22 OCT 2014

Helen meets South Eastern to ensure train services for Maidstone are on track

Helen Grant met with South Eastern trains on Wednesday October 22nd to ensure Maidstone and the Weald train services were on track, following the renewal of the company's franchise on October 12th.

Mrs Grant was able to ask Director of Train Services, Richard Dean (pictured left), about a range of issues affecting her Maidstone and the Weald constituents; seeking assurances on resilience preparation for the coming winter, more frequent services at peak times, later services coming back from London and raising concerns about season ticket prices.

The MP for Maidstone and the Weald will be writing to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin and Rail Minister Claire Perry to press the case for Government support for new rolling stock for South Eastern which could see an extra 7,000 seats on the Maidstone line, in new air-conditioned 8-coach trains.

Helen will also be exploring the option of flexible ticketing under a smart card scheme, similar to Oyster, which could make train fares simpler and potentially cheaper; with the possibility of tickets geared to part time or shift workers.

Thanks to the Chancellor's announcement that a freeze on regulated rail fare rises will be extended for a further year into 2015, fare rises will be limited to the rate of inflation this coming January.

Speaking after the meeting, Helen said:

"Thousands of people across the constituency rely on South Eastern's train services to make a living, so it is important for me as the local MP to hold them to account as their franchise is renewed.

"After a positive meeting, I am encouraged that concerns of constituents are being listened to.

"South Eastern told me there will be 100 new customer assistants at stations to provide the most up to date information to commuters.

"They will be adding an extra service at peak time to and from London Blackfriars, good news for City workers; and as of January, a later service leaving London after midnight will take constituents home.

"After my Flood Forum on October 10th, I also sought assurances that South Eastern are prepared for the possibility of further extreme weather events this winter. They have been working with Network Rail implementing a tree felling and drainage programme to reduce the risk of landslips in wet weather.

"All their trains are also now equipped in the event of a power failure with bottled water, blankets and light sticks.

"Conductor rail heating, motorised snow ploughs, de-icers fitted to main line trains and an agreement with Kent County Council to clear station approach roads, are all in place should the snow of previous years return.

"Looking forward I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin and Rail Minister Claire Perry to seek Government support for new rolling stock for South Eastern which could see an extra 7,000 seats on the Maidstone line in new 8-coach air-conditioned trains.

"I will also be exploring the option of flexible ticketing under a smart-card scheme which might mean cheaper, simpler fares for Maidstone and the Weald commuters" 

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