My constituents have been raising concerns about the quality of local rail services.  There were particular issues over winter, but also a general view that Southern's service has not been up to scratch.

So recently I met with David Scorey, Franchise Improvement Director of Southern Railway, to take up these concerns with him. 

After the meeting he wrote to me acknowledging that Southern's  "recent performance has not been at the level we aim to deliver nor what our passengers have rightly come to expect" and stressing that the company is "determined to address the performance issues and regain the confidence of our passengers."

Since last May, three major factors have been hampering the service: poor infrastructure reliability; poorer fleet reliability than expected on a small proportion of Southern Railway's trains; and congestion on the route.

Mr Scorey has assured me that work is taking place to address how the service is managed during extreme weather conditions.

I welcome the company's candid recognition that recent performance has not met the expectations of passengers.  I am glad that they are taking urgent steps to improve the service, as well as ensuring that there are better preparations for extreme winter weather.

I will continue to monitor the standard of service closely on both the Brighton and Arun Valley lines.

Relatively poor transport links are one of the reasons why there are still significant pockets of deprivation on the south coast, despite us living in one of the most affluent parts of Europe.

That's a key reason why, as I repeated in my column recently, we need to continue to push for improvements to the A27, particularly for an Arundel by-pass.

There is also a strong environmental case for the by-pass.  It would prevent rat-running through the South Downs and improve traffic and air quality in villages like Storrington.

Next month I am convening a meeting of local representatives and business organisations to discuss how we can work together, and bring new ideas, to keep the by-pass on the agenda.

I will continue to work for improvements to our local rail services and roads on behalf of my constituents.



Christopher N Howarth