in my opinion the comfort, ride lack of vibration made the class units 171 far superior to the 220s.

Arriva Cross Country took over from Virgin and the Voyager railbuses were accordingly re-liveried. However, the service was not to last with the last passenger working taking place on 13th December 2008. I decided to travel on the train but only across ‘Southern’ metals from Reading to Brighton and back. Ironically I used the North Downs line to get there!   


Reading - the preceding train and a kettle of the copper-capped variety.

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Reading and Voyager railbus no. 220 021 formed the last Brighton service.

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The layover at Brighton was relatively short; excited crowd pictures and poor light
made photography rather difficult. However, this line-up was captured for posterity.

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The train’s computerised destination boards made no reference that when
it departed at 14:22, this was to be the last Brighton line inter-regional.

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By contrast Brighton’s Customer Information System was able to rise to the occasion.

“This, the final Cross Country train service from Brighton brings an end
to almost 30 years of direct train services between here and Reading”.

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So unit 220 021 sat ready to leave Brighton. Despite the
apparent lack of people this last train was well patronised

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As we left Brighton a local brass
band sounded us out in style!

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