MPs from commuter constituencies across southern England are demanding action from the Transport Secretary. But Croydon South’s Chris Philp is not among them, as JEREMY CLACKSON reports
Calls for the resignation of the Transport Secretary and for Govia Thameslink to be stripped of their contract with DafT, the Department for Transport, are likely to grow stronger this afternoon, as Tory minister Chris Grayling is expected to make a statement in the House of Commons over the on-going shambles that is the rail network.
Over the weekend, Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones pulled together a letter which went to Grayling last night, accusing Govia of “abject failure”.
The letter lays out a set of demands ahead of a meeting with Grayling later today to discuss the GTR/Northern railway timetable chaos.
The new timetables, introduced on May 20, have proved beyond the rail companies’ abilities to implement, and this week the rail management have been axing hundreds of scheduled services from the timetable.
Commuter groups, such as the Association of British Commuters, claim that some of these service “deletions” are being done in an attempt to reduce the liabilities under the Delay Repay scheme – although ultimately, it is the tax-payer, and not the private rail companies, that foot the compensation bills.
Jones’s letter to Grayling has been signed by 20 MPs from four different parties, and includes Croydon North Labour MP Steve Reed OBE, and Carshalton and Wallington LibDem Tom Brake.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton, which has been badly affected by the rail chaos, has signed the letter together with Tory MPs including Tim Loughton (from Sussex coast constituency East Worthing and Shoreham) and Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex), the grandson of Winston Churchill.
But Croydon South’s Tory MP, Chris Philp, does not have his name on the letter.
The letter to Grayling states:
The significant and ongoing problems on the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail networks over the past 12 days have affected hundreds of thousands of commuters across our constituencies. The abject failure of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to deliver anything remotely close to a decent service resulted in 455 GTR services cancelled or delayed in just one day.
Many of us have been contacted by constituents who have been late for work, medical appointments or to meet their children due to train cancellations. This anger has only been worsened by poor communication between GTR and passengers regarding delays, with reports that GTR have known of cancellations hours before informing customers. There have been widespread reports of overcrowding on platforms and on trains, as well as significant issues faced by disabled passengers needing to travel.
We were pleased to hear from your office committing to meet with Members of Parliament representing communities affected by this disruption on Monday, 4th June. As you stated earlier this week, the disruption following these changes has been ‘wholly unsatisfactory’ and it is essential that this issue is resolved as soon as possible.
As representatives of constituencies served by GTR we urgently need to give clear assurances to our constituents that the Government is tackling this as a priority. We therefore ask that at our meeting on Monday you provide us with clear information on: how the situation was allowed to get to his point; what the department is doing right now to rectify this situation; and what plans the Government has in the longer term to resolve the many significant issues with this franchise.
In particular, we would be grateful if you could confirm whether your Department was aware that delays to the finalisation of the timetable changes had left just three weeks between Network Rail confirming the new timetables and the planned launch date, rather than the expected twelve weeks? If so, could you clarify why the Department did not encourage GTR to delay implementing the new timetable?
We remain committed to solving rail disruption as urgently as possible and ensuring that customers do not face such inconveniences in the future.
Sarah Jones MP
Bim Afolami MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Ellie Reeves MP
Gavin Shuker MP
Helen Hayes MP
Rt Hon Joan Ryan MP
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP
Marsha de Cordova MP
Mohammad Yasin MP
Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP
Peter Kyle MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Siobhain McDonagh MP
Stephen Lloyd MP
Steve Reed MP
Teresa Pearce MP
Tim Loughton MP
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP
Vicky Foxcroft MP
- You can help to support independent, investigative, community journalism in Croydon, and for just £1 per week. Click here to become part of Inside Croydon’s growing team of supporters
- Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
- Inside Croydon is the borough’s only independent news source, and still based in the heart of Croydon
- 1.4 MILLION PAGE VIEWS IN 2017
- “Monitored” by the council CEO since 2010
- ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2017: Inside Croydon was source for two award-winning nominations in Private Eye magazine’s annual celebration of civic cock-ups
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org