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

That would show good faith to the public, who are suffering from that situation now, would it not? I totally agree with the hon. Lady, and I hope that a 15-minute Delay Repay policy will motivate whoever holds the new franchise to operate a better service.

As the Minister will know, we have been blighted by endless signal failures at Lewisham, which again have caused misery, delays and cancellations. Sometimes, once those signals start to go wrong, they go wrong all through the day—it is unbelievable. We have already suffered from the London Bridge development, which caused considerable distress and disappointment. I understand from Network Rail that it is going to fix the signalling problems at Lewisham; it is going to start this Easter and finish next Easter, in 12 months’ time. Do we have to continue to suffer over the next year? Frankly, that is not acceptable.

There is also the problem of Crossrail. We were hopeful that Crossrail from Abbey Wood would give us an alternative and be part of what we need, but, regrettably, that has been delayed. It should have happened last December, but we do not yet have a date for when it is expected to be operational. That is a huge disappointment for our constituents. I know that it is not the Minister’s responsibility, but that of Transport for London and the London Mayor, but he should put more pressure on to get a date, at least, for when it will start. We have no date.

The other thing I want to raise is something we have been campaigning for. Originally, Crossrail was not going to stop at Abbey Wood, but would go to Ebbsfleet, and we are really keen to see that happen. We have had meetings with the Secretary of State. He came down, along with the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead and me, to have a look at what could be done and to have discussions with the council. An extension there would be so welcome. Other parts of the capital have Crossrail going out much further. We, who do not have an underground and have a poor rail service, have been put on the back-burner.