21 NOV 2016

MP Presses Minister for tough action against poor rail services

Government sanctions against Southeastern should include loss of franchise says Helen Grant MP

Helen Grant MP has met with Rail Minister Paul Maynard about the poor service suffered by the people of Maidstone and the Weald under the Southeastern rail franchise.

After last winter's dreadful performance Southeastern admitted that they needed to do better. This week, however, has seen a return to chaos with multiple delays and some cancellations on the Maidstone East to Victoria Line (Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd November).

Helen said 'Many of my constituents question why Southeastern are able to perform so poorly with seemingly little consequence. I have asked the Minister to set out for me the steps Government is taking to ensure that franchisees like Southeastern can be held accountable for their service levels.'

She continued 'I think we should be calling for the introduction of key performance indicators which the franchisee must meet throughout the period of their contract. This should be underpinned by sanctions for failure to deliver, including the forfeiture of the franchise in extreme or persistent breaches. Targets should include punctuality and communication as well as customer satisfaction. I will be pushing for these measures to be a key aspect of future franchise agreements, including Southeastern's which is due to expire in June 2018. I am frankly amazed that terms such as these are not already incorporated into these contracts'.

Helen's meeting followed-up an earlier session between Paul Maynard, Kent MPs and senior figures from Southeastern and Network Rail. MPs pressed Network Rail on the reasons for the failing infrastructure across the network which is causing delays. They also discussed the need for an increase in rolling stock and the plan for the roll out of E-ticketing for season ticket holders some of which is overseen by Network Rail. There was also a call for greater communication with customers to keep them informed about the nature and cause of disruption more effectively.

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Helen's column

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