Local MP’s view
Twice a day, MP Henry Smith spends an hour on a Southern train.
He estimates that this year there have been only half a dozen occasions when he has not experienced some kind of issue on his journey to or from his Crawley constituency.
“Passengers have been experiencing chronic delays, and the problems haven’t got any better,” he said.
“There has been an unacceptably poor service from GTR.”
Smith said it was due to “a perfect storm of problems” including delays to major infrastructure projects, capacity issues and rail unions “taking advantage” of the situation.
“Passengers aren’t interested in childish bickering between the sides in this dispute,” he said.
However, he thinks taking away the franchise at this stage would not help: “I do think that with hindsight a better franchise model - maybe smaller franchises - might have been a better way to go forward, so there are lessons to be learned.
“You can take away the franchise in name, but it’s still going to be the same people running the railway.
“It sounds a very appealing solution, but I don’t know whether it would necessarily solve the issues. I think it’s right to move to a 21st century railway, but there is a lot of pain in the interim.”
The official line from the Department for Transport is similar.
In a statement to RAIL, it said: “Our position remains that a change in management would not solve the problems and risks the progress being made already. It would also delay improvements that the operator is bringing in.”