Rail minister visits Three Bridges

Crawley MP Henry Smith and rail minister Paul Maynard (photo submitted). SUS-160728-165119001
Crawley MP Henry Smith and rail minister Paul Maynard (photo submitted). SUS-160728-165119001

The Government’s new rail minister visited Three Bridges today to hear of the current ‘untenable’ situation in Sussex.

Paul Maynard, who was appointed by Theresa May earlier this month, was given a tour of the traincare facility at the station, where new Thameslink trains are tested and drivers are trained.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said he was ‘pleased’ to welcomed the minister to Three Bridges and used the opportunity to update him on the situation with Govia Thameslink Railway.

The rail operator, which runs Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services, is locked in a bitter dispute with the RMT union over the future role of conductors.

Staff shortages have led to months of misery for passengers due to the large number of services either cancelled or delayed, and the RMT, which has already held three days of industrial action between April and June, has called five straight days of strikes starting Monday August 8.

Mr Smith said: “While the £6 billion Thameslink upgrade programme and new 12 carriage trains carrying up to 1,750 people each are welcome, the ongoing disruption is untenable.

“As well as touring the traincare facility at the station, where new Thameslink trains are tested and drivers are trained, this was also an opportunity for me to tell the new rail minister in person about the frustrations experienced by Crawley passengers, myself included, at the hands of the rail operator and the trade unions.

“As I’ve advised Crawley residents who have contacted me on this issue, I’d already been in contact with the new Minister soon after his appointment last week, and welcome his decision to come to Three Bridges on one of his first ministerial visits.

“A month ago I wrote to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, to give them a selection of correspondence from Crawley commuters to be passed to the Committee’s MPs, as part of their Improving the Rail Passenger Experience inquiry.

“The emails I submitted represent our ongoing frustrations with the service provided.

“I’ll continue to work alongside Members of Parliament from all parties in calling for GTR and the unions to act constructively with the Department for Transport to ensure a resolution.”

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