Sam calls for planned Southern Rail fare rise to be scrapped.

Sam has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling calling for the planned 1.9% fare rise on Southern Rail services to be scrapped. You can read the original letter here

Letter text:

Dear Chris,

Thank you for your constructive dialogue and support concerning the ongoing problems around Southern Rail. With the RMT still threatening strike action on the service, it remains a challenging time for commuters who heavily depend on the line.  Further to the conversations we have had on this matter, I would like to raise my concerns and call for an exemption in regards to the planned increases for ticket prices on Southern Rail journeys in line with the announced 1.9% rise on regulated fare prices nationally.

As you are aware the service provided by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) over the past few years has been far from the standards expected on today’s British railways. GTR have consistently failed to deliver, leading to misery and frustration from many of my constituents who depend on a reliable service in order to commute to work. As has been documented, this has in some cases led to the dismissal of workers and in many others instances, has seriously degraded quality of life.

With GTR operating a reduced timetable partly due to mismanagement, in particular, with regards to the failure in resolving internal staffing issues, it seems increasingly unfair that passengers should be asked to pay more for what is ultimately a reduced service. Today, many commuters who are planning to attend work are having to re-route journeys or preparing to withstand significant delays. My constituents have made it clear that it would seem unjust to them, many of who are hard-working commuters to be forced to pay up to hundreds of pounds extra per year for a service which is not currently up to the required standards.  Indeed, many of my constituents have called for a drop in ticket prices, which is understandable given the current situation.

I would also like to note that I appreciate the commitments made by GTR to make rapid improvements to the service, whilst I also understand the pressures GTR have faced, from needless RMT strike action, over attempts to modernise the line. However, it still seems somewhat unfair to my constituents that they should be asked to pay more for what is ultimately a reduced and underperforming service.

I would be happy to have further discussions with you on this issue and look forward to continue working together both in improving the service for passengers, including supporting moves towards flexi-ticketing options and in ensuring the RMT will not be allowed to stop the modernisation efforts which are vital for the future of the rail network. Stopping a fare increase would be a good first step in helping local commuters.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Gyimah MP