South-eastern Ė Kent MPs meet Transport Minister
Twelve of Kent`s MP`s have this (Tuesday, 1st February) met with the Transport Minister to express constituents` anger at the continuing failure of South-eastern trains to provide value for money or a satisfactory service. Kent`s remaining MP`s, attending Standing and Select committee hearings, sent messages of apology and support.
Amongst the issues raised were the unacceptable level of fare increases imposed in the New Year, the appalling performance of South-eastern`s services during this winter period to date, the manner in which figures appear to have been calculated to deny commuting travellers compensation for poor performance and the whole issue of any extension to or renewal of Southeaster`s franchise.
Following the meeting Roger Gale (North Thanet) said:
When an entire County`s Members of Parliament speak with one voice to give vent to the very real anger and sense of frustration felt by the people that they represent a Minister is likely to pay heed.
It is an unfortunate fact that Theresa Villiers, as the Minister of State, is saddled with a franchise contract and the terms and conditions of the Continuation Review that it contains, that was entered into by the previous Government. Nevertheless, it is essential that the Continuation Review is rigorous and that the figures upon which it is based are crawled over with a fine toothcomb: anything less is very likely to end up under judicial review.
The Minister of State has therefore, at our request, agreed to ask the Secretary of State to seek of the Treasury the necessary funding to submit the performance data submitted by South-eastern to wholly independent scrutiny. Put quite simply, there would not appear to be a single Kent Member of Parliament who is still prepared to take the Train Operator or its figures at face value.
We remain adamant that we do not wish to see the South-eastern franchise extended by even the two years provided for in the agreement and we most certainly do not wish to see the franchise re-awarded to a company that those that we represent believe has failed themĒ.