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 totally agree with my hon. Friend, and I will be coming to that point later.

Network Rail, of course, is responsible for the tracks and for the problems that we have had with the landslip. I recently met with its route managing director, John Halsall, to discuss the situation, and he understood that it was unacceptable. There is nothing new in that; it is unacceptable.

Network Rail has regularly let down rail users, but it is not just that: Southeastern has been unable to act when contingency plans are required. It never seems to have them, and it does not provide information to our constituents about what is going on. It supposedly put extra trains on to the Erith and Sidcup line during the Barnehurst landslip, but many of us used that service when the Bexleyheath line was out of action, and when we got to Charing Cross or wherever, those trains were cancelled. The extra trains that Southeastern put on did not exist, so it is no good Southeastern saying that it is looking after the customer, because it most certainly is not.

As I have always said, Southeastern’s timetable is a work of fiction at the best of times; it was even more so on that occasion. The overcrowding, the cancellations and the distress caused to constituents who were trying to get home, pick up children from childcare, get to meetings or whatever were appalling.