Southern must not be allowed an increase ticket prices

I am calling on the Transport Minister to block the proposed ticket price increase for Southern Rail. The service provided is having a disastrous impact on passengers’ lives, with many facing disciplinary action for being late at work, not getting home in time to see their children during the week, or even becoming unemployed. An increase in their ticket prices now would add insult to injury.

The ticket price increase is across the rail service would amount to 1.9 per cent.

For commuters travelling on an annual season ticket this would be an increase of over £32 a year.

Over the summer Southern Rail has cut 341 trains from active service. During peak times as much as 20 per cent of trains have been over 30 minutes late or cancelled.

The text of my letter to the Minister:

Dear Paul,

I am writing to you following the announcement that rail ticket prices are to be raised by 1.9 per cent. I would be grateful if you would consider intervening to prevent any increase in fares for Southern Rail.

Southern’s record under the ownership of Govia Thameslink Railway has been abysmal. Passengers have had to endure years of trains arriving late, being cancelled or so full that they struggle to get on.

For commuters living in my constituency an increase in ticket prices would mean an additional cost of almost £32 per year for those on the most basic rate. For a service that has failed its customers time and again this will be seen as unacceptable to residents living in my constituency.

While I accept that the poor service is not just GTR/Southern’s fault – the RMT must take its share of the blame – this increase in prices will not translate into an improved service for customers. From the vast number of letters that I have received from Southern Rail passengers it has become abundantly clear that most would find alternative forms of transport were they viable. Southern would not see in an increase in profits under a more competitive market, so an increase in fares at this time cannot be justifiable.

Over the summer Southern Rail has slashed the number of operating trains by 341 per day. For passengers this means a decrease in the level of service that they receive. This is on top of extended periods of time when almost a third of all trains have either been late or cancelled. Southern’s poor service has directly resulted in many of its paying customers being disciplined at work, unable to see their children during the week, or even fired. By preventing Southern from profiting from this pay rise we as a government will be sending a clear message to train companies that they cannot treat their customers in such a way. Which is more, we will be telling passengers and their families that the Government is on their side.

I would also like to reiterate my message to you earlier this year that I believe that the best option for the Government would be to take the franchise away from GTR and to immediately place the all Southern trains operating within the M25 in the hands of TfL.

Yours sincerely,