Michael has demanded the Transport Secretary’s assurance that the new Thameslink fast service will be delivered in full, following fresh fears that the future express service would be delayed “indefinitely”.
The new link – to run from Maidstone East through Swanley and Otford to the City – was set to begin at the end of this year. But the start date was postponed until at least December 2019.
Worse still, the Sevenoaks MP discovered that the tendering documents for the new South East franchise operator asked for a cost analysis of the “indefinite” delay of the service.
He warned that this spelled bad news for families and businesses in his constituency and requested an immediate meeting with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, which was granted.
Following the meeting, Michael said: “The Transport Secretary has committed to investigating why this paragraph was included in the Invitation to Tender. He has also undertaken to provide further reassurance that the fast service will commence in December 2019 and will not be further postponed.”
Michael has personally handed his recommendations for the new South Eastern rail franchise to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP.
His letter, which was written in conjunction with his official response to the public consultation and can be accessed here, argues for a ‘railway system that works for everyone’.
In the nine-page letter, Michael argues: ‘For too long, services on the South Eastern rail network have been unacceptably poor […] Improved capacity, customer service, and payment systems are all welcome steps, but I believe the new arrangements need to go further. Our railways need to start putting passengers first’.
Michael calls for improved capacity, improved compensation arrangements, and improved connectivity on South Eastern trains, and outlines numerous arguments for the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.
Michael said: ‘I have responded to the public consultation to make the case for passengers in Sevenoaks and Swanley. Discussions on the new rail franchise provide a great opportunity to push for better services on our railways and a better deal for passengers: more space, improved compensation arrangements, and the extension of the Oyster network. I encourage constituents to visit the public consultation site and make sure their views are heard before the consultation closes on 23 May’.
The public consultation form can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604904/south-eastern-rail-franchise-public-consultation.pdf