Southern Railway

A strong rail network is vital for the employment opportunities, journeys to school, and family life of many. Following service disruption last year, I have been working with the rail industry on its £15 million Passenger Benefit Fund, which was levied by the Government on train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express).

£290,000 for local passenger improvement projects was announced earlier this year, following delays endured by rail users at Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield and Gatwick Airport stations.

In June 2019 I held a public meeting for local passengers and stakeholders to find out more about the fund; I continue to make the point that decisions on how the fund is to be spent should be made at as local a level as possible.

I have welcomed proposals to reduce rail fares with the new 16-17 Railcard guaranteeing 50 per cent off all rail travel expected to benefit up to 1.2 million young people, and I have written to Crawley schools and colleges to urge headteachers to encourage students to sign up.

The Disabled Persons Railcard offers a third off fares. Everyone in Crawley should have the opportunity to travel by train. I was at Gatwick Airport recently to welcome proposals for the future of its railway station; of which improved accessibility and swifter journeys are at the heart of a £150 million upgrade plan.

Regulated rail fares have been frozen in line with inflation, meaning annual season ticket holders will have approximately £425 more in their pockets in the five years to 2020.

While some may seek vast restructuring of who runs our railways in pursuit of a political ideology, my priority is ensuring time and money are spent on practical improvements which will actually benefit local passengers.

The Government have confirmed £300 million of funding for engineering upgrades and fixes on Southern/Thameslink lines; Network Rail will target locations where the most significant delays have been shown to originate, causing recurring problems for the train operator and passengers.

Work is to include: replacing tracks and signalling and renewing key junctions; improving security to help prevent trespass; improving drainage in Victorian era tunnels to prevent water damage to electrical equipment; and shoring up cuttings and embankments to reduce the risk of landslides.

News

Henry Smith MP to ask rail users how Passenger Benefit Fund should be spent

Henry Smith MP is asking Crawley’s rail passengers to get involved with helping to decide how local stations can spend their share of a £15 million Passenger Benefit Fund – a fine levied by the Government on train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (Southern Railway and Thameslink) as a result of