MP joins anger against ‘costly’ train company

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RYE MP Amber Rudd has slammed Southeastern Trains for their ‘disappointing and costly service’.

Amber was among 12 other MP’s, with constituencies served by Southeastern Trains to set out a catalogue of problems when they met with the rail operator and Rail Minister Theresa Villiers last week.

Southeastern, who are widely used by Rye area commuters, came under fire last week when they were accused of massaging performance figures.

It is said they used figures from their high speed Javelin service from Ashford to London to just hit their punctuality target.

Key concerns raised at the meeting, said Amber, were escalating costs without commensurate investment; performance and the independence of performance results.

She said: “All MPs over the Southeastern area spoke at the disappointing and costly service.

“They questioned the Department’s plans to extend the franchise for Southeastern from March 12 for two years.

“The Minister responded that this contract, signed in 2005, called for an automatic extension based on performance targets and would be difficult to break if those targets had been met.”

Amber spoke up on behalf of Rye rail users asking for a careful examination of the targets, and plenty of thought and feed-back when considering a future franchise. She repeated the many complaints passed on to her from local residents.

The Group concluded by asking the Minister to commission an independent report into the performance targets, in order to verify the rail operator’s claims that they had met them. The Minister agreed to take this back to the Secretary of State.

East Sussex County Councillor Jeremy Birch said; “Passengers have been hit on every count with over inflation fare increases, no investment and a slow service. That is the daily experience for many people and will deter people from using the train.”

Southeastern denied the figures had been massaged and said it was standard practice to include high speed results in with theirs.