Helen Grant MP held talks with Southeastern Managing Director David Statham this week in order to press for much needed improvements to Maidstone and the Weald's rail services and to raise once again the huge groundswell of concern in the County Town about delays to the introduction and possible withdrawal of vital services.
In a wide ranging meeting, Helen raised with Mr Statham a number of different concerns which had been brought to her attention by constituents. Most notably the need for improved Wi-Fi access across the Southeastern network and the continued desire for more flexible ticketing in order to make fares more reflective of modern working practices. She also pressed the case for urgent improvements to the timetables following the inconvenience caused by the unpopular adjustments earlier this year.
Pleasingly, Mr Statham explained that Wi-Fi has now been rolled out across all 392 of Southeastern's train units. He was also able to provide an update on a nationwide piece of work which has the aim of introducing fairer and more flexible fares. Furthermore, Mr Statham confirmed that a review of the timetable changes has taken place and that it is hoped that improvements will be introduced from next Spring.
The meeting also provided a crucial opportunity for Helen to again stress the importance of the smooth introduction of the Maidstone East City Service next year and of preserving the High Speed service from Maidstone West.
Speaking after the meeting Helen said, 'I was very pleased to learn more about the roll out of Wi-Fi across the network and I also understand that Southeastern are at an advanced stage of discussions to improve 'infotainment' on-board trains so I would advise constituents to watch this space!
I am further encouraged by plans to introduce greater flexibility of season tickets and to deliver improvements to the timetables, but I will be continuing to monitor these plans very closely to ensure they come to fruition as seamlessly and as quickly as possible.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to once again make the case for the smooth introduction of the City Thameslink service from Maidstone East and of the preservation of our peak time, high speed services from Maidstone West. Maidstone is the County Town of Kent and deserves the rail services to reflect that; taken together the preservation of the high speed and the introduction of the City service would be game changers for commuters and for our businesses here in Maidstone and I make no apology for continuing to vociferously and robustly make the case. I am in the final stages of arranging for a member of the Government to visit Maidstone in the coming week to engage with commuters and local businesses to allow us to keep up this campaign.'
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