The organisers of Brighton Pride have said ‘people’s safety was put in jeopardy’ by the failure of rail operator GTR to run an ‘adequate’ service.
In a statement this afternoon, the team said there was a ‘successful and safe’ exit from the park at the conclusion of the festival in less than 30 minutes but they were ‘appalled’ attendees went on to wait for hours for trains on one of the hottest days of the year.
GTR has since responded that it ran 15 extra trains ‘in addition to the plan agreed by event organisers’ and was ready to do so again on Sunday evening.
The Brighton and Hove CIC said: “We are very disappointed that GTR were unable to provide sufficient services to people returning home from a day of celebrating Pride and enjoying the hot weather in Brighton & Hove.
“This is particularly concerning, given the months of planning and inter-agency working that we undertake each year to make Brighton Pride a safe and happy event.
“We were appalled to see that Pride-goers were standing for long periods of time, at the end of the event, while waiting to access Brighton Station, and with almost no information provided by GTR.
“People’s safety was put in jeopardy by GTR and the station’s failure to plan for adequate train services.”
A spokesman for GTR responded: “We ran 15 extra trains yesterday to cope with the unprecedented visitor numbers, in addition to the plan agreed with the event organisers.
“The police closed access to Brighton station and asked us to suspend train services for a period to help with crowding in the town, after which our extra trains helped clear the station steadily. We are again ready to run extra trains this evening.”
GTR has said the 15 extra trains were as many as it could possibly add throughout the afternoon and evening and boosted capacity by 22,500.
Unused tickets from Saturday will be accepted today but advice on leaving early ‘to avoid crowding for the last train’ remains.
The spokesman said crowd control procedures were operated during the late evening, including closing the gates for short periods while people boarded trains.
Thanks for ‘peaceful’ exit
Pride’s organisers have also thank Pride-goers for leaving the park area ‘calmy and peacefully’ at the conclusion of the festival.
It said participants left the park within 30 minutes with all roads open in under an hour.
It also thanked statutory partners such as the council and emergency services for their ‘proactive approach’, including Brighton & Hove City Council’s activation of their emergency planning process, to provide a safe space in the Brighton Centre in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Paul Kemp, managing director, Brighton & Hove Pride CIC, called for ‘lessons’ to be learnt.
He said: “Brighton and Hove is an event city – renowned for its world-class events, from Brighton International Festival to Brighton & Hove Pride – providing a significant benefit to the whole economy of the City.
“The railway is the lifeblood of the city with businesses and visitors relying on this essential service.
“It is disappointing that there have been several occasions of station closures at crucial high volume times over the last few years, including the first weekend of Brighton Festival last year, which coincided with the May Bank Holiday and very hot weather.
“We have consistently called for even closer collaboration with a city-wide approach to planning for major events, with involvement of businesses and transport partners to ensure smooth operations and collective responsibility for all who play their part in the city economy.
“Lessons need to be learned clearly. We are keen, as always, to work with GTR to improve the city and service-wide approach to major events that benefit Brighton and Hove and the UK and our city’s economy.
“Such an approach is vital in ensuring Brighton and Hove’s continuing success as a major tourist destination and event city.”