This week during a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Rail, together with colleagues, the Member of Parliament for Eastleigh, Mims Davies, was updated on how Southern Rail intend to improve journeys for rail users across the South and South East.
Members present were informed that some 161 new drivers have been brought into the operation since 2015, with another 118 currently in training. One of the short term issues being faced by the franchise holder currently is the use of diesel trains, and lack of engineers to repair these when necessary. To date some 30 additional engineers have been recruited to try and remedy this issue.
Members were also reassured that KeyGo – a pay as you go ‘smart card’ – is soon to be extended to the rest of the Southern network, meanwhile 50,000 claims have now been completed totalling some £12.6million, with 1500 claims currently awaiting assessment.
During the most recent strike action, held on the 8th April, 95% of services ran as usual, and all parties continue to work towards having a second person on the train, with the most immediate concern being to help disabled passengers using the service. Southern made a commitment to having on-board supervisors whenever and wherever possible, and that these staff are here to stay.
Afterwards Mims said:
“I was reassured to hear of the progress that is being made on this issue, however, still raised concerns over the importance of the operator’s ability to cope with large events such as the London Marathon which I took part in last weekend. This event is just one of many that attracts large numbers of people from across the country and relies upon a regular, reliable service.”
“The same can be said for those that rely on Southern to take them into the hub that is Southampton and onwards to Gatwick plus linked services and facilities across the south coast. Southern's unreliability in recent months, and frankly years, has led to too many choosing to use their car on the M27 to work, rather than take the train. This can’t continue to impact our motorway purely due to poor service of a train operator.”
“The unacceptable level of service provided to rail users has had an impact on productivity, led to people losing their jobs, be absent for the births of their children, missing vital hospital treatment as well as caused chaos for those travelling to events across the South and South East. I made it absolutely clear, along with other MPs, that only improvements and investment into the service was acceptable and that any further failings or excuses simply will not be tolerated.”