Standing up for rail passengers in Parliament

Given recent disruption endured by Crawley rail commuters I welcome confirmation that the Department for Transport have commissioned a comprehensive Rail Review which will consider recommendations for reform to ensure the system benefits passengers and plays its part in supporting a stronger economy.

The review will be led by a former chief executive of British Airways and will build on work to bring management of trains and track closer together, as well as consideration of regional partnerships and how innovation can be used to improve services and passenger value for money.

The Transport Secretary will publish a White Paper based on recommendations of the review. Implementation of reforms is set to start from 2020.

It is of course the case that improvements are needed now. To this end I look forward to the upcoming session of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail next month; a platform for south east MPs to pursue concerns directly with the Government as well as management of trade unions and rail operators.

I have additionally contacted the Transport Secretary on behalf of commuters from Three Bridges, Crawley, Ifield and Gatwick stations in opposition to any potential rail fare rise.

In my letter to Chris Grayling, I stated that while there has been a nine-fold increase in rail investment since privatisation, from £698 million in 1994-95 to £6.84 billion in 2013-14; there remains more to do to provide the service expected by regular commuters and other passengers.

A return to a state-run monopoly would mean less investment and a worse service. This is not a step we can afford to take. Passenger journeys have more than doubled in the last two decades, from 735 million to 1.73 billion. Sustained investment is ongoing, with Government backing worth £48 billion over the next five years.

I continue to follow up with Govia Thameslink Railway to impress upon them that in addition to people being delayed getting to and from work, ongoing issues need to be rectified in recognition of the significant impact that regular delays have on jobs and everyday family life.

Henry Smith MP