Wealden MP Nus Ghani has launched a ferocious attack on train operator Southern and other companies in the rail industry.
In a statement she referred to the “timetable being not worth the paper it’s written on”, saying the rail companies should be “ashamed for their performance”.
Ms Ghani launched her attacked after attending a “rail summit” meeting yesterday (January 18).
In a statement the MP said:
“Wealden’s train users have had to put up with ever worsening levels of performance on our railways.
“I have just attended the South East Quadrant Taskforce meeting, also attended by regional MPs, Ministers, Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Transport Focus and the Department for Transport’s Passenger Services team, and called on the government to set clear targets for Southern and Network Rail.
“All the organisations involved should be ashamed for their performance and I questioned the point of publishing a timetable which is not worth the paper it’s written on.
“I asked why GTR do not take a zero tolerance approach when employees are regularly not showing up for work, and also raised passenger communication failures and unsatisfactory compensation procedures.
“I have met with officials at Southern countless times both since and before my election as an MP, but at each and every one of those meetings I have heard the same old promises and plans for improvement.
“It’s no better when I meet with Network Rail.
“Every time we meet, the horizon for improvements is pushed back by six months, to 12 months, then to 18 months.
“But 2016 has begun as 2015 finished, with performance statistics at appallingly low levels and my constituents having to put up with unsatisfactory service which shows no signs of improvement.
“The government must set clear targets, on management performance, communication with passengers, planning in advance of disruption, procedures for giving compensation for disruption and plans for investment.
“If those targets are not met, there will be some very strong arguments in favour of finding an alternative holder of the franchise.
Call for Select Committee to investigate Southern
“Last week I also wrote for a second time to the Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, urging the Committee to conduct its own inquiry into Southern’s performance.
“Having originally requested an inquiry in July 2015, I am persisting with my efforts to secure one and wrote that: ‘Holding an inquiry will enable Southern and Network Rail to publicly set out their reasons for why the disruption is occurring, and should allow them to better appreciate the inconvenience and exasperation they are causing when making their plans’.”
During the meeting Ms Ghani cited two particular examples of “Southern’s failure to perform, raised with her by constituents, which included the early termination of services and the fact that for some passengers over 90% of trains do not meet timetabled times”.