As a commuter to London myself I’m well aware that Southern Railway and Thameslink services have been unacceptable for far too long now.
This situation, in conjunction with the poor service we have experienced, particularly since new timetable changes were introduced from 20th May 2018, cannot continue and I have been directly pursuing both the rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and the Department for Transport (DFT), in addition to questioning Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons last June.
I signed a letter with cross-party parliamentary colleagues calling for the declassification of first class rail services on Southern and Thameslink routes in light of the network disruption. I welcome the Rail Minister’s swift and positive response on this issue. I have additionally contacted the Transport Secretary calling for compensation for Southern and Thameslink passengers which has also need agreed to.
Previously I have secured and led a debate in the House of Commons on the underperformance of GTR, and contributed to a Transport Select Committee inquiry on rail journeys by providing examples of local commuters’ experiences of travelling on the network.
As part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail, I work alongside parliamentary colleagues to hold the Government, rail operators, and the RMT and ASLEF unions to account. I have previously condemned Crawley Borough Council for voting against a motion which called on the RMT union to end their strikes affecting Southern services.
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. Gatwick Station is also to benefit from a £130 million upgrade package.
Work will 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.
As a daily commuter from Three Bridges to London unacceptable Southern and Thameslink services have made me miss meetings myself. I am aware that this disruption is more than an inconvenience, and can have a severe effect on people’s jobs and the local economy, not to mention the impact on precious family time.