As angry passengers prepare to protest in Brighton about disrupted train travel on Southern, Eastbourne’s MP is vowing to ramp up pressure in Parliament.
Caroline Ansell is hitting out at Govia Thameslink Rail, which runs the operator. In a statement she’s said, “This continuing disruption caused by cancelled trains and late services is completely unacceptable and I share the anger of constituents who have contacted me in large numbers to complain.
“The anger will be conveyed to the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin tomorrow (15 June) when I will meet with him and urge him to do all he can to improve the situation.
“Matters are simply getting out of hand and it’s time that Govia Thameslink started offering refunds to passengers for the appalling levels of service.
“Their job is to run regular trains on time and they are failing to do that on far too many occasions.
“This is hitting the ability of commuters to get to London and is causing disruption to business and family life because people are simply not where they want to be.
“I have already said that Govia should delay changes to working practices while there are issues with engineering works and the redevelopment of London Bridge Station.
“But I’m also told by Govia that the new working arrangements will not lead to any employee receiving less pay. It doesn’t seem possible to get an accurate picture of staff sickness rates due to conflicting accounts, but the operator says the rate pre the April strike was 23 conductors per day and after 45.
“This is a huge rise that no organisation could cope with, particularly alongside the perfect storm of other issues, so I will be seeking a meeting with the RMT union to make my feelings known and state that all this dispute is doing is harming passengers.
"I know the union met with Govia yesterday and I put it to the RMT in the strongest possible terms that they help resolve this present misery and help their members back to work.
“It’s also the same message to Govia because both parties should be working hard to reach an agreement.
“I understand that there will be a clamour for Govia to be stripped of its franchise, but the fact remains that there is no-one to step in a run these services without the spectre of even more disruption.
“For now, I want Govia and the RMT to sort this mess out and I urge everyone to get on with it.”
GTR and the RMT met with ACAS yesterday about the ongoing dispute. A GTR spokesperson said, “We responded to the points raised by the Union, and they have taken our responses back to their executive for consideration. We await their response, and hope that they will move this forward and help us develop the On-Board Supervisor role."