20 August 2019
I know that the cost of travel to get to school for those in sixth form, college or an apprenticeship is expensive. Particularly for those who must get the train. While many who get the bus can purchase subsided bus passes, this hasn’t been the same with trains, with parents having to pay full adult fares at peak time prices.
The financial impact that this has on parents is something that myself and many of my colleagues have been lobbying hard to resolve. Although it was a decision made by the local authority, it cannot be fair that those who get the train have to pay significantly more when they often have no alternative way to get to their place of education.
That is why I am so pleased that the Rail Delivery Group have introduced a 16-17 Saver Railcard, which will allow them to get 50% off, starting from 2 September. It should make a huge difference to families and I’m so glad that they have listened. Railcards are available to order today for £30 and you can find out more at www.16-17saver.co.uk.
13 August 2019
It was recently brought to my attention that National Rail required the Disabled Persons Railcard to be signed by the cardholder and made no discretion of alternatives should the cardholder be prevented from doing so due to disability.
Should it not be signed, the terms and conditions stated that it was invalid. This is not only impractical but also discriminatory against those who physically could not sign the card. I raised this with the Rail Delivery Group to ask that exemptions were made for cardholders who are unable to sign and am delighted that, despite saying that they have previously told customers other could sign it on their behalf, it is now officially in their terms and conditions that the card can be signed by someone who has permission to act on their behalf. I know this will benefit a lot of people and am really pleased that the Rail Delivery Group listened and made changes.
21 May 2019
Following last year’s disruption on the Southern network, three other MPs have worked with GTR to establish a £15million Passenger Benefit Fund which has £30,000 allocated to Edenbridge Town, Edenbridge, Hever, Cowden, Penshurst and Leigh stations.
This money can be spent on wider passenger benefit schemes, such as improvements to the GTR app and keeping toilets open throughout the day, or a scheme specific to the station, such as additional seats, cycle racks or waiting shelters.
As someone who commutes using Southern myself, I know this money could be spent on many things. But I want to know what your priorities are. I’ve set up a survey for you to let me know your preferences. Please fill it in here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SouthernBenefitFund) and, I hope, we can make best use of the funding provided to us.
14 February 2019
We all expect trains to run on time, as scheduled, and when there is disruption we can understand if there is good reason. But failing to schedule trains which are on your timetable is unacceptable. The Tonbridge-Redhill is a key line between Kent and Gatwick Airport and the South Coast, and the quickest way between Tonbridge and Edenbridge. I am disappointed to have discovered that GTR have not been scheduling services and that’s why I’ve asked the Rail Minister to take action. Watch the video here to see what I said.
21 November 2018
Southeastern have released the results of May 2018’s timetable consultation. This represents a positive change, especially for long suffering commuters on the Maidstone East line. Reductions of between 1 and 3 minutes will help passengers get to work quicker in the morning. I’m glad that Southeastern have recognised that journey times needed reducing from East Malling, West Malling and Borough Green and would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation.
05 June 2018
Yesterday, Britain Runs on Rail launched a consultation on fares regulation, the results of which it hopes to present to the Government for consideration. With the poor service we’ve been seeing across the country, it certainly can feel like tickets are poor value for money at the moment. This consultation is a great opportunity to put forward your thoughts on how tickets can be fairly priced, and how they can be more easily available, whether you use the train on daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.
This consultation is open until September 2018, and I would encourage you to respond if you feel that the current fare regulations could be improved, or even if you think they’re fine as they are. To submit a response, please click here.
16 May 2018
This morning, I met with David Statham, Managing Director and his team from Southeastern to discuss the new timetable changes. As many of you know I am deeply concerned about the consequences of this on the many people who rely on the rail service every day.
Though the new timetable will start as planned from Sunday, monitoring will take place from the very first day to make sure we find out if problems arise.
David has promised to update me on his assessment three weeks into the new timetable. We can look at making some small changes then, while I’ve also asked for greater transparency on longer term timetable changes.
However, I’d like to hear your thoughts too. Please let me know of your experiences so that we can ensure Southeastern works better for us. They already know that locally we feel the changes do not enhance the service. I’d like to know the specific services which have changed that are now causing problems. I can be contacted directly on email@example.com.
With 5 different lines and 13 different stations in the area I represent it’s impossible to be on every train, so please let me know how the next couple of weeks work for you.
9 May 2018
On 20 May a brand new timetable will be introduced across the network. I would have liked to think times are changing for the better but sadly, I don’t think they are. Instead, the timetables show that many trains have been changed and journey times have increased.
On Wednesday 16 May I will be meeting with David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern, who, at a recent meeting, said that there was still room for slight negotiations in the timetable. There is also another timetable change in December, and I will try my best to ensure that residents get the service they deserve. But to do this, I need to know from you exactly where there are problems and where it needs to change.
Please write to me and let me know how the changes affect you at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ensure they are raised directly with Southeastern when I meet with them.
10 April 2018
As many of you might have seen, Southeastern have published their new timetable from 20 May this year. The timetable has come about due to the introduction of Thameslink elsewhere in the county, and unfortunately will have knock-on effect of on the timing of our services.
I’ve had a look and it’s not all good news, particularly on the Maidstone East line where services are reduced again. This is a further blow, as our Thameslink service has already been delayed by a year.
27 February 2018
I know many trains are being delayed and cancelled this evening due to the poor weather, so please be aware of this and make sure you plan your journey with this in mind and get home safely. But even when the weather isn't bad we still have problems with our trains. That is why I met today with Jo Johnson, who is the Rail Minister at the Department for Transport.
I took the opportunity to raise a number of issues we face on the railway locally from performance on the Uckfield Line, the future of the Tonbridge-Redhill Line, train frequency from Tonbridge and of course the delay to the Thameslink service on the Maidstone East line. There’s lots of improvements which are needed and work to do, but Jo understood our concerns at performance levels recently.
7 February 2018
After the appalling service from Southeastern since Christmas, I met with Chris Vinson, Senior External Communications Manager at Southeastern to ask why this was. He assured me that the service would improve, and accepted that it has not been up to scratch over the past few weeks.
11 January 2018
Following GTR’s decision to postpone the introduction of its Thameslink service on the Maidstone East line for a year until December 2019, which would have provided an excellent service from West Malling and Borough Green to the City of London, I met with their management team to discuss their reasons.
It was a useful, if not wholly positive meeting. In short GTR are keen to phase in the introduction of their Thameslink services rather than introduce them all at once. Because they need to preserve existing services on their network, they say this is why we are in the situation where our service has been delayed.
I’ve left GTR in no uncertain terms that they need to do all they can to bring the service forward, if possible. They are contractually obliged to implement this service so it will happen. I hope that, should the introduction of the first round of services go well, our date can be moved forward as December 2019 is far too long a wait for a service which was promised years ago.
22 December 2017
The announcement of further strikes on Southern services after Christmas are, sadly, no surprise at all to those of us who have been affected by this for nearly two years now. However, while the strikes are wrong and will seriously inconvenience passengers, even on the days when a full service is running Southern seems to have no end of problems.
Last week, I wrote to the Rail Minister to share my concerns about the operation of Southern’s parent company, GTR. In light of the news about the strikes I thought you may like to read what I said so I am sharing it here.
5 December 2017
Tonbridge and Hildenborough have some of the best connected train routes in Kent, with millions of passengers using the stations each year. Many of us who use the lines regularly expect to pay for such good connections. However, if prices are to go up then we must expect a better, more reliable service and the pressure is now on Network Rail and Southeastern to deliver a service which is worthy of the money which we are spending to travel by rail.
22 November 2017
I am extremely disappointed to hear that the introduction of frequent Thameslink services serving West Malling and Borough Green stations with the city of London will be significantly delayed. This is a major blow for all commuters on the Maidstone East line. The introduction of this service will open up our economy and provide substantial benefits to our communities, making this an even more attractive place to live.
I’ve asked Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for an urgent explanation and I've written to express my disappointment with neighbouring MP's Tracey Crouch, Helen Grant and Helen Whately. See the letter here. I will be raising this at the highest level of government and am seeking an urgent meeting with the GTR Managing Director, Charles Horton, to ask for answers after this incredibly disappointing news.
Finally, I've written to express my disappointment with neighbouring MP's Tracey Crouch, Helen Grant and Helen Whately.
26 October 2017
I'm still concerned about the parking situation at Edenbridge Town station. More signs have been put up by Southern recently, threatening clamping.
This is having an effect on parking across the town, so I've written to the their Managing Director to ask for a solution. See the letter here.
20 July 2017
Southern Rail will be introducing a new timetable from 2018. While there is good news that the service on the Uckfield Line is proposed to remain, and a new service will link West Malling and Borough Green with London Bridge, I am deeply disappointed with the plans to end the direct service between Tonbridge and London Victoria.
This service, via Leigh, Penshurst and Edenbridge provides a great route to access this part of the network from Tonbridge, without needing to change trains. It is also an important route for schools and access to stations in Surrey and Sussex.
The consultation closes next Thursday, so there are only seven days to save the Tonbridge-Redhill line and it's direct link to London. I fear for the future of train services between Tonbridge and Edenbridge if Southern are able to get away with a “shuttle service” on the line.
Please make sure you respond to the consultation by e-mailing email@example.com by 5pm next Thursday (27 July). Otherwise we may no longer have a service on this line. You can see a copy of my letter, explaining further why this is a bad idea, below.
23 June 2017
Over the past two years Southern Rail have run one of the worst services in the country. They have been late and cancelled trains at short notice. We have all suffered in their over-crowded carriages and erratic timings. It has been a punishing time for those of us who rely on the train to get to work. That’s why I welcome the Gibb report. Having looked at the issues Chris Gibb, an expert of many years standing, has suggested ways to resolve them.
I am pleased that Mr Gibb concluded his report by saying Southern will and can improve their service if the implementations are followed, and that passengers should start seeing an improvement once the industrial action is over. I look forward to them doing just that.
To read the Gibb Report, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/…/publ…/southern-rail-network-gibb-re