MP demands new action to tackle rail disruption
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has called for new action to deal with the ongoing disruption of local rail services.
MPs for constituencies affected by the Southern/GTR problems met with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, in the Commons on Monday evening (14 November) to raise their concerns about the situation.
The meeting followed weeks of disruption on services on lines in Sussex.
MPs agreed that continuing problems were mainly being caused by the rail unions’ unreasonable industrial action. Almost all guards had accepted new contracts, and there would be no reductions of pay or job losses. The MPs’ strong view was the unions' behaviour was cynical and political, and had nothing to do with safety.
But MPs also criticised the performance of Southern and Network Rail, and they expressed their deep concern at the impact on their constituents, who have been facing continual disruption to services, including repeatedly cancelled trains and overcrowding.
Mr Herbert joined other MPs in calling for substantial compensation for passengers, to be funded by GTR/Southern themselves, and for new action - if necessary through legislation - to prevent unreasonable industrial action on an essential public service.
MPs recognised the problems of poor infrastructure and called for substantial long term investment on Southern’s routes. Before the current industrial action began, 60 per cent of delays were being caused by track and signalling problems which are the responsibility of Network Rail.
Commenting after the latest meeting, Nick Herbert said: “MPs left the Transport Secretary and the Rail Minister in no doubt about the anger of our constituents that these problems are continuing and the need for new action to deal with them.
“In particular we called for meaningful financial compensation for passengers whose lives have been affected by months of disruption, to be funded by GTR/Southern, and for new measures to deal with disruptive industrial action on an essential public service.
“It is completely unacceptable that a few hundred employees can cause such chaos on the railway when none of them face job losses or pay cuts.
"A further issue is that while this industrial action continues it is harder to hold the rail operator and Network Rail to account because the unions are behind so much of the problem.
“Passengers just want action and to know when this dispute will be resolved. The current situation cannot be allowed to drift on into the winter.”
Mr Herbert met senior managers of GTR/Southern earlier this month and has repeatedly raised this issue with rail managers, ministers and in the Commons. He has pledged to continue to work with other MPs to maintain pressure on all concerned to resolve the problems.
1. To see a full list of Nick’s actions on this issue see http://www.nickherbert.com/media_centre.php/836/gtrsouthern-rail-service-nicks-actions.
2. To see the Transport Secretary’s announcement of measures in September to tackle the problems see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/package-of-measures-announced-to-help-improve-resilience-of-southern-network.