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

The hon. Lady makes a good point. Our area is ripe for further development, which is what we want. We want jobs, houses and opportunities, but we cannot have those without infrastructure. If the infrastructure cannot cope with that development, more problems are going to occur.

The Minister may be able to tell us different, but I believe no other rail network has had as many problems as ours. The excuses for delays and cancellations beggar belief: bad weather, leaves on the line, snow, low-level sunshine, overrunning road engineering works, and even drivers not turning up at Dartford because their taxi from Gravesend did not arrive on time. Southeastern could not run the train from Dartford because the driver did not turn up—it is really appalling. There have been breakdowns en route and doors that will not close—the list goes on and on. In my view, older rolling stock is the cause of some of these issues, not maintenance.

Many of my constituents have been appallingly disappointed that no decision has been made about the new franchise, as was mentioned earlier. That ought to have been in place by now, but we have just extended the existing franchise, which is one of the worst possible options that we could have chosen. If the operator cannot invest for the future, it is not going to do anything.