Henry Smith MP has led a debate in the House of Commons on the recent serious underperforming of Southern and Thameslink rail services.
The Adjournment debate, which took place in the evening of Monday 12th September, saw other local MPs join Henry in holding the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP, to account for the level of service provided over the last twelve months.
“While it’s welcome that around a third of GTR services removed in July as part of their reduced timetable have now returned, the reality is that passengers from Sussex aren’t seeing the benefits.
“The Rail Minister told Parliament earlier this month that these services will be reinstated in the coming weeks, and I welcome his confirmation in the House of Commons yesterday that he will be meeting GTR later this week on this issue.”
On compensation for passengers, Henry said;
“One of the issues which came up at the public meeting I hosted with representatives from GTR was the issue of compensation. In particular, I recall one account where a 29 minute delay for a train means that passengers narrowly miss out on the 30 minute threshold to apply for compensation.
“As I said in the Commons, compensation is not the long-term solution to these issues, however I welcome the Government’s commitment to improving compensation procedures and reducing the eligibility time to 15 minutes."
On fares, Henry said;
“I continue to call for a fare freeze for Southern and Thameslink passengers.
“While the Government’s cap on fares will save season ticket holders an average of £425 over the next few years, passengers who continue to endure disruption should be exempt from any fare rises now."
On improvement works, Henry said;
“The Government recently announced a new project board and £20 million of funding to help Network Rail’s upkeep of the train network. This will include £1 million on testing platform and dispatch staff infrastructure at Gatwick Airport and East Croydon stations.
“I asked the Minister to provide further details on the plans for Gatwick and he replied by saying he will be meeting with the new route director of Network Rail in the coming days, and I look forward to discussing this issue with the Minister after this has taken place.
“I’m grateful to MPs who took the time to attend this debate; both my Conservative colleagues and Caroline Lucas MP were in the Commons and asked questions of the Rail Minister, however it was disappointing that no Labour MPs were present for the debate."
Please click here for the full text of the debate.