05 JUL 2018

Thameslink Trains

The rail chaos up and down the country in recent weeks has been appalling. Words of apology and resignations are frankly rather hollow gestures for passengers whose livelihoods depend on a decent service. Rightly, Govia Thameslink's franchise is now under threat, but if that came to pass would their successor make any difference, and what would it mean for Maidstone?

It matters to us because, although Thameslink trains don't currently run from stations in Maidstone and the Weald, we are due to receive a new Maidstone to London City Thameslink service late next year (delayed by almost two years – forgive the pun). If it is run by a good operator this will be a major filip for our County town, providing a 55 minute direct route into the City of London and onward to Cambridge

I have been doing my upmost to ensure that the introduction of this service is delayed no further and I have now received assurances both from the Government and senior rail operators that the trains should start running before the end of 2019.

Given the disastrous way in which the recent timetable changes have been introduced, I am seeking to ensure that when our Thameslink services commence, we are not hit by similar delays and cancellations. I have therefore written to the Secretary of State for Transport to ask him what lessons have been learned well ahead of time.

Of more immediate concern, my mailbag continues to bring persistent complaints about some of the existing services provided by Southeastern. Accordingly I have arranged to meet with their managing director David Statham in the coming weeks. I will be putting your comments and views to him and please do get in touch if you have a specific issues and any helpful suggestions you'd like me to raise too. Email: helen.grant.mp@parliament.uk.

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Helen's column

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