Every week I am contacted by residents frustrated at the terrible rail services in my constituency. I regularly travel to Parliament by train and so I know exactly what the thousands of local commuters from our area have to put up with.
The performance of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the franchise which also now includes Southern, is simply not good enough. Too many passengers are made late for work, left stranded, forced to travel in unbearably crowded conditions or find themselves unable to board trains during peak times because they are full.
Today I met the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, and the Chief Executive of GTR, Charles Horton, to discuss the unacceptable levels of service that my constituents are experiencing. I was absolutely clear with them that the current situation is unbearable and is causing untold misery for my constituents on a daily basis – whether it is parents struggling to get home in order to put their children to bed, or people consistently being made late for work through no fault of their own.
I strongly believe that Transport for London should have responsibility for running suburban rail services in south London, and I am pleased that consultation took place on this recently. TfL has much higher levels of reliability and customer satisfaction than any other rail operator in London, and I hope that the government will listen to the strong support for this proposal expressed during the consultation and press ahead with this transfer. But the current situation is intolerable and we need improvements immediately.
While the works at London Bridge continue, and GTR seeks to resolve its staffing issues, I pressed the Minister and GTR on two further key issues. First, better information must be provided to passengers regarding delays and cancellations. Too often commuters only find out that their service is late or cancelled after the train was due to have arrived. Second, GTR must set out and publish a clear recovery plan with hard deadlines and targets for when the service will return to an acceptable standard.
Please email me with your rail experiences locally, particularly if you are experiencing repeated problems with the same service, so that I can follow up with Ministers and GTR on your behalf. I will continue to hold the government and GTR to account for the quality of the train services they are delivering locally, and push for GTR’s franchise to be terminated and for Transport for London to take over the running of our rail services as soon as possible.