Kent MPs unite in call for a bet­ter rail­way ser­vice

More homes ‘will make over­crowd­ing worse’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

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’

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