Nearly a year after first making the threat, Chris Philp, the MP for Croydon South, has written to the transport minister to demand the immediate withdrawal of the multi-million-pound franchise from Govia Thameslink Railway for operating Southern and other commuter train services. He says he has acted now after nearly 1,000 train services were disrupted on one day earlier this week.The Conservative MP’s letter calls for the suburban service to be handed over to Transport for London “immediately”.
Philp today told Inside Croydon that the final straw for him over the deteriorating service levels was on Monday, when nearly 1,000 train services operated on Southern, Thameslink and the Gatwick Express were delayed or cancelled in one 24-hour period.
“I said I would give GTR until May to improve,” Philp said. “It seemed only fair to give them until the end of May, which I have done.
“For me, the terrible performance on Monday was the final straw.”
Train services from the Croydon area into London Bridge, including Thameslink and other Southern services which serve Philp’s constituency through Coulsdon and Purley, have undergone considerable disruption over the past 18 months due to the major engineering work going on around the terminus station and on the lines that run across the Thames.
But even that cannot justify the volume of delays and skipped stations – a particular issue for those commuters using Coulsdon South – which occur daily.
“GTR offer the worst service in the country, and it is getting worse,” Philp said.
“My constituents’ lives are being made a misery by the continual cancellations, lateness, station skipping and over-crowding. This franchise is too big and unmanageable, and is being very badly run at present. I am therefore calling for the franchise to be removed from GTR immediately and broken up in to smaller franchises.
“The suburban commuter lines, including the lines from Croydon to Victoria, are due to be moved under the jurisdiction of TfL by 2021. This needs to be done immediately. TfL has a far better track record than GTR and can be trusted to run the services more effectively.
“It is time to end the Southern misery now. We need more drivers, a better managed and motivated workforce, better communication with passengers, longer trains, more declassification of first class when trains are over-crowded and automatic compensation for lateness for Oyster card-users.
“Longer term, more investment is needed in track and infrastructure upgrades.”
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