As a frequent user of SouthEastern, I know how my constituents are being let down by local rail services.
Ever since I was first elected I have pressed the Government to take steps to improve the situation and I have continued to do so in recent weeks.
The need for longer trains in the rush hour has been my number one priority and having attended a meeting with the Rail Minister at the end of November, I have been following up with a series of Parliamentary Questions
. From the responses I received, I am worried that the Government may be stalling on delivering the additional carriages needed to form 12 car trains. The Department for Transport has been working with SouthEastern on the business case to transfer carriages from the old Thameslink network, but this is still awaiting approval by the Department's Investment Board. I will continue to pursue this.
Looking to longer term improvements to rail services in South East London, I supported the case for Transport for London to take over suburban rail networks, as I believe this would improve reliability and provide a better service for commuters. This week the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, revealed that the Department for Transport has rejected the proposal made by TfL to become the franchising authority for the SouthEastern franchise when it expires in 2018.
During an Urgent Question in Parliament this week, I pressed the Transport Secretary on the Government's change of heart. Watch my question here
After this failure by the Government to grasp the opportunity to transform rail services, the best Christmas present Chris Grayling could give South East commuters is the guarantee that in 2017 all rush hour trains serving stations in our part of London would be 12 car.