London Bridge Station (Redevelopment)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:15 am on 27th January 2015.

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Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 11:15 am, 27th January 2015

If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I want to make this point, because it is important. The hon. Member for Lewisham East will be aware that, until recently, fares on this franchise were rather inflation busting and measures of up to RPI plus 3 plus flex were permitted. That has been scrapped, so now passengers on this franchise, like passengers right across the country, are benefiting from this Government’s decision to freeze fares in real terms—RPI plus zero for last year and this year—and to scrap the flex, which meant that additional fares could also go up by 2%.

[Interruption.]

The hon. Lady says that that is not enough, but it was a bold decision to take, particularly at a time when family budgets are stretched.

I will make a quick comment, if the hon. Member for Lewisham West and Penge will allow me, about Southern, because I know it is important for his constituency. Southern’s performance currently is inexcusable, and I will make that point, as I expect other hon. Members to make it, at the performance summit we are holding next week. Network Rail’s infrastructure problems are causing many of the difficulties with the timetable along the line. I expect Network Rail and Southern to sort that out as soon as possible.

Let me make a couple of general points in conclusion. We have to learn lessons, because we are continuing to do this work at London Bridge until 2018. It is vital that whatever went wrong after Christmas—not enough communication and not enough modelling of the platform flows—is addressed, because we will be asking a lot from passengers. Let me put on the record my thanks to passengers for their tolerance at a time of great disruption. We are very aware that we are disrupting people’s lives, but the prize is a much better service and a station that is much more fit for purpose.

I am grateful to the hon. Members in the Chamber and others across the House for ensuring that all parties involved in the reinvention of London Bridge remain really aware of passenger concerns. My officials are in daily contact with Southeastern and Southern. We are all focused on the need to minimise inconvenience and maximise communication to passengers. There are constraints on what we can do, and there are years of work ahead, but I am determined that the unprecedented investment that we are making right across the country will be seen and felt as benefits for passengers as soon as possible.