Greg victory for local rail timetables
19 May 2008
Local MP Gregory Barker claimed victory this week in his long two year campaign to reverse government plans to slash the London train service from smaller local stations.
Greg first raised the alarm in 2006 when the Department of Transport issued new timetable guidance to the new train franchise operator on the London to Hastings line, which would have drastically reduced services to both Charing Cross and Cannon Street at Crowhurst, Robertsbridge, Etchingham and Stonegate from January 2009.
The Battle MP took the fight to the heart of government, first of all raising the issue on the floor of the House of Commons and then securing two successive meetings with Transport ministers in order to lobby them on behalf of hard pressed local commuters and frequent rail passengers.
Following further extensive discussions with franchise holder Southeastern, Greg finally secured a commitment from the new South Eastern managing director Charles Horton to drop the planned changes, following a meeting with local rail chiefs at his House of Commons Office.
Writing to the MP to confirm that the cuts had been dropped Mike Gibson, Public Affairs Manager at Southeastern said: “We are pleased to tell you that the (new) off-peak service specification on the Hastings line (..will be..) largely unchanged from the services we operate today. Via Tonbridge there will be six trains from Charing Cross, two to Hastings as now, two to Tunbridge wells and two to Ashford and beyond. There will be no change on services from Frant to Hastings. With regard to the peak service specification (which obviously includes commuter services to and from London) we are still waiting to hear that the DfT has approved our amendments. However, we are confident that the DfT will agree with us that peak capacity should remain at its current level.”
Commenting on the news back in the constituency at the weekend, Greg Barker said: “This is a great result for local commuters and people who depend on the train. I would like to thank all of the local people who helped support my campaign. Our area depends on a regular train service to London and to see it cut to a bare minimum from smaller local stations would have had a catastrophic impact. I am very grateful to Southeastern for listening to local people and I will certainly continue to make sure that the voice of local rail passengers is heard at the right level.”Top of page