[Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair] — Southeastern Train Services

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:09 am on 2nd March 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent 10:09 am, 2nd March 2016

I will try to be brief and keep to your advised timing, Mr Evans.

I congratulate Clive Efford on securing the debate and thank him for asking many important questions about infrastructure, compensation and penalties.

Like my hon. Friend Tom Tugendhat, since becoming a Member of Parliament last May I have received a steady flow of complaints about the problems with Southeastern rail services on the line that goes through Maidstone East in particular, and on the lines from Faversham and Headcorn. Since Christmas, however, that flow of complaints has accelerated, reflecting a substantial deceleration in the train services and their reliability. Regular weekly complaints from people have now become daily complaints, as day in, day out, their trains to and from work are delayed, and not just by two or three minutes, which is irritating and causes difficulties for people, but often by half an hour or an hour, with train cancellations, too. Many major events have also completely kyboshed the services for hours.

Other hon. Members have shared the data so I will not go through those again now, but as my hon. Friend said, we are now seeing about one in five trains running late. What the averaging of the data obscures is how often it is the same train that somebody is delayed on, day after day, and how very often they are the peak-time trains. That is not to say that other trains do not need to be on time, but we know that people on peak-time trains are rushing to get to and from work and to get to meetings, appointments and other commitments. The statistics mean that people’s lives are being affected badly by this experience of the train service. They are unable to be as effective at work and are missing meetings. They have to leave earlier and get home later, which is affecting their family life. Parents are unable to get home to put children to bed. All these things that people build their lives around and make decisions about are being affected so seriously by the problems with the train services at the moment.