While the County Times is more than enough of the papers for many residents (!) those who take the Times may have seen reported this week the campaign being driven forward by my neighbouring Sussex MPs and me on GTR. Clearly the priority is to fix the problems but beyond that we want a full additional compensation scheme for all those who have been severely affected by the timetabling chaos, funded by the industry, not the taxpayer.
Over the past month, 3,400 trains across the GTR network have failed to reach their final destination within 5 minutes of their scheduled arrival. I have repeated raised the concerns of Littlehaven and Balcombe passengers over station skipping as well as numerous other specific complaints flagged by constituents including poor communication, on the station concourse let alone on-line.
Not for the first time I raised the issue of short-formed trains this week in the Commons. Given the “problem” is the need to retrain drivers there is little rationale as to why trains that are operating should be doing so short formed. The risks on crowded platforms of trains arriving and then having too few carriages are apparent: as are the real impacts on passengers of cramped and stifling journeys in the current heat wave.
As well as the Commons statement I attended a meeting this week as an officer of our All Party Group on Southern Rail with GTR and Network rail management. They are determined that the interim timetable which will come into effect on 15th July will mean that 90% of their promised high peak services and 83% of their off peak services will be running. The remaining full timetable as will be implemented by December.
The dilemma for the industry is whether to proceed with planned engineering work and in particular the 5 day anticipated closure of Balcombe tunnel over the October half term. The work is necessary and must at some point be undertaken. However I have previously raised concerns that on past evidence a temporary closure on a planned basis seems to just get extended…. Serious consideration is underway about postponing this work until the timetable is secure, that has to be the top priority throughout the industry.
Photo caption: Fete season is on us with a vengeance! Good to see Natalie (a school governor) and Benedict Loveless at the Heron Way Primary School Fete - many former pupils returned to mark the school’s 50th anniversary year.