21 JAN 2015

Helen Grant steps up campaign for commuters

MP secures concessions from Department for Transport and will chair 2nd meeting with Southeastern

Helen Grant, Member of Parliament for Maidstone and the Weald, stepped up her campaign for commuters on Tuesday, convening a second meeting with Southeastern to address concerns about trains serving Maidstone and the Weald.

Mrs Grant will lead a delegation of councillors and commuters in a meeting with senior representatives from the rail company at her office at Maidstone East Station on Friday February 6th.

The MP for Maidstone and the Weald has also secured important concessions from the Department for Transport, following her letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.

The Rail Ministry confirmed there is provision for extra capacity on South Eastern's networks during 2017, and that there will be an extra 6 trains each way during peak times between Maidstone East and London Blackfriars, as well new off-peak services, from early 2018.

The Department for Transport also agreed to heed Mrs Grant's call to roll out a smart ticketing programme across the Southeastern network, with the new infrastructure set to be in place by next year.

This could mean cheaper, simpler season tickets for the increasing number of commuters whose work patterns no longer fit the 9am-5pm, Monday–Friday model.

Speaking about the meeting, Helen said:

"Travellers regularly drop into my office at Maidstone East Station forecourt to report their experiences, generating almost weekly correspondence with Southeastern Trains.

"I met Southeastern's Director of Train Services, Richard Dean, back in October 2014 following the renewal of their franchise.

"I was able to raise a number of concerns and Southeastern promised more staff, improved information systems, an extra service at peak times to and from London Blackfriars, and a new daily late service leaving London after midnight.

"I want to keep up the momentum on my campaign to improve our train services and so I've convened another meeting with senior representatives from Southeastern at my Maidstone East Station office on the afternoon of Friday February 6th to review progress.

"We will also discuss my lobbying of the Department of Transport, who have been listening to our concerns – promising new rolling stock, smart ticketing and more services over the next 3 years.

"I will be inviting a delegation of councillors and commuters to join me. And I now ask constituents to submit concerns (and commendations) about Southeastern's services to me, to feed into our meeting. Email: helen.grant.mp@parliament.uk or call 0207 219 7107 to get in touch"

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