The rail service is still one of the most common problems that people contact me about, and I’ve worked more on this than any other single issue since the day I was first elected.
Every week I hear deeply upsetting stories from people for whom the terrible rail service is truly making life a misery, and to add insult to injury, in January rail fares rose yet again.
Rail fares have gone up a whopping 32 per cent since 2010, but that’s just part of the story. At the same time the cost of living has also gone up, yet two things have fallen: wage growth and rail performance. Having to pay more and more for a service which delivers less and continues to let many people down feels deeply unfair, and I’ve been campaigning alongside other Labour MPs against the hike in prices.
There have also been concerns locally about the cancellation of a busy commuter train, the 6.37am direct service from Brighton to London Bridge. As a well-used train which is vital for many passengers to get to work on time without the inconvenience of changing trains, it simply isn’t acceptable for this service to be cancelled, and I have written to Southern to urge them to reconsider this damaging decision.
One of the issues behind the poor service is chronic underfunding of our rail infrastructure over many years. £320 million has been invested in our line to London over the last year, thanks to the pressure brought by a group of cross-party MPs I set up with Sir Nicholas Soames MP, but we’ve been very clear that this level of investment must be maintained for another three years if we’re going to deliver the robust service you need and deserve. I am fighting to make sure this happens.
I will be meeting the Transport Secretary again soon, and I will be making your voice heard, and your anger felt. I promise you that I leave no rail boss uncertain about the strength of feeling about this rail disaster. Having worked with anyone dedicated to change, I am confident that money being spent now is laying the foundations for future improvement – but that does not excuse the failure of today, which I will always stand up to on your behalf.
Peter Kyle is the Labour MP for Hove.