Rail Services: South-east London — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:59 pm on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of David Evennett David Evennett Conservative, Bexleyheath and Crayford 3:59 pm, 6th March 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered rail services in south-east London.

It is a particular pleasure to speak in this debate with you, Sir Henry, my long-term friend and colleague, in the Chair; it is a real privilege to do so.

I am grateful to be able to raise an extremely important issue that affects my borough of Bexley, and north-west Kent—indeed, it is a common problem across south-east London and north-west Kent—and that issue is rail services. I had hoped that I would not need to raise it again, but, unfortunately, improvements have not been forthcoming. It therefore remains a real concern for my constituents and for the constituents of my neighbours, who I am particularly pleased to see in their places: my right hon. Friend Sir Michael Fallon, my hon. Friend Gareth Johnson, Clive Efford, and my neighbour and fellow campaigner for better rail services in Bexley, Teresa Pearce.

My constituents, and residents across the borough of Bexley, are entirely dependent on Southeastern when travelling into central London to commute and to work, or for social or other reasons. However, that operator has a poor reputation in our area. Bexley has endured a terrible rail service, with delays and cancellations occurring regularly. In our area, we have no underground services that could be used as an alternative, so Southeastern has a monopoly, but it is failing its customers on a regular basis. Warm words and apologies will not suffice when action is required, although I apologise that I did not mention Matthew Pennycook; I had thought he was here for the previous debate, but it is great to see him as well, because we all suffer from this appalling rail service.

The 2018 rail passenger survey found that just 78% of commuters were satisfied with their journey—a 2% decrease from the previous year. A mere 39% thought they got value for money, which is 5% below the average for London and the south-east. Only 72% were satisfied with the punctuality and reliability of trains, which represented no improvement from the autumn of the previous year. That shows that Southeastern is not heading in the right direction. Trains are constantly delayed, even if only for a short time. Between 2010-11 and 2017-18, Southeastern achieved its right time measure for only 62% of its main line and metro services. I regularly travel to London from my home in Barnehurst, which is in my constituency, and we recently suffered as a consequence of the Barnehurst landslip. While I appreciate that these things occur and cannot be predicted, that was the fourth landslip along the same cutting in the past 10 years, which is totally unacceptable.