Improving Wealden train services

Regular, reliable and affordable rail services are crucial for a huge number of my constituents, whether they are commuting into London for work or travelling locally from Uckfield, Buxted, Crowborough, Eridge and Wadhurst.

Securing improvements to the substandard rail services in Wealden is one of my priorities as your MP - I mentioned it in my maiden speech and have spent a considerable proportion of my first few months in Parliament challenging Network Rail and Southern to increase investment and improve their performance.

My approach is two-fold, focused both on existing services and rail infrastructure. With respect to services, what Southern currently offer is unsatisfactory – passengers have to put up with delays, cancellations, short form trains, overcrowding, strikes and poor communication. I firmly believe that passengers do not get what they deserve or pay for and that Southern have a lot of work to do in order to make sure that the service they provide is up to standard.

As a result, I have taken the following actions:

I also believe strongly that rail services can only improve drastically with increased investment in infrastructure. Structural improvements will relieve pressure on the system as a whole and help achieve improvements to services.

My work in this area has included:

  • Numerous meetings with the Minister for Transport about the structural improvements that would help Wealden
  • Jointly with Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, contributing a submission to a study into the possible reopening of the Uckfield-Lewes line and the proposed Brighton Main Line 2
  • Constant contact with Network Rail regarding the structural improvements that have already been announced, including securing confirmation about the timetable for platform extensions at numerous stations in Wealden
  • Attending a rail summit at Network Rail's headquarters at London Bridge, with the Rail Minister and Southern Executives, at which I received assurances that the rolling stock Southern are refurbishing will be ready for use by July 2016

I am keen to impress upon constituents the importance of reporting poor service that they experience. The watchdog Transport Focus (@TransportFocus) collects complaints that are made, and it is these complaints that help to drive improvements. Please do report your experiences, so that they don't slip under the radar without being addressed.

My work on this issue is ongoing, and this page will be updated as developments occur. I am firmly of the belief that the failure of a number of organisations to provide an adequate level of service is unacceptable, a view I have regularly and consistently expressed to relevant officials. I will continue to do so until there is evidence that services have improved.


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