Bexhill and Battle MP raises problem of overcrowd trains with rail minister

Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, Claire Perry MP, Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, and Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling.
Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, Claire Perry MP, Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle, and Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling.
  • Bexhill and Battle MP raises problem of overcrowded commuter trains with rail minister
  • Claire Perry says she shares concerns about delays and disruption to services
  • Southern say they are increasing number of carriages and seats on network

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman raised the problem of overcrowded trains with the rail minister this week.

He was one of several MPs to meet Claire Perry, the minister at the Department for Transport with responsibility for the railways, on Tuesday to lobby for improvements to Southern services.

A similar meeting is scheduled to include constituencies where South Eastern operate train services.

Just this week commuters on Southern trains compared themselves to ‘animals travelling to the slaughter’, but the train operating company said that ‘the railway is even more popular than ever, with passenger numbers growing year on year’.

Mr Merriman, whose constituents use both Southern and South Eastern services, said: “I used the meeting to discuss the current service levels for constituents who use the East Coastway line, particularly the problem of overcrowding at peak times when commuters and school children are using the service.

“I also pressed the case for high speed rail from Bexhill to London via Ashford as well as raising the Uckfield line which commuters in the north of the constituency use (and I am one of them).

“I am pleased that the minister is on the side of commuters. I look forward to a further meeting to press the case for commuters on South Eastern as well as hearing plans for new initiatives to improve services on both networks.”

Rail users have been hit with severe delays twice in the last month. Problems with engineering work at Clapham Junction on April 30 led to an entire day of delays and widespread cancellations across Sussex, while emergency engineering works had to be carried out at Haywards Heath on May 20, which resulted in another day of misery for passengers.

In a letter to the MPs at Tuesday’s meeting Mrs Perry said she was ‘really proud’ of the Government’s investment in the multi-billion pound Thameslink project, but was also ‘extremely concerned’ about the direct and indirect impact works were having on passengers.

She said at times the delays and disruption were ‘simply inexcusable’, and was looking at a review of the problems on the specific lines carried out by Network Rail, which includes recommendations for both service and operational changes.

Earlier this month Southern also made hundreds of changes to its timetables, which included the removal of some peak time services, and has annoyed many commuters.

One rail user wrote on Facebook: “Animals travelling to slaughter get more room by law than most people get travelling during peak times in overcrowded trains.

“Surely Southern know how many people travel on average during peak times and should provide the correct amount of rolling stock rather than maximising the profit made on a journey.”

A spokesperson for Southern said: “We have introduced new train fleets during the current franchise to meet this growth, providing a total number of additional carriages on our network to 227 – resulting in a net gain of over 10,000 extra seats across the network.

“This has provided some much needed relief to thousands of our passengers who now have a more comfortable journey.

“The decision to start the 6.56am Brighton to London Bridge service from Gatwick Airport was one of hundreds of changes made to departure times and calling patterns in the new summer timetable. These changes are designed to improve punctuality performance – something that we know is very important for our passengers.

“Looking ahead, the £6.5 billion Thameslink project will enable the introduction of more new trains on the Brighton Main Line, further increasing capacity.”

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