27 JUL 2017

Southeastern Franchise

Kent Messenger Column - 27-07-17 

Since commencing my work as a Parliamentary Candidate, and then MP for Maidstone and the Weald almost 10 years ago, campaigning to improve commuter train services has constantly been a top priority.

Customer satisfaction with Southeastern has fallen from 84% to 69% over the past 5 years and, with ever increasing train prices, discontent amongst passengers is growing. The impact of a poor train service is vast; It disrupts businesses and other services as people arrive late for work; it puts some individuals' employment at risk through persistent problems with timekeeping; at the other end of the day it causes parents to be late home, creating havoc with childcare and extended family, and adding dreadful stress to young households. In short, people across the South East deserve better.

Southeastern's deal to operate the franchise expires next year and therefore the Government must negotiate a new agreement for the provision of train services in the South East. The requirement for a new franchise represents an opportunity to put forward a shopping basket of needs and improvements for our train services. I am pleased to be one of 12 Kent MPs who have done so by writing to the Rail Minister to call for a major rethink in both the management and organisation of the Southeast franchise. Download our letter here.

We have set out a series of requests including: an increase in rolling stock to reduce overcrowding, an introduction of more flexible ticketing, an improvement in facilities both on trains and at stations and a greater focus on customer service and communication. We have also called upon Network Rail to bring forward plans to improve the railway infrastructure in the South East to help cope with ever increasing demand.

I am hopeful that our proposals will be included in the new franchise agreement and you can be assured that my colleagues and I will continue to monitor this process closely.

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