Sussex MPs ready to quiz rail operator at meeting

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West Sussex MPs have piled on the pressure ahead of a meeting on Monday (January 18) between Southern Railway and around 20 MPs representing many thousands of people who use the service.

As reported by this paper in December, Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert said passengers had ‘reached the end of their tether’ with rail companies Southern - which runs services between Sussex and Portsmouth and on to the west of England - and Thameslink.

He said MPs were ‘unwilling to hear any more excuses or false promises that the service will get better’.

Southern, Thameslink and Network Rail agreed to a performance improvement plan several months ago after MPs met the Government’s rail minister to demand action.

Performance had been improving under the plan but the latest updates revealed a marked deterioration, with punctuality significantly worse than when the plan started.

Rail minister Claire Perry told Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames, who added his concerns and those of his constituents, that she would convene a summit with the rail companies early in the New Year to discuss the concerns of local MPs and to demand improvements.

That meeting is due to take place on Monday.

Last month Lewes MP Maria Caulfield suggested on Twitter it was ‘almost quicker to fly to the space station by rocket than get home to Lewes by train’.

Meanwhile Horsham MP Jeremy Quin commented in December that it had been ‘dreadful week on the railways’ and added: “It is deeply disappointing that notwithstanding heavy investment we continue to have infrastructure problems.”

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