Following the continued poor performance of Southern Rail’s operation of the Uckfield line, the MP for Wealden has raised the concerns with the Rail Minister.
Southern’s parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) blame the reliability of the new diesel trains they acquired.
Ms Ghani said:
The only thing you can depend on Southern for is an unreliable and temperamental service. My constituents deserve better than the frequent cancellations and poor communication, and there has been no sign of improvements in recent months.
Moreover, Southern deem it acceptable to undermine the service on the Uckfield Line to meet their timetable elsewhere. This is unacceptable.
I have raised this with the Rail Minister, along with the concerns of the thousands of constituents who have contacted me about Southern, and intend to meet with him and GTR to push for a reliable and acceptable service.
It is not ok that in the 21st century my constituents are unable to rely on the timetables published by Southern. I will continue to push hard to ensure that Southern provide a service fit for the needs of Wealden. Starting 2018 with a poor service and impending strike action once again explains why the Uckfield line is often branded the ‘misery line’.
In response to Nus Ghani’s comments, a spokesperson for GTR said:
We would like to apologise to passengers. The Uckfield branch line, unlike almost all the rest of our network, is not electrified and we have only a limited fleet of diesel trains which has caused trains to run with fewer carriages if one fails while others are undergoing maintenance.
The diesel trains we acquired to provide extra capacity required a complete overhaul to make them compatible with our network but despite substantial work by our engineering team have proven less reliable than our existing diesel trains. We are working hard to improve this by recruiting more engineers and training more of our current engineering team to maintain this fleet. We have carried out additional maintenance and brought in specialist technical support from our suppliers.
Paul Maynard has confirmed that he will be convening a meeting with Govia Thameslink Railway, at Nus’ request, and has invited Nus to attend.
Ms Ghani added:
I am pleased that the Minister has agreed to convene a meeting with GTR to secure an explanation of the poor service, woeful management and lack of staffing and planning on a service which has deteriorated. The future of the Uckfield line is dependent on electrification and I will continue to campaign for the full implementation of the Gibb report recommendations.