MP calls for rebate for rail commuters
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, to demand a “significant rebate” for constituents affected by the recent rail disruption.
The letter of 2 July, signed by 14 other Conservative MPs whose constituents also use Thameslink services, says that compensation should paid for by the rail companies and not the taxpayer, and would “demonstrate that the Government has understood the impact of the disruption on passengers, and has responded to their concerns.”
Mr Herbert repeated his call in the Commons today: “We are now into week 7 of this Thameslink timetable shambles and there is no sign of the service getting better. Never mind electrification, frankly trains were more reliable 100 years ago in the age of steam. Can the Minister confirm that the compensation package that he is to announce will be generous and that specifically it will be funded by GTR because it is their shareholders, not the taxpayer, who should bear the pain for this appalling performance?”
The Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, replied: “I sympathise with my Right Honourable Friend’s concerns. His constituents, including those from the station of Hassocks which we’ve discussed on a number of occasions, have endured an unacceptable level of service and he’s been a strong champion for them. They will receive compensation and we will be setting details of that compensation plan out in the coming days. It will be comparable, as the Secretary of State has indicated, with the compensation that was given to passengers on Southern about a year and a half ago.”
In an article today on ConservativeHome, Mr Herbert says:
“The message from the public is clear: sort out this chaos now. Rail companies and managers who can’t deliver must go. In the meantime, compensation is the least that passengers deserve.”
Later today Nick will attend the All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail where he and other West Sussex MPs will discuss the ongoing rail disruption with Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of GTR, and John Halsall, South East Route Managing Director of Network Rail.
At the meeting Mr Herbert will also repeat his request that direct trains from Hassocks to Clapham Junction are restored.
The full text of the MPs’ letter is below:
We are writing to bring your attention to the continuing, appalling disruption that our constituents who travel on Thameslink and other services are suffering following the chaotic introduction of the new rail timetable.
Performance on the network remains deeply unsatisfactory in the seventh week of the new timetable, to the justifiable fury of our constituents. Trains continue to be delayed, and when they do arrive they are often too short, resulting in overcrowding.
Tens of thousands of journeys have been, and continue to be, disrupted. For our constituents, who endured well over a year of abysmal services as a result of the industrial disputes and the London Bridge upgrade, this further collapse in services is the final straw.
In December 2016 you announced a season ticket rebate for Southern passengers who suffered extraordinary disruption and we welcomed your announcement to the House on 4 June that a special compensation scheme will be introduced to give similar entitlements for regular rail customers experiencing the current disruption.
The current ‘delay repay’ scheme is not enough and we note that Transport for the North and Northern have just announced, upon your recommendation, that its season ticket holders will be given the cash equivalent of a four-week refund because of the scale of disruption. We believe that similar measures are required to ensure that GTR and Network Rail are held to account for the shambolic service being provided to our constituents, and to provide redress for passengers.
The immediate priority is to sort out the chaos. However, a significant rebate (paid for by the industry, not the taxpayer) would demonstrate that the Government has understood the impact of the disruption on passengers, and has responded to their concerns. There has already been over a month’s disruption, so a rebate at this point would be entirely justified. We very much hope that this will be brought forward as soon as possible.
With best wishes.
The Rt Hon Nick Herbert CBE MP
The Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP
The Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon KCB MP
The Rt Hon Sir Oliver Heald QC MP
Heidi Allen MP
Sir Peter Bottomley MP
Jonathan Djanogly MP
Nadine Dorries MP
Tim Loughton MP
Anne Main MP
Bob Neill MP
Dr Matthew Offord MP
Chris Philp MP
Jeremy Quin MP
Henry Smith MP
1. To see a copy of the letter sent to the Transport Secretary please see here.
2. To read Nick’s article for Conservative Home on the disruption please see here
3. To find out more about the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail, of which Nick is an Officer, see here.