Local MPs press rail operator to improve services

Amber Rudd, Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye, and Huw Merriman, Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle met Southern in Parliament on 8 June.

The MPs challenged the rail operator to do more to improve rail services which have badly let down local people in recent weeks. Representatives of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which operates the Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern franchises – were in Parliament today to update MPs on planned changes to the operation of their services and to offer the latest news on industrial action which has affected the network.

Amber commented: “I welcome this opportunity to bring the concerns of my constituents directly to GTR. Industrial action has been regrettable and has caused undue disruption to passengers. The company has to find a solution to this problem without cancelling services and delaying people’s travel to work, to school and around our area.”

Over recent weeks GTR has experienced staff sickness levels at a higher than normal rate, which has led to the cancellation of an average 83 Southern services per day. The company is currently proposing changes to the staffing and customer service arrangements on board some of its services.

Huw said: “My constituents are increasingly frustrated by the delays and cancellations on Southern services. As a regular commuter on Southern myself, I know exactly what people are experiencing and I recognise that the service levels have been impacted by the conductors’ strike and the increase in sickness rates. It is very disappointing that customers are experiencing difficulties getting to where they need to be on time. This is a real problem for local people who commute to work on Southern services. They tell me that that are seriously concerned about the impact these delays and cancellations have on their jobs and they are not getting value for money.

“I used today’s meeting to pass on the concerns of my constituents and the Bexhill Rail Action Group to GTR and, in response, Southern recognised the need to find a workable and long-term solution to the current difficulties.

“Both Amber and I are fully committed to improving rail services for our area and we will continue to press for this at all levels.”

Amber added: “The Ashford-Brighton service operated by Southern is vital for our area. Recent difficulties have exacerbated a long-term problem with over-crowding on this line and I will continue with Huw to demand GTR take action for our constituents who pay their fares and deserve a high quality, comfortable and reliable train service.

“Improving capacity on this line is a priority for me and I will continue to campaign with the Rail Working Group I set up to keep this high on the agenda.”