AFTER years of being packed into trains like sardines, commuters from Edenbridge have finally been given some relief – but they'll have to set the alarm early to benefit from it.
A search for solutions to the morning rush-hour overcrowding on the Uckfield line into London has led operator Southern to add another train.
The only drawback is that the new train calls at Cowden at 5.42am before reaching Edenbridge Town five minutes later, making it the earliest train.
Geoff Brown, of Edenbridge and District Rail Travellers' Association, said: "It's not what we'd hoped for but we'd be delighted for our scepticism to be misplaced.
"The additional train to London is welcome. However, we've yet to see if there is a significant market for such an early train and whether it will prove to be a train too early."
The train, which runs from December 9, will leave Uckfield at 5.18am, skip Hever and arrive at London Bridge at 6.23am.
Charles Lavering, of Stangrove Road, commutes into London each weekday.
He said: "I can't get into the office until about 8.30am so getting to London two hours earlier is no good to me.
"The last thing I want to do is get up at 4.30am to make that train. I spend enough of my day working as it is."
Adrian Bevan, of Albion Way, is a tourism consultant and usually drives to work bases in Hurst Green or Oxted, then to London.
He said: "Any improvement to the frequency of the service would be positive news.
"Frequency is the key – currently there is a far better service from Hurst Green to Oxted."
Mr Brown said the new four-carriage train could relieve overcrowding on the 6.15am train from Edenbridge Town but the cattle-car conditions on the 7.09am train would be unlikely to change.
He added: "At least as there are no other alterations to the existing service, there are no actual 'losers'."
MP Sir John Stanley said: "The increased capacity is very early in the morning and I'm determined to continue the campaign to see if we can get more."
Southern Railway managing director Chris Burchell said: "Numerous other options to increase capacity, particularly on the 5.45am train, were considered but they required compromises such as removing coaches from other trains or turning Uckfield services at East Croydon or Oxted rather than London Bridge."