New Rail Timetable - "More Cost for less service" December 9th 2009
North Thanet's MP has this week described as "still more cost for still less service" the new timetable due to be introduced by South Eastern Trains on Monday 13th December.
Speaking at Westminster the MP said:
"I have already received complaints from commuting constituents who, while paying in the region of three and a half thousand pounds a year for season tickets, are now faced with the prospect of having to change their work/life balance for the worse in order to subsidise a so-called "high speed" service from which they gain no benefit.
Travellers from East Kent are already paying year on year fare increases of Retail Price Index plus 3% and are the only passengers on the rail network required to do that under the ridiculous formula agreed by the Department of Transport.
They now find that because of longer, not shorter, journey times on the Kent Coast line caused by more halts and fewer trains to the destinations that they wish to reach, they are having to leave home earlier, wait for connections on cold, wet platforms and arrive later than before.
All of this is being done to facilitate the subsidy of a service to St. Pancras from which most of them gain no benefit whatsoever.
I believe that the senior management of South Eastern Trains and the Department for Transport have failed and continue to fail the travelling public from East Kent. We have been promised improved signalling, faster journey times and a better service. Where is the signalling? Where is the disabled access at local stations? Why do journeys now take longer than they did in the 1920s? Why are commuter trains to central London now overloaded to a level that would not satisfy animal welfare standards?
Those responsible need to recognise that they are presiding over a service that is expensive, slow, uncomfortable and unreliable. I am not remotely surprised that one commuter has already told me that instead of renewing his season ticket he will be buying a motor cycle and travelling by road instead. I expect that more will abandon rail for road as the new timetable kicks in..
At a meeting at the House of Commons this week I have already raised these issues with Passenger Focus, who are in turn taking the matter up with South Eastern and with the Department. I shall be meeting with South Eastern Management very early in the New Year and I am seeking a further meeting with the Secretary of State. The situation that we face at present is nothing short of a disgrace: it was avoidable and predicted and those responsible have simply refused to listen."