Kent MPs unite in call for a better railway service
More homes ‘will make overcrowding worse’
Kent MPs are calling on the government to ensure the next operator of rail services in the south east addresses “dangerously” overcrowded trains and offers better ticket prices.
In an unprecedented move, Conservative MPs have united to make a detailed submission to the government demanding the new franchise from next year gives customers a far better service.
In a detailed six-page letter to rail minister Paul Maynard, 11 local MPs have set out a list of demands covering all aspects of the franchise consultation, reflecting what they say are the huge level of concerns voiced by thousands of constituents in recent months.
The MPs say that the lack of rolling stock means trains are routinely overcrowded and that extensive housing development in the county will only make the situation worse.
The MPs’ submission states: “Passengers are dissatisfied. With insufficient room to stand at times and with some season tickets at more than £6,000, they feel they are not getting value for money.
“It comes as very little surprise that very few customers Helen Grant is among 11 Kent MPs who have signed have confidence in the operator being able to deliver the improvements that are needed. Already the situation is dangerous, with customers frequently witnessing passengers fainting due to overcrowding on carriages.
“For those who are pregnant, elderly or disabled, travelling at peak times is often and variable. This is simply not good enough.” MPs also say there should be faster train services to east Kent, particularly Dover, along with a one-hour service to Thanet and two trains to Deal and Sandwich every hour.
Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant, a longstanding campaigner for better commuter rail services, was one of the signatories.
She said: “Together, several Kent MPs have compiled a comprehensive document for consideration by government in its deliberations over the forthcoming franchise bid for the county.
“It covers not only the train operators, but also issues for Network Rail to address and extends to a demand for Crossrail to be extended to Ebbsfleet, a major strategic step for Kent.”
‘With insufficient room to stand at times and with some season tickets at more than £6,000, they feel they are not getting value for money’