While some transport networks run differently over the Christmas and New Year period, over the last twelve months their operations throughout the year have been a key part of my work. From those which we use every day to the ones we may utilise on a far more infrequent basis, I have raised issues of trains, planes and automobiles – and buses.
Earlier this year I welcomed the Roads & Local Transport Minister to the Crawley bus depot at Wheatstone Close as a new fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses – for operation in Crawley – was launched.
Over the course of the next year or so this fleet will reach more than 50 buses, making it one of the biggest hydrogen bus fleets in the country.
The fleet marks further progress to reaching Government’s target of 4,000 such vehicles.
It is almost two years since Covid-19 restrictions for the aviation sector came to an end and this industry, of such importance to the Crawley area and wider local prosperity, continues to not only bounce back but look to the future as well.
I am proud of Crawley-headquartered Virgin Atlantic for accepting Government’s challenge to fly the world’s first transatlantic 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight which it achieved in November.
Government must continue to support decarbonised aviation in Britain through a home-grown SAF industry.
In December I visited the upgraded Gatwick Airport railway station. The new concourse is now the entrance for passengers accessing the airport terminal from the station, while the existing concourse will be for those exiting the airport into the station itself.
The one-way system from train station to airport, as part of works which include enhanced accessibility, should ensure a smoother travelling experience for all.
This project also strengthens the rail network including through enhancing services on the Brighton Main Line.
We know that the majority of people travel by road and confirmation of over £67.6 million of Government funding over the next 11 years for road resurfacing in West Sussex is a welcome boost.
West Sussex County Council is to receive over £2.1 million in both this financial year and the next as part of a long-term funding plan to 2034.
This year we managed to thwart proposals from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to scrap the Day Travelcard, which allows passengers to take journeys across overground and underground trains as well as buses into and around London on one ticket.
I wrote to the Mayor on this issue and organised a petition calling for the proposal to be withdrawn. It is a boost for Crawley passengers that the Day Travelcard has been saved.
My best wishes for a Happy New Year to all in Crawley.
Henry Smith MP