Sir Henry Bellingham MP said he had received a very large number of complaints from constituents regarding the recent disarray in our rail service.
Henry went on to say: “I have been doing all I can and will continue to do all I can to ensure extra capacity and a smoother service. For example, in October last year I met with the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss how the Queen Adelaide level crossing bottleneck can be resolved. Furthermore, alongside my colleague the Rt. Hon Elizabeth Truss MP we hosted a recent rail summit at the beginning of May this year, to give Network Rail the opportunity to review the best way to improve the network for passengers and the freight industry.”
“Obviously, it is absolutely essential our local railways are upgraded as improvements at Ely North would enable more frequent services to run on the King’s Lynn to London and Norwich to Cambridge lines, bringing an expected £1billion annual boost to the region’s economy. I am of course disappointed that the eight carriage trains we were promised this year will now not be on the network until 2019 at the earliest; as the services between King’s Lynn and London leave much to be desired with overcrowding, cancellations and trains running late.”
“For myself and Elizabeth Truss the eight carriage trains are absolutely vital in terms of ensuring that the overcrowding problem is sorted out, I am also pursuing both GTR and National Rail very hard to find a way of resolving the issue of larger trains not being fully covered by some the shorter platforms. I have made it very clear that selective is surely the sensible way forward.”
Commenting on the current poor service resulting from the new timetable Henry went on to say: “the service that has recently been provided by GTR has been simply unacceptable and their inability to implement the new timetable has raised serious concerns over their ability to run the network. With regards to GTR’s contract the Rt. Hon Chris Grayling MP, The Secretary of State for Transport, has commissioned an independent inquiry, by Stephen Glaister of the Office of Rail and Road, to determine why the rail network was unable to cope with the timetable change and to ensure it never happens again. In addition to this the Secretary of State has met with the owners of the GTR franchise and demanded that they improve their operational response, and increase their managerial capacity. Furthermore, alongside the independent inquiry the Secretary of State has commissioned a formal review into GTR to establish whether it has met and continues to meet its contractual obligations. The conclusion of this review will obviously determine GTR’s future.”
“Moreover, I have personally written to Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for the Department for Transport, to not only raise my constituents concerns but to ensure both he and the Secretary of State are aware of the fact that the service being provided is not up to the standard we expect.”
“GTR are now, and quite rightly so, working to improve their service, below I have included information I have received from GTR on how they intend to improve the current poor standards they have been delivering.”
• Phase 1 | 24 June – Mid-July
GTR have stated: “Our first step is to give passengers a more predictable service. In the short term, the only way to do this is to regularise the services being cancelled and amend online journey planners accordingly. Until now, these have needed to be updated on a weekly basis but from Monday 25 June passengers will be able to plan their weekday journeys in advance for the coming three weeks.”
“We will prioritise peak trains and school trains, giving more certainty for passengers to plan their journeys to and from work and school. Regularising the service allows GTR to increase the amount of driver training on routes they need to drive and gives passengers a service they can plan around again. We are working hard to reduce the number of ad hoc cancellations which have been so frustrating and reduce service gaps during this time. In this period some short form trains may run while we move the fleet to the correct positions. We will continue to support the service gaps with buses and taxis.”
• Phase 2 | From Mid-July
“As a second and most important step, from mid-July, GTR aims to implement an interim timetable which will give passengers a more dependable service. This will be based on the targeted May 2018 timetable, but with fewer services primarily in the off peak period to further enable us to augment the driver route knowledge training programme.
From this timetable, we will aim to gradually introduce more services to complete the intended May 2018 timetable; but we will only do so when we are certain it can deliver the passenger benefits of extra rail capacity, reliability and journey options that it needs to.”
Furthermore, on the matter of a refund if your train has delayed by more than 15 minutes you can claim money back on your ticket through GTR’s Delay Repay scheme, via the following link: