SOUTHERN 1: SITUATION “DAMAGING LIVES” SAYS MP “Performance lamentable”
Southern Railway have come under more fire from MPs in a second debate.
Jim Dowd, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge told fellow MPs: “The difficulty is that Southern has provided lamentable services consistently throughout the time it has had the franchise.
“It worries me that the same company has the south-eastern franchise. “The company will say that there is a Chinese wall between the franchises but I fear the contagion may spread.
“Just yesterday, one of my constituents said: ‘On the new ‘emergency timetable’, peak time services, including the 8.02 from Anerley, have been cancelled meaning that passengers are forced to travel in overcrowded conditions on services that are often short formed and subject to delays and last minute cancellations.
‘There is nothing particularly new here. ‘Southern have always provided a sub-par service. ‘This most recent disaster, however, seems to be a lot worse than the usual chaos’,.
Mr Dowd told fellow MPs “People have had to get used to ‘the usual chaos’ when the service is provided by Southern.
“I was standing on Forest Hill station the other day, fortunately waiting for an Overground service to Canada Water to come here. “While I was there, the first train listed was the Southern service into London Bridge.
“As I stood there, it went from ‘on time’, to ‘delayed’, to ‘cancelled’ within the space of four minutes.
“The short-running of trains is compounding the problem. “People get on trains such as the Victoria to London Bridge line, which is supposed to go all the way, but they often get to Crystal Palace and are told that the train is terminating there, going both ways—to Victoria or to London Bridge.
“The other day, a constituent told me that he had spent £700 on a season ticket for the service between Beckenham Junction and Victoria.
“That service has now been completely cancelled. “I have been on to GTR to try to find out what the compensation arrangements are but, as the service no longer exists, my constituent believes that he now has little or no chance of being able to sustain his current job.
“The situation is damaging lives. “The sheer unpredictability of it all, from day to day, adds to people’s stress and the difficulties that they face.
“I know that the Minister has tried valiantly, over a long time, to deal with the situation, but if Southern is not up to running the service, somebody else has to.”
On Wednesday Tim Loughton (Con, East Worthing and Shoreham), moving that this House
has considered the performance of Govia Thameslink rail service, said he had wanted to title the debate “The Woeful Performance of the GTR Service”, but the Table Office would not allow him to do so.
Mr Dowd said he wanted to “echo what others have said and to congratulate Tim Loughton not just on securing the debate, but on the passion and comprehensive nature of his arguments, reflecting the concerns of his constituents and everybody in this room.
“Nick Herbert (Con. Arundel and South Downs) made some points about the safety of trains without conductors.
“In the inner London part of the franchise, which GTR laughingly calls the metro zone, there are no conductors.
“If I thought for one moment that running driver-only trains was dangerous, I would be kicking up a fuss on behalf of my constituents who are expected to use trains without conductors. “I do not believe that that issue is the key to the problem.”
Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).