Passengers fed up with ‘poor’ train services - Bexhill and Battle MP

Huw Merriman pictured at London Bridge station last year
Huw Merriman pictured at London Bridge station last year

Passengers are fed up with ‘poor train services’, according to Bexhill and Battle’s MP following a meeting with rail bosses on Monday.

Huw Merriman, along with a number of Sussex MPs attended a meeting with Network Rail, rail minister Claire Perry, and Govia Thameslink Railway - which runs both Thameslink and Southern - on Monday to discuss the constant disruption and delays to services since the start of December.

The Westminster rail summit came on the same day as massive disruption on the line between Brighton and Three Bridges due to separate signalling failures.

Mr Merriman welcomed investment in infrastructure and staff, but said the difficulties with Southern were clear to rail users, with driver shortages, overcrowding, train failures, signalling and equipment faults all having an impact on passengers ‘leaving them late or stranded’.

He added: “Over previous decades, successive Governments have failed to invest in our local railways despite passenger numbers having doubled in the last 20 years.

“I am pleased that this Government is investing more in new rail projects than anywhere else in Europe.

“However, rail fares are expensive and passengers are fed up with paying through the nose and receiving a poor service in return.

“The patience of my constituents who use Southern and Southeastern is wearing thin. I do not believe that immediately removing these rail franchises is the answer; the disruption it would bring could make things worse.

“I have been commuting from East Sussex for ten years now, using both train operators and I can assure passengers that I will carry on challenging the Department of Transport, Network Rail and our two train operators to get it right.”

In a joint statement Network Rail and GTR said: “We had a challenging but constructive meeting with the minister, listening to MPs and explaining what we are doing to improve services.

“Network Rail and GTR are working closely together to increase punctuality, with Network Rail making track, signalling and other systems more dependable and GTR bringing in new, more reliable trains this spring and still more drivers.

“Increased passenger demand and essential improvement work at London Bridge has made any problems that do occur on the Brighton Main Line up to four times more difficult to recover from, as there is simply less room for the huge number of trains we run every day.

“However, when this work is finished, our services will be transformed for passengers with greater connectivity and more capacity to, from and through the heart of London.”

Rail minister Claire Perry added: “It’s inexcusable that customers on this part of the rail network aren’t receiving the service they deserve. There are problems that are being fixed, such as driver shortages and old trains. But the operator and Network Rail have still got to do better when it comes to fixing faults and communicating with their passengers. We are all completely committed to getting this railway back to high performance by 2018.”

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