Maria Caulfield, Member of Parliament for Lewes, today joined colleagues from across the Commons at a Westminster Hall Debate when the Performance of Govia Thameslink rail service was again the hot topic of discussion.
MP’s from all parties gave both their own, and their constituents shocking accounts of the poor level of service currently being provided by Southern.
The pressure put onto students trying to reach schools and colleges, commuters losing their jobs, the risk to passenger’s health, damage to family life and access being denied to disabled rail users were among those issues raised by MPs.
The Lewes MP, who is holding public meetings across the constituency, the first due to take place tomorrow evening in Seaford, started by stating that the current delays had been ongoing for many weeks and months, with 1350 trains delayed each and every week last month.
The Member looked to reflect the general remarks already made by parliamentary colleagues, before informing colleagues and the Rail Minister that for many of her constituents living in rural locations, the train service is the only form of public transport available to them.
The Lewes MP said that she would rather be using this time campaigning to increase the number of trains stopping at some of the stations within her constituency, like Cookesbridge where currently trains only stop during peak times during the working week.
Moving on, the Lewes MP said that the largest of her towns, Seaford with a population of twenty seven thousand, will, together with Newhaven, see a massive reduction in service, seeing some 80% of train journeys cut to branch line with less than a week’s notice.
Newhaven, the town in which the Member of Parliament has situated her constituency office, then came into the limelight, as she highlighted the regeneration that she will seek to see through for the town, and the major part that the cross-channel ferry to Dieppe plays in that aim, informing colleagues and the Rail Minister that she is ashamed to turn around to the French and inform them that there is no train service to the harbour in which their ferries dock.
Summing up, the Lewes MP put six asks to the Minister as follows:
• Each and every train ticket has to have a 25% reduction in fares whether a single ticket or season ticket.
• Urgent re-introduction of the branch line for the reasons given above.
• New management taking over Southern Rail if the franchise isn’t taken away.
• Re-introduce trolley service – 3 hour journeys without a bottle of water or a sandwich is unacceptable.
• De-classify 1st class – allowing people, particularly those pregnant, elderly or disabled to take 1st class seats when no other seats are available.
• In the words of the Member of East Worthing and Shoreham, enough is enough!
To watch the Maria’s full speech please watch the following clip: