Govia Thameslink Rail Service

Nick's Speech in the Adjournment Debate

Nick Herbert (Arundel & South Downs) (Con)

Further to that point, do not 60% of trains operated by GTR, and, indeed, a highly significant proportion of the whole network, already have driver-only operated doors? It cannot therefore be the case that they are all unsafe.Such trains have been in operation for more than 30 years—even on the British Rail network—and they are perfectly safe, in my view.

 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport (Paul Maynard)

On 5 September, I was pleased to inform the House that Southern had reinstated 119 weekday services. That means that more than nine out of 10 trains on the network are now running to the original weekday timetable. At the moment, that is benefiting passengers mainly on inner-London services, with almost all London Bridge peak trains running again and the restoration of the service to Southern’s west London line.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley has pointed out, Sussex passengers have yet to benefit. I will meet GTR later this week further to discuss its plans. I have made it clear that I expect the tempo of the introduction to be maintained and that the matter should be resolved in weeks, not months. I acknowledge that some routes are still suffering badly, and my priority is making sure that those services are restored in a timely, sensible and lasting manner.

It is unacceptable that the rail unions are causing more disruption for passengers by holding these strikes and unofficial industrial action. The real solution is for the RMT to bring the dispute to a close and start to put passengers first.

It is understandable that, with services as they are, my hon. Friend has raised the issue of fares, the cost of which has an immense impact on people’s budgets. That is why, as he pointed out, we have capped fares that we regulate at inflation for four years running and will continue to do so for the life of this Parliament. That means that fares can rise only by 1.9% in 2017, providing an annual saving of £425 in the five years until 2020.

I also acknowledge that compensation is an important part of this picture, given the cost of rail travel and the disruption caused. In its current form, Delay Repay compensation continues to apply against the permanent standard timetable. It is important that all travellers are aware of that when assessing their eligibility to claim. The Secretary of State and I are continuing to consider more generous compensation for passengers on this route, and we hope to make a timely announcement. I want to ensure that we focus on restoring normality to the timetable, and that has to be the most important task at hand

 

You can read the full debate on Hansard, here

Joe CoombesSouthern, Trains