David Cameron has described Southern’s recent performance as ‘unacceptable’ during Prime Minister’s Questions today.
Since the start of the year Sussex rail passengers have suffered months of misery due to poor performance, rail strikes, and staff shortages, all of which have led to constant delays and cancellations.
Southern apologised for Monday’s disruption when a train at Clapham Junction struck flood debris blocking the line for most of the day.
One commuter described ‘disgraceful and dangerous’ conditions at London Victoria, with delayed commuters attempting to cram on to a train at around 6pm.
Horsham MP Jeremy Quin said: “While media attention seems to be focused elsewhere all of us in this House have constituents who have problems that need to be addressed.
“For weeks and weeks my constituents have been struggling with the impact of unofficial industrial action on our railways, not over jobs, not over wages, but who gets to press a button.
“Will my right honourable friend condemn this in the strongest possible terms and help to resolve these issues?”
Mr Cameron replied: “Our transport infrastructure is a crucial part of our economy, I condemn any industrial action that disrupts the travelling public and rail passengers will not thank the RMT and ASLEF [unions] for this recent unnecessary disruption.
“Frankly the performance of Southern has been unacceptable and passengers deserve better, and I can tell the House we will be providing more generous compensation for passengers affected by the latest strike and the transport secretary will be announcing further details soon.”
The RMT and Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the Southern franchise, have been locked in a bitter dispute over the future role of conductors on services for months.
Proposals would see drivers instead of conductors operating the doors on all trains, but the RMT has raised safety concerns over the changes although the system is already in operation on a proportion of GTR-run services.
After a third day of industrial action over the stretch of nearly two months earlier in June, GTR announced it would push ahead with the changes in the summer.
After the exchange Mr Quin said: “No one is in any doubt that commuters don’t want compensation - they want a reliable train service.
“However I have been demanding increased compensation as part of a package of support for our train users, I am pleased that we have made progress and look forward to getting the detail.”
Bosses at GTR were due to give evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee on Monday as it looks at improving rail passenger experience, but the evidence session was postponed until Tuesday (July 5) due to ‘recent events’.
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