Rail franchises operators & contracts

06.03.19

MP slams ‘appalling’ Southeastern rail delays amid reports that passengers were forced to ‘pay double’

A Conservative MP has slammed “appalling” Southeastern rail services ahead of talks in Parliament following reports that the train operator faces a £100m legal claim over “making passengers pay double.”

Sir David Evennett said there was a “desperate need to raise the same issues again in Parliament” after rail services in south-east London and north-west Kent have caused “misery,” and hit out at “poor excuses” and the delays to Crossrail.

Last week, the Evening Standard revealed that the rail companies behind the Southeastern and South Western networks have allegedly overcharged millions of customers who bought tickets for travel beyond zones covered by Travelcards.

A claim had been lodged with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, arguing that passengers should have been offered the chance to pay boundary fares for the gap between the outer limit of their Travelcard and their final destination.

These fares were not prompted or available to buy online, over the phone, or at platform machines, which left passengers with “little option” other than to pay twice, according to Justin Guttmann, the former London Underground employee who is leading the claim.

This comes amidst signalling issues which have blighted Lewisham and are exacerbating the delays, cancellations, and “terrible rail service” – which have become the norm.

MP David Evennett said his constituency is entirely dependent on Southeastern Rail in order to travel to London and that whilst proposals for a new franchise agreement gave some real positives, no decision has yet been made and “just like the train services, we have seen delay after delay.”

“The new franchise needs to be decided urgently by the Department for Transport.” 

Evennett said Southeastern Rail’s inability to act, have contingency plans in place, or provide simple information to customers is “quite frankly appalling.”

In a statement also criticising TfL and Sadiq Khan over Crossrail, the MP said he recognised that many of the delays were the fault of Network Rail, but that the train operator often uses this as an excuse for poor service.

Evennett will lead a debate in Parliament today regarding the state of the area’s rail services, but said: “I have had countless meetings, discussions and written communications with the secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, to highlight the issues with the rail service across South East London, but we have not yet seen any progress despite continued increases in costs of fares and an increase in frustration of railway users.”

Guttmann added: “Passengers in London already pay a lot of money for trains that are often delayed or not even running.

“We are launching this legal action to ensure that the money that South Western and Southeastern have made from this is returned to those train users.”

“Millions of rail passengers could be eligible for compensation. Let’s put this right and stop train companies taking passengers for a ride.”

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