Rail service

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Nick has been deeply concerned about the poor performance of the local rail service and the impact on his constituents.

This issue has been a priority for Nick.  He has held numerous meetings with ministers and GTR/Southern's senior management, as well as with leaders of the rail unions, and has also repeatedly raised the issue in the Commons.

Nick's overall view is that GTR/Southern's performance has undoubtedly been totally unacceptable, but that infrastructure issues (which before industrial action began were causing 60 per cent of delays) also needed dealing with by Network Rail.  However, the service became far worse in 2017 as a result of  industrial action involving strikes and an effective 'work to rule'.  This union action, over the introduction of driver-only operated trains, was wholly unjustified.  Such trains already operate safely across the national rail network.  Since their introduction on Southern the number of staff on trains has increased, not decreased, and no members of staff have lost their jobs or pay.

While Nick called for GTR/Southern to lose its franchise if the company did not improve performance, this was not a feasible solution while industrial action was the main cause of delays.  Nor would nationalisation be the answer: after all, Network Rail is already in public ownership.  The service has improved now that the train drivers have settled their dispute and guards are less able to cause disruption, but there is much further to go.

The Government has made substantial investment in the rail service.  The £6 billion London Bridge upgrade caused significant disruption while work took place, but will improve services.  In January 2017 the Government announced a £300 million package of improvements to boost the resilience of the infrastructure on the Southern and Thameslink railway networks, to be delivered by Network Rail.  The Government has also put in place measures to make the operator and track work together more effectively, and in November 2017 announced that the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise, which is currently held by GTR, will be broken up in 2021.

However, Nick's view is that further reform is needed, and that rail lines in Sussex need major new investment to meet rising demand and improve old infrastructure.  The number of passengers on Southern's lines has doubled in just a decade.  Local people deserve an accountable rail service that is fit for purpose.

 
 

Chronological list of Nick's actions

2018

 

1. Meeting of the all-party parliamentary group (appg) southern rail

Nick attended a meeting of the APPG on Southern Rail with Nick Brown, the Chief Operating Officer of GTR/Southern and John Halsall, Route Managing Director South East at Network Rail, to hear about planned works on the network and the introduction of the new timetable.  Nick raised the need for further major investment in the local rail network as well as the issue of peak trains not stopping at Hassocks under new timetable. (28.03.18)

2017

2. Meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport

Nick met with the Transport Secretary and the Rails Minister to discuss the local rail service and impress on the Government the need to ensure that performance continues to improve across the network.  They also discussed the upcoming industrial action by the RMT.  Nick emphasised the need for GTR/Southern to improve their management of the network, including the operation of ticket machines and offices, again raising the case of Hassocks station. (30.10.17)

3. Raising constituents' concerns over faulty ticket machines and ticket office closures at Hassocks station

 Nick at the opening of the new Hassocks station building in 2013

Nick at the opening of the new Hassocks station building in 2013

Nick wrote again to Nick Brown, COO of GTR, to reiterate his expectation that GTR urgently address his constituent's concerns regarding persistent faults with the ticket machines at Hassocks station and a failure to properly staff the ticket office.  Nick received a response from GTR/Southern which you can find hereNick also received a response on this issue from the Rails Minister which you can find here(5.10.17)

4. Meeting of the Southern Rail APPG

Nick attended the inaugural meeting of this Parliament of the APPG on Southern Rail, and was re-elected as an Officer of the APPG.  Nick and other Southern MP's were joined by Nick Brown, COO of GTR, and John Halsall, South East Route Managing Director at Network Rail.  Nick challenged GTR on the need to improve performance on the line and again raised the issue of Hassocks' ticket office and out-of-order ticket machines.  Mr Brown assured him that he was personally dealing with the matter and that GTR had ordered a new model of machine for the network. (6.9.17)

5. Raising constituents' concerns over proposed timetable changes at Amberley Station

amberley rail sos.jpg

Nick wrote to wrote to Charles Horton, the CEO of GTR/Southern, to raise concerns over the proposed timetable changes to services to and from Amberley station, following significant local concern over the potential impact on local commuters and businesses.  Nick received a response back from Nick Brown, the COO of GTR, stating that following a review Southern would add additional services to provide a half-hourly service during peak and shoulder-peak times. You can find this response here. (13.8.17)

6. Raising constituents' concerns about the Hassocks ticket office

Nick wrote to Charles Horton, the CEO of GTR/Southern, to raise concerns over the continued closure of the Hassocks ticket office and the persistent failings of the ticket vending machines.  Nick received a response back from Nick Brown, the COO of GTR, outlining how Southern intend to improve the situation, which you can read here. (7.8.17)

7. Meeting with ASLEF 

Nick, alongside other Southern MPs, met with Mick Whelan, General Secretary of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, to discuss the disruption across the Southern Rail service and how to approach resolving their dispute with GTR/Southern. (18.7.17)

8. Meeting with Network Rail

Nick met with John Halsall, the South East Route Managing Director for Network Rail to discuss planned improvements to the Brighton Mainline. (18.7.17)   

9.  Meeting with GTR/Southern

Nick met with representatives of GTR/Southern to discuss the local rail service. (18.7.17)

10.  Letter from the Transport Secretary

Nick received a letter from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, giving details of how GTR's fine of £13.4 million will be reinvested into performance and passenger improvements.  You can read this letter here. (13.7.17)

11. Speech in the Gibb Report Debate in the House of Commons 

Speaking in the Commons Debate, Nick raised the wholly unnacceptable impact of the ongoing Southern Rail dispute on his constituents, the need for greater infrastructure investment in the South East, and the consequences of the Union's industrial action on the rail service.  You can read Nick's speech in the debate here. (4.7.17)

12. Meeting with RMT Union  

Nick, alongside other Southern MPs, met with Mick Cash, General Secretary of the RMT, to discuss their ongoing industrial action on Southern and to challenge them to end their indefensible and disruptive strike action. (4.7.17) 

13. Article for the West Sussex County Times. 

In an article for the West Sussex County Times, Nick discusses the conclusions of the Gibb Report and the role of the Unions in the Southern Rail crisis.  You can read the article here. (29.6.17)

14. Meeting with the Transport Secretary

 Nick met with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to discuss the ongoing Southern Rail crisis (28.6.17)

15.  Letter from the Transport Secretary

Nick received a letter from the Transport Secretary on the publication of the Gibb Report into the Southern Rail system and the ongoing situation with ASLEF (22.06.17)

16.  Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Southern Rail

Members of the APPG met with the senior management of Southern Rail.  Nick emphasised to Southern’s Chief Executive, Charles Horton, and his team that while their performance had gradually improved since November, this must continue and that there was further to go.  At the meeting, Southern Rail shared a report giving updates on their performance over the past year, in a slideshow that can be seen here. (24.04.17).

17. Letter from the Transport Secretary

Nick received a letter from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announcing an investment of £300 milllion by the Government towards improving rail infrastructure along the Southern and Thameslink rail networks. The work will target locations identified by Network Rail as causing the most significant delays, and should result in a 15 per cent reduction in delay minutes for passengers per year.  (13.03.17) 

18.  Meeting with Transport Secretary

Nick and other Southern MPs met with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, in order to air rail users' grievances and to receive updates on the Government's efforts to encourage both parties to resolve the dispute. (20.02.17)

19. Letter from the Transport Secretary

Nick received a letter from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. (02.02.17)

20. Voting in support of new measures to prevent unreasonable industrial action on critical national services

Nick voted in favour of a Bill introduced by Chris Philp (Conservative MP for Croydon South) that aimed to prevent industrial action taken on critical national services, defined to include railways and the Underground, that disproportionately affects the public.  The Bill was voted down by Labour and SNP MPs (24.01.17)

21. Meeting with West Sussex MPs

Nick met with other Southern MPs whose constituents are affected by the rail disruptions, and they discussed their joint response to the ongoing problems.   (17.01.2017)

22. Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail

Nick and other Members of the APPG met with the new route managing director of Network Rail for the South East, to discuss Network Rail's plans to improve performance across the Southern lines.  (11.01.17)

23. Discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport

Nick, along with other Southern MPs, met with the Transport Secretary to discuss the ongoing situation with Southern and steps to resolve it. (09.01.17)

Nick spoke to the Transport Secretary about ongoing rail difficulties and the impact on his constituents. (04.01.17)

Letter from the Transport Secretary to MPs with an update on his efforts to resolve the situation (05.01.17). 

Letter from Charles Horton, Chief Executive of GTR, about the Office for Rail & Road (ORR) safety report on driver only operation:  (05.01.17).

Full ORR safety report (05.01.17).

2016

24. Article for the West Sussex County Times

In an article for the West Sussex County Times Nick reiterates his belief that serious problems with the track and rail operator  need to be tackled, but that militant unions are the principal cause of current rail disruption. You can read the article here. (21.12.16)

25.  Meeting with the Prime Minister

Nick, along with other Southern MPs, met with Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the Government's response to the Southern crisis, and in particular the recent strikes by both ASLEF and the RMT. (19.12.16)

26. News release

In a news release Nick called for an end to the disruption on Southern's services. You can read the release here (14.12.16).  

27. Meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport 

Nick, along with other Southern MPs, met with the Transport Secretary to recieve an update on the Government's response to the Southern crisis, and in particular the ASLEF Driver's strike this week. (13.12.16)

28. Article for the Telegraph

Nick's article for the Telegraph calls on the Unions to end the chaos on Southern Rail.  You can read the article here. (07.12.16)

29. Meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport 

Nick met with the Transport Secretary and the Rail Minister again, with other MPs whose constituents have beeen affected, this week.  Nick once again raised his strong concerns about the current service and said that it could not be tolerated.  He called for compensation for GTR/Southern's customers, to be funded by the company, and legislative action to deal with the effeet of the rail unions' unreasonable industrial action on an essential public service.  Further information is available here. (14.11.16).

30. Meeting with GTR/Southern senior managers

Nick met senior managers of GTR/Southern again at the Commons earlier this month to raise his concerns about the service and to hear what was being done to addrests performance issues and to settle the dispute with the rail unions (02.11.16). 

31. Meeting of the APPG on Southern Rail

Members of the APPG met with the Rail Minister and the newly appointed executive, Chris Gibb, dedicated to managing the improvement package.  Mr Gibb updated MPs on the current situation and plans to improve performance (12.10.16).

32. Meeting of the APPG on Southern Rail

Members of the APPG met with the Rail Minister to question him on the improvement package that he and the Transport Secretary announced on 01.09.16 and his thoughts on what needs to be done to get the service back to an acceptable level (14.09.16).

33. Adjournment Debate on Govia Thameslink Railway Service

Speaking in the debate, Nick asked the Minister whether Driver-Only Operated trains were safe, given that they are already used on 60 per cent of GTR’s network. (12.09.16)

34. Meeting with Secretary of State for Transport

Nick met the Transport Secretary along with other MPs to discuss the issues that his constituents are facing as a result of the ongoing dispute between GTR and the RMT (05.09.16).

35. Statement from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail

Nick attended an emergency meeting with the APPG on Southern Rail and the new Rail Minister to discuss the ongoing disruptions of the rail service (21.07.16).

36. Parliamentary Question about Disruption on Southern Rail

Nick's question during Business of the House Questions (21.07.16).

37. Session of the Transport Select Committee

New Rail Minister, Paul Maynard questioned on Southern rail services.  You can watch a recording of the proceedings here. (20.07.16).

38. MP: unions must not escape blame for Southern Rail disruption

Nick's news release following on from the Westminster Hall Debate (see below). He said that the rail unions must not escape blame for the serious disruption to Southern Rail services over recent weeks. (18.07.16)

39. The performance of Govia Thameslink rail service

Speaking in a Westminster Hall Debate on the performance of Govia Thameslink rail service, Nick called for proper blame to be attributed to the unions (13.07.16)

40. Meeting of the APPG on Southern Rail

Nick attended the inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail in July. The aim of the cross party group is to scrutinise the operation and performance of the Southern Rail franchise with a view to ensuring service improvement by the franchise(13.07.16).

41. Article - My Week

Nick’s article for the West Sussex County Times saying that in his view current problems on Southern Rail are being caused by industrial action (07.07.16): http://tinyurl.com/hlblep6

42. Session of the Transport Select Committee

RMT union and Govia Thameslink Railway questioned on Southern rail services (04.07.16)

43. MPs’ Meeting with the Rail Unions

Nick met with the General Secretaries of the RMT (guards) and ASLEF (drivers) rail unions to discuss Southern Rail’s service (04.07.16).

44. Article - Rail Service

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

45. Article - Rail Services in West Sussex

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

46. MP slams 'absolutely lamentable' rail service

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

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

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

48. MP demands accountability for rail failures

Nick’s news release following a Westminster Hall Debate on the performance of GTR and Network Rail. (30.03.16)

49. The performance of Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail

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

50. Article – Trains

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

2015

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

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

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

Nick’s news release following Westminster Hall Debate on the performance of Southern Railway and Network Rail. (13.07.15)

53. The performance of Southern Railway and Network Rail

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

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

Nick’s news release following a meeting between the Rail Minister and MPs. (29.05.15)

55.  Article for the West Sussex County Times

In an article for the West Sussex County Times Nick details the meeting he had with other Surrey and Sussex MPs  and the Rail Minister about poor service on the Brighton line (20.05.15).

56.  Secured improvement pledge from rail companies

In a news release Nick welcomed the pledge to improve made by rail companies, after MPs demanded improvements. (2.02.2015)

57.  Meeting with Rail Minister

 In a news release Nick outlines his meeting with Rail Minister, in which they discussed the difficulties faced by constituents from the poor rail service. (14.01.2015)

Letters sent in response to Nick's actions

Nick has also 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: