Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, has once again raised the issue of the deteriorating GTR (Southern Rail) services in the House of Commons. In answer the minister revealed that plans are being drawn up to bring in an alternative provider.
This follows the introduction of a new timetable towards the end of May, and the subsequent delays and cancellations that have occurred following its introduction. Ms Caulfield has spoken out almost on a daily basis about the travel issues, and has lately called for GTR to be stripped of their franchise if things do not improve in a matter of days.
Maria recently questioned Jo Johnson MP, the Rail Minister at the Department of Transport. She said that the delays are having a “devastating impact" on her constituents, and referred to issues of overcrowding and rural stations being skipped, leaving young people and those with disabilities stranded.
Maria drew on personal experience saying it took “three hours to travel 50 miles home last night”.
Mr Johnson replied saying that it is a “matter of urgency” to rectify the “unacceptable” service. He added, “The Secretary of State has been absolutely clear that all options are available to him should [GTR] have been found to have been negligent with respect to their contractual obligations.”
Maria said after the debate, “I know too well the miserable experience of travelling by train at present. My constituents expect a reliable, punctual service and the new timetable – which was designed to introduce new trains – has made matters far worse than ever before. GTR need to be held accountable for the poor service, and I am continuing to raise the issue with the Secretary of State, I was pleased to hear from the minister that plans are being put in pace to bring in an alternative operator should the decision be taken shortly to end the current franchise with Southern.”
Maria will meet the Secretary of State on Wednesday the 4th of July to discuss the issue further.