GTR have repeatedly let down Brighton passengers and the situation remains particularly dreadful for the large number of people who pay through the nose to commute from Preston Park. The timetable changes for people using Preston Park station are totally unacceptable and I am very aware that this is not just an implementation problem.
The service operator ie GTR and the Government need to take both responsibility and action. Here’s some of what I have been doing in the last couple of weeks to get them to step up:
- Using an urgent debate about confidence in the Secretary of State for Transport to call for GTR to lose their franchise. I also argued that Ministers should be held to account for passengers in Preston Park losing their jobs, being unable spend time with their sick children in hospital and having their lives wrecked. You can watch a clip or read what I said.
- Meeting with the Rail Minister, soon after the timetable changes, about the problems being created for constituents. I used much of my short meeting time to press the case about Preston Park.
- Initiating and co-ordinating an application from a cross party group of MPs for what’s known as an Urgent Question and which would require the Secretary of State to be summoned to the House of Commons to respond to MPs and constituents’ concerns. Applications are decided by the Speaker of the House of Commons and, frustratingly, this one was not granted.
- Making a mass complaint to GTR on behalf of all the constituents that have let me know about the problems they are facing. This was hand delivered to GTR executives and their totally inadequate response is here: GTR on Preston Park.docx
- Successfully lobbying for extra Southern services to stop at Preston Park. On 20th June, GTR told me:
…following feedback from yourselves and passengers, we have been able to permit 4x extra Southern services to stop at Preston Park, this means there are 7x Southern services into London Victoria in the morning peak.
This is a step in the right direction and I am currently seeking information about times, where the services will originate, whether they will be 12 carriages long. I am also pressing for more services to other terminals and back from both Victoria and London Bridge.
- Applying for a parliamentary debate on services to and from Preston Park. These are allocated on the basis of a lottery system and the next ballot for debates on transport issues will be drawn on 3 July for a debate the week of 9 July. I have entered that lottery and will keep on trying if I'm not successful this time.
- My researcher has been speaking and writing virtually daily to top GTR representatives to repeatedly press them about the major problems and unacceptable situation facing people using Preston Park.
- Tabling written parliamentary questions to ramp up the pressure on Ministers to tackle the wide range of problems facing the service. The current list can be found here.
- Liaising with and advising the Preston Park campaign on presenting a formal petition to Parliament. This includes helping pull together statistical information for a presentation that I will send it to the Minister with a covering letter making it clear that my constituents and I expect a detailed and thorough response to each point made - and demanding urgent action.
- Joining commuters at Preston Park station to call for #FailingGrayling to go and for #SouthernFail to be stripped of their franchise.
- Liaising with other MPs, especially those who are officers, like myself, of the Southern Rail all party parliamentary scrutiny group so they know about the problems and can raise Preston Park in their work.