Update on Southern Rail and local rail services

The performance of Southern Rail continues to be extremely disappointing. Fining passengers forced to stand in first class – as reported in the Surrey Mirror – is absolutely the wrong priority when it is clear that this is a symptom of a lack of capacity on peak services.

Southern needs to work much harder to rebuild trust with commuters who feel badly let down over the last few months. That means giving confidence in the progress of its rail improvement plan through clear statistics in its published updates.

It is not good enough to say that the service is improving on the basis of a headline statistic of the percentage of train services less than 5 minutes late at their final destination. This gives no sense of the network’s performance at rush hour, the delay or cancellation of individual trains, or which services present the most persistent problems. The figures also need to be set alongside analysis of capacity – replacing two six-carriage trains joined at London Bridge with a single train of ten carriages may reduce the risk of delay, but is of little comfort to commuters if they are unable to board.

I have already raised the issue of compensation with Southern Rail and the Department for Transport. I believe this is absolutely justified, and I will continue to press for progress in this area.