MP says it's time to call out unions on Southern rail service

Nick Herbert met the Transport Secretary,  the Rail Minister and the Chief Executive of GTR last week to discuss the rail service, and he is leading an MPs' delegation to meet the Transport Secretary again today (Wednesday).

Mr Herbert has been working closely with other Sussex MPs including Sir Nicholas Soames and Jeremy Quin to raise the concerns of passengers.  Constituents have been contacting their MPs to express their fury at serious delays and train cancellations affecting the service in recent weeks.

Nick Herbert said: "The RMT strike next week and ongoing levels of staff 'sickness' are disruptive and totally unjustified.

"This industrial action has nothing to do with safety, no jobs will be lost and pay will not be cut.  There will still be staff on most trains in addition to the drivers, it's just that they won't be responsible for opening the doors, which is already the case on many Southern trains anyway.

"Some problems over the past year have been out of Southern's control, such as infrastructure issues including the London Bridge upgrade, while others have been their fault, such as the failure to recruit enough drivers which they are slowly putting right.  I'm the first to say that Southern should be held to account for their failures.

"But let's be clear: the current major disruption to services which is infuriating my constituents is principally the fault of the unions, and it is they who should be called out.  They are massively inconveniencing the public while Southern takes the blame, but it is the RMT's strikes and the mysterious levels of staff sickness which are the real cause of problems now.

"I have been fierce in my criticism of GTR/Southern, and still believe that if they continue to fail to deliver the improvements they promised a year ago then they should be stripped of their franchise.  But the current problems are mostly being caused by the unions, and it's time to say so.  They should put passengers first, call off the strike, stop their cynical sickness claims and return to the negotiating table."

Mr Herbert has recently been sent letters about the rail service by the Transport Secretary, the Chief Executive of GTR and the Rail Minister. You can read these below:

Letter from the Transport Secretary:

Letter from the Chief Executive of GTR:

Letter from the Rail Minister:

Nick Herbert has also written about this issue and raised it in the Commons on numerous occasions. You can find links to these below:

1. Rail Service

Nick's article for the West Sussex County Times about GTR's poor performance and the recent industrial action (09.06.16) -

2. Rail Services in West Sussex

Nick's article for the West Sussex County Times discussing the lamentable service on Southern Rail (26.05.16) -

3. MP slams 'absolutely lamentable' rail service

Speaking in a Commons debate on The Queen's Speech on 23 May, Mr Herbert said that ongoing rail failures and industrial action were now causing "real anger" amongst his constituents (25.05.16) -

4. Minister pledges to hold rail companies to account for poor service

News release in which Nick Herbert welcomes a commitment from the Rail Minister to hold rail companies to account following continued service disruption to local trains (10.05.16) -

5. MP demands accountability for rail failures

 News release following a Westminster Hall Debate on the performance of GTR and Network Rail (30.03.16) -

6. The performance of Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail

Nick's speech from the Westminster Hall Debate (16.03.16) -

7. Trains

Nick's article for the West Sussex County Times demanding improvements from Southern Rail  (18.02.16) -

8. MP: Southern must improve rail service immediately or lose franchise

 News release in which Nick Herbert calls for Southern and Thameslink to be stripped of their rail franchise unless they show immediate improvement (21.12.15) -

9. MP says that Southern Railway should "hang its head in shame"

News release following Westminster Hall Debate on the performance of Southern Railway and Network Rail (13.07.15) -

10. The performance of Southern Railway and Network Rail 

Nick's speech from the Westminster Hall Debate (08.07.15) -

11. Rail Minister slams "inexcusable" Southern delays and disruption

 News release following a meeting between the Rail Minister and MPs (29.05.15) - 

Michelle TaylorRail