Croydon South’s Tory MP, Chris Philp, has called on the rail minister to block a planned 1.9 per cent fare rise on Southern Railways.
“For a service that has failed its customers time and again, this will be seen as unacceptable,” Philp said in his letter, sent on Friday, to Paul Maynard, the recently appointed Under Secretary of State at DafT, the Department for Transport.
Govia Thameslink Railway, who operate Southern, do so not as franchisees, but under contract from DafT.
The above-inflation fare increase is allowed under the Government’s agreements with the various rail franchises. Philp estimates that the fare increase will cost commuters in Coulsdon, Purley and South Croydon an extra £32 per year.
“Southern’s record under the ownership of Govia Thameslink Railway has been abysmal,” Philp writes.
Philp has been lobbying for more than a year for the management of the commuter train services currently under GTR, including Thameslink, to be taken away from the failing company and handed over to Transport for London.
Last month, unable to deliver its timetabled services, GTR introduced an emergency schedule across its network, axing 15 per cent of its services. Nearly six weeks later, there is still no firm indication how long this emergency timetable will be operated on rail services which are supposed to “serve” south London, Surrey, the Sussex coast and Kent. Season ticket-holders from some stations in and around Croydon have been left with no trains at all for their daily journey to and from work.
In his letter to his Conservative Government colleague, Philp writes, “This increase in prices will not translate into an improved service for customers… Over the summer Southern Rail has slashed the number of operating trains by 341 per day. For passengers this means a decrease in the level of service that they receive. This is on top of extended periods of time when almost a third of all trains have either been late or cancelled…
“By preventing Southern from profiting from this pay rise we as a government will be sending a clear message to train companies that they cannot treat their customers in such a way.”
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