Crispin Blunt MP has raised the plight of commuters in a parliamentary debate on Southern Rail’s performance today.
Describing the daily commute as “wholly unpredictable” and pointing to the deterioration of services this year, Crispin Blunt called on the Transport Minister responsible for Railways, Claire Perry MP, to make a “meaningful effort to give commuters a decent level of compensation for passengers to take account of the deteriorated services until the London Bridge works are completed in 2018.”
Crispin lambasted the “milking of my constituents as a cash cow for the system”, whereby Redhill, Reigate and district customers are subsidising the rail network. He reminded the Minister that a Redhill rail user pays £1,088 more for an annual season ticket including Zones 1 to 6 than the equivalent season ticket price at Coulsdon South, two stops and six miles north on the same line.
From 26th July, Govia Thameslink will take over the franchise and the Department of Transport will receive the income from fares (the ‘fare box’), so Crispin is calling on the Minister to intervene to deliver fairer fares.
Citing the 2,000 supporters of the petition of the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users Association to extend Zone 6 to stations including Reigate, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords to Gatwick, Crispin called for Zone 6 fares to be introduced at least until the completion of the London Bridge upgrade works in 2018.
Crispin welcomed the Minister’s announcement to review ‘delay repay’ arrangements. Highlighting an estimate that a commuter from Redhill could be saving 15% or more off their season ticket if all claimable journeys were compensated, Crispin explained that it is now technically possible to use Network Rail data to allow passengers to enter their journey details and receive the compensation they are owed, or for compensation to be paid out automatically to those with a contactless card. He asked the Minister if she will consider “requiring train operating companies to tender for the technologies that are available to put this into practice and whether she will introduce phased compensation for journeys delayed more than 2 minutes, as the data and technology now allows?”
The debate, including Crispin’s speech and the Minister’s response, can be viewed at: