Working to secure rail service improvements

Like many Crawley commuters my travel to London as a result of last week’s disruption on Southern Railway and Thameslink services was seriously adversely affected due to the total loss of signalling power experienced by Network Rail in the Streatham area.

While occasional disruption would be accepted, the regularity of an unacceptable service continues to cause a strain to commuters from Three Bridges, Crawley and Ifield stations, as well as to jobs and family life.

I recently joined with cross-party parliamentary colleagues calling for the declassification of first class rail services on Southern and Thameslink routes in light of the recent network crowding, and I welcome the Rail Minister’s swift and positive response on this issue.

I have additionally pursued the Department for Transport over compensation measures for local passengers. In recent days I received confirmation from the Transport Secretary that compensation will be set out to refund season ticket holders up to one month where they have suffered severe disruption.

In addition to Thameslink customers, I am also calling for these measures to apply for Southern passengers as well.

I welcome the Department for Transport £300 million government-funded programme to boost Network Rail resilience and upgrade of engineering infrastructure on key routes in the south east, this is much needed.

Plans for the Crawley Growth Programme Station Gateway scheme also aim to provide an improved public space and connectivity between rail and bus stations in the town centre, and Network Rail are looking to make improvements to Gatwick Airport station, including almost doubling the size of the station concourse, with £130 million in Government and partnership funding.

Notwithstanding the frustration of waiting on a platform, being stuck on a train, and getting to work late, I am fully aware of the continued strain on commuters’ personal lives that this disruption continues to have. These are points I continue to put forward on behalf of Crawley rail passengers. While it is right that the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise will be broken up in 2021, we need to see an improvement of services now.

Henry Smith MP