Autumn statement ‘spectacular failure’ for Brighton rail passengers

Caroline Lucas SUS-161125-083727001
Caroline Lucas SUS-161125-083727001

Brighton and Hove rail passengers have been ‘failed’ by the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, according to Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Commuters have faced huge disruption on Southern services throughout 2016 due to both staff shortages during an industrial dispute between the RMT union and Govia Thameslink Railway, and rail infrastructure issues.

A second Brighton Mainline, also known as BML2 running between the city and London through Uckfield, has been promoted as a way of increasing rail capacity in the South East. Earlier this month,

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “I’m aware we have a report that’s sat on the desk for much too long, and I intend to make sure it does not sit on the desk for very much longer.”

This raised expectations that there would be an announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement, but campaigners’ hopes were dashed today. Afterwards,

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “The Chancellor’s decision not to invest in the Brighton Mainline, and to offer no further news on BML2, is a spectacular failure. Passengers are crying out for the Government to step in and ease their misery – yet Philip Hammond offers nothing to fix the failures on our railways.

“The rest of the Autumn Statement offers further misery for people in Brighton and Hove. While the ban on letting agents fees is a step forward, it was the sole piece of good news. Clearly Philip Hammond listened to campaigners on letting agents but he has sadly continued his Government’s failure to build enough social housing.

“The Chancellor cannot sugar coat the fact that this set of announcements will continue tax cuts for high earners and corporations while utterly failing to protect either our NHS or local services.

“A Government with a genuinely bold vision could have used this Autumn statement to ensure that the economy is future facing on everything from the risks of a potential Brexit to the threats posed by climate change and growing inequality. Instead we have a backwards looking budget that fails to wage war on poverty and fails to grasp the realities of an uncertain world and the limited resources in it.”