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MP calls for an urgent debate on the performance of GTR and Network Rail

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Last week Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert asked the Leader of the House of Commons to schedule an urgent debate on the performance of Govia Thameslink Rail and Network Rail.

Mr Herbert said:

“Thank you Mr Speaker.  The new rail timetable had already disadvantaged my constituents in Hassocks, increasing journey times and withdrawing peak time services, but the introduction has been a complete shambles with the cancellation and withdrawal of services on a daily basis that continues to disadvantage my constituents.  Can we have an urgent debate on the abysmal performance of Govia Thameslink Rail and Network Rail so that these organisations can be held to account?”

The Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, responded as follows:

“My honourable friend is absolutely right to raise what must be a hugely frustrating experience for his constituents. The disruption to Govia Thameslink Railway service has been completely unacceptable and the Secretary of State for Transport has himself apologised for the disruption passengers are experiencing.  

“DfT is working round the clock with GTR to stabilise the services, including monitoring ongoing performance and agreeing a revised, more consistent timetable.  But I do hope that my honourable friend will encourage his constituents to apply for GTR’s delay repay compensation, so that they can get their money back on all affected journeys.”

Last week, Nick wrote to the Chief Operating Officer of GTR, Nick Brown, about the timetable changes to peak direct commuter services to London from Hassocks.

The letter, dated 6 June, reads as follows:

Dear Nick,

Thank you for updating MPs this morning in the House of Commons about the GTR/Southern timetable changes.

Gareth Edwards, your stakeholder manager, assured my office by e-mail on 22 May that the timetable changes would only increase journey times from Hassocks “by an average of 7 minutes.”  The changes were supposed to lead to “significant improvements in capacity and service” and yet my constituents are regularly reporting journey times that are taking far longer than this.

I would be grateful if you could re-examine the peak direct commuter services to London from Hassocks to ensure that your appraisal of the new journey times is correct.  I enclose a copy of Mr Edwards’ email of 22 May for your reference.

Of course my constituents welcome additional off-peak service provision, but they cannot understand why a raft of peak direct commuter services have been removed from the new timetable.  This is the final straw for those who have spent in excess of £5,000 on season tickets and who rely on these services to get to work.  I would be grateful for an explanation as to why you have cut these services in particular.

I enclose a copy of my letter of 24 April to Charles Horton, your CEO, my letter of 25 April to the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson MP, and my letter of 4 June to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, all of which outline my concerns in more detail.

With kind regards.
Yours sincerely
Nick Herbert