Many residents in my constituency are heavily reliant on local rail services to get to work.
The service across all lines has been unacceptable for some time, but on Monday 11th July Southern Railway implemented an emergency timetable which resulted in the cancellation of 341 services across their network.
I had last met with the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, as well as Southern’s chief executive, Charles Horton, on 22nd June 2016, when neither raised the possibility of the introduction of an emergency timetable.
At the meeting I was told that steps were being taken to address Southern’s performance, and that residents would begin to see an improvement in the reliability of Southern rail services over a period of weeks. Clearly this was not true.
The services cancelled are heavily concentrated on South London, including the vast majority of rush hour services running from North Dulwich, East Dulwich, Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Gipsy Hill and Crystal Palace as well as the withdrawal of all services to London Bridge from West Norwood and Tulse Hill.
This is effectively the collapse of commuter rail services in my constituency and across much of Southwark, and coming on top of more than eighteen months of appalling service levels, cancelled trains, short trains and overcrowding as a consequence of the earlier phases of the London Bridge works, it is completely unacceptable.
I am calling on the government, as a matter of urgency, to remove the franchise from Southern and for the Department of Transport to take over the running of the service directly, while arrangements are put in place to transfer the services to Transport for London.
Given the unacceptably disproportionate focus of the cuts to services in South London I am pressing for the emergency timetable to be further revised immediately to distribute its impacts more fairly across the wider network, and for additional buses to be provided to relieve overcrowding.
Southern has demonstrated that it is not competent to run the rail network in South London, and the government must now recognise this and take urgent action to address it.