South Western Railway

Part of Petition - Freewheelers' Use of Bus Lanes – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 1st October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Independent, Romsey and Southampton North 4:48 pm, 1st October 2019

I do agree with the hon. Gentleman, who has highlighted one of the many problems, which is the lack of information. We all understand that problems on the network can cause trains to be delayed, but in the 21st century providing information in advance can enable passengers to work out a different route. Sometimes such information is simply not forthcoming. I well recall being at Southampton Airport Parkway station and buying a ticket for a train that the member of staff knew had already been cancelled, and I was then expected to take a convoluted route to get to Waterloo. Had he told me at the point of purchase, I could have simply got back in my car and driven to this place.

I want to start by giving credit where credit is due. Last Thursday, I returned from this place to Southampton on a train which ran ahead of time. That was a novelty. I wonder if it was a coincidence that it occurred a day after Mr Speaker granted this debate. Perhaps one should be granted every week and Mr Speaker has magical qualities of which we were previously unaware. It helped to strike up many a happy conversation among travellers when we stopped at Woking for a full five minutes, so far ahead of schedule was the train running. Oh, to have that driver again: truly his marvellous skills could be deployed on many a route across the network.

I would also like to give credit to the train staff who are in the main unfailingly polite and even jolly, sometimes in the face of extreme adversity, lack of information— as Jim Shannon mentioned—and understandably bad-tempered passengers. But that is where the compliments cease.

I do not want my hon. Friend the Minister to think that I have come here just to whinge. I have not. I am seeking the opportunity to air the legitimate grievances of my constituents, but also to offer some constructive suggestions as to how the improvements identified as part of the Holden review might be encouraged in some instances, in order to improve the passenger experience.