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Fighting for better train services

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08 May 2014
Key issues in Blackheath On Tuesday evening I secured an ‘End of Day Adjournment Debate on services operated by Southeastern Trains. For those who don’t know, these debates are an opportunity for a Member of Parliament to speak for around fifteen minutes on a topic of their choosing, and receive answers to the points they raise from the relevant Minister.

I have been seeking this debate for some time, as each month I receive emails from my constituents complaining about overcrowding, delays and cancellations on the rail network. As someone who frequently travels on Southeastern trains to make my own journey to work, I am all too aware of these problems.

High quality train services are hugely important in Lewisham, as our corner of South East London remains untouched by the tube network. Southeastern Trains run virtually all rail services used by my constituents and the census shows that Lewisham, as a borough, is highly dependent upon them (about 37000 people use trains to get to and from work every day). My constituents pay exorbitant sums for their travel and they are right to expect an excellent service, which they are simply not getting at the moment.

I used my speech to call for 12-car trains to serve stations in Lewisham during the rush hour, which I believe would ease the huge capacity problems on the network. Considering millions of pounds have been spent over the last few years lengthening platforms at local stations, it seems nonsensical not to have longer trains to make use of them.

In the debate I also mentioned the frequency of trains stopping on the Catford Loop line, the rising cost of rail travel and Southeastern’s decision to keep the Platform 4 gate at Lewisham Station permanently closed. The latter point is something that I have been raising with Southeastern for a number of years, but the issue has taken on new importance given the regeneration scheme underway next to Lewisham station. Access to the station is being temporarily restricted as a result of this work and at the very least, I believe there should be a temporary re-opening of the Platform 4 Gate.

For those interested in the Lewisham Platform 4 issue, you may wish to sign this petition organised by local resident Paul Spellar.

You can read my speech from Tuesday evening’s debate in full here.

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