Commuters call on Philp to carry out his threat to Southern

Commuters in Croydon are calling on local MP Chris Philp to carry out his threat to demand that Southern Railway be stripped of its train-operating franchise as a consequence of the abysmal level of service.

Southern trainPhilp has pursued the populist “bash the rail operator” stance almost from the moment he arrived as a Westminster new boy last year, writing this column for Inside Croydon (click here) in July.

It was a position Philp repeated last December, too, when he called on the operator to lose its franchise.

Now Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader has been in touch, urging Philp to carry out his threat.

It was reported last week that Southern had cancelled nearly 500 trains in one seven-day period due to “unprecedented” staff sickness levels. The absenteeism is widely thought to be the result of a working conditions dispute which will see a 24-hour strike staged this Wednesday.

A survey by the Consumers’ Association magazine, Which?, found that rail passengers in the south-east are the least satisfied in the country (no shit, Sherlocks), while watchdog Transport Focus named Thameslink, Southeastern and Southern as the nation’s least-popular operators. Research by the Department for Transport suggests that 20 per cent of rail passengers into London face a journey each day in which they are forced to stand in cramped conditions to their destination.

Meanwhile, commuters have been expected to pay ever-rising fares, reported to be the costliest in Europe. A 12-month season ticket from Coulsdon Town to Blackfriars can cost almost £2,000, for a service which is frequently delayed, cancelled or just unreliable.

Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, made his pledge to his constituents in March.

Then, Philp announced on Twitter that, “I will be calling on them to lose their franchise in May if the service hasn’t improved significantly by then.”

It seems unlikely that anyone would try to argue that there has been any improvement in the Southern service in the past eight weeks.

And that’s when the trains are running “normally”.

Commuters from Croydon on services from all operators have been particularly hard-hit by slow-running and unreliable trains for the past two years, during major engineering works at London Bridge which have also affected the running of Thameslink services on the Brighton to Bedford line.

Chris Philp SouthernThis week’s commutes look set to be hard-hit by another 24-hour strike caused by disastrous industrial relations between the operators and trades unions.

The RMT union has called the strike in protest against what it calls the “threatening and abusive” stance Southern is adopting, including setting a deadline of May 20 for staff to sign up to plans to changes which will see the removal of onboard conductors on some routes.

Philp’s promise of action is pushing at an already open door. The Department for Transport has proposed that large chunks of the commuter network should be handed over to the control of the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The DfT has suggested that Transport for London could take control of all suburban services running to and from London Bridge, Charing Cross, Victoria and Waterloo, as operator contracts expire between 2017 and 2021.

TfL already operates the London Overground line which runs from West Croydon and Norwood Junction, to widespread praise for the efficiency of the service.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Chris Philp MP, Commuting, Coulsdon, Croydon South, East Croydon, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Transport, West Croydon and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Commuters call on Philp to carry out his threat to Southern

  1. joeycan says:

    I went to a meeting where Gavin Barwell MP also demanded that Southern Rail should be stripped of its franchise. So all it now wants is for Steve Reed, Croydon North MP to echo the sentiments of his parliamentary colleagues and we will have all three local MPs singing from the same hymn sheet. When has this happened before?

    The fly in the ointment is, of course that wonderful word “significantly”. How many interpretations will we see regarding that vague word; what a statisticians delight !!

  2. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog.

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