SOUTHERN 2: MP SLAMS EFFECT ON FAMILY LIFE. “FRANCHISE NEEDS TO BE WITHDRAWN – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”
Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes has slammed the effect Southern railway are having on family life – and called for their franchise to be scrapped.
Speaking in the same debate as Jim Dowd (see separate story) she said: “My constituents have shown immense patience and forbearance with their rail services while dealing with entirely unacceptable consequences to their quality of life.
“The impact on family life includes people being unable to see their children at bedtime, being consistently late picking up their children, being unable to meet caring responsibilities, losing jobs, having to move jobs and just simply dealing with the additional stress within lives that are already busy and stretched.
“The franchise needs to be withdrawn. “Enough is enough. “Patience has run out. “The franchise needs to be passed to Transport for London, which has a track record of running decent Overground rail services in the capital.
“That is what passengers want and there are huge levels of support for it.
“I accept that TfL cannot do that in a single step but we are in a crisis, and I call on the Minister to take action to allow the Department for Transport to take over in the interim while arrangements can be made to transfer the franchise to TfL.”
She said her constituents use Southern services into London Bridge and Victoria from stations such as East Dulwich, Peckham Rye and North Dulwich, and they use Thameslink services from Sydenham Hill, Herne Hill and Loughborough Junction.
“It is fair to say that, before the current crisis, services were already unacceptably poor. “The works at London Bridge were entirely mismanaged.
“Southern produced a timetable that was entirely unsustainable, had no resilience and was understaffed. “Satisfaction with GTR services is among the lowest in the country and, within that, the lowest level of satisfaction are within the metro part of the service and among commuters.
“That is simply unacceptable.
“Much has been said about the industrial dispute. “The responsibility for good industrial relations rests with all parties. “The seeds of the dispute go back a long way, and are about understaffing.
“GTR started the franchise with fewer drivers than the previous franchisee reported having in post. How was that even allowed to happen? GTR has been too slow to recruit and too slow to train.
“On top of all that is the introduction of the emergency timetable. “I was grateful to the Minister for meeting me a few weeks ago to discuss the issue, as Southern presented a sort of plan for getting through the industrial dispute.
“Then, with no warning and no briefing at all, the emergency timetable was introduced. “In my constituency that involved pretty much the wholesale withdrawal of commuter rail services on the Southern part of the network.
“Only one train out of four or five an hour run, and my constituents simply could not get on to those trains because they were too full.”
Earlier, she had congratulated Tim Loughton on securing the debate and “on his excellent contribution. “I echo and agree with much of what has been said” she added. Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).