Trains

At the crack of dawn on Monday morning a group of us stood on Arundel station and quietly froze while we waited for a train that eventually arrived late. 

 

We at least managed to get seats.  Others who got on at later stations stood for well over an hour all the way to London.

 

All of us were late for work and pretty angry.  And this kind of disruption is happening the whole time.

 

Scroll through Southern’s twitter feed - I almost feel sorry for the poor official who has to respond to the litany of complaints - and you see the same excuses.

 

Engineering works.  Signalling problems.  Shortage of rolling stock (what can have happened to it?  Was a train mislaid?  Has it been found?)

 

Most infuriating of all is “shortage of train crew”.  When did you last have a flight cancelled because a pilot didn’t turn up for work?

 

Last month MPs had an angry meeting with senior executives of Govia Thameslink Railways (which includes Southern, Thameslink and the Gatwick Express) and Network Rail.

 

The cause of our exasperation is that we keep being told that things will get better, but they haven’t.

 

Before Christmas, I said that unless there was a genuine immediate improvement then more drastic action should be taken, right up to the option of stripping Southern and Thameslink of their franchise.

 

I don’t like the idea of the Government taking over the running of the service at all.  But those responsible for the current fiasco must be held accountable.

 

I called a debate on Southern’s performance in the Commons last summer after they were rated the worst franchise in the country.  I will now discuss with my fellow MPs whether we need to hold another.

 

The Rail Minister is more than aware of our concerns, has intervened and has demanded improvements.  But our meetings with GTR and Network Rail have been in private, and I think we need to scrutinise their performance in public.

 

The industry’s improvement plan has now been in place for a year, yet performance for the last quarter has been far worse than when the plan started.

 

Have any of the senior managers taken a pay cut as a consequence?  And when can we expect any of them to accept responsibility for this appalling service and resign?


Document type

Articles

Published

18 February 2016

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