Rail Fares and services - MP meets South Eastern Trains (December 6th 2007)
North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has this (Wednesday) morning met with Charles Horton of South Eastern trains to discuss proposed fare increases faced by East Kent commuters and proposed reductions in services to Victoria and Cannon Street stations.
Speaking following the meeting the MP said:
"I would describe the talks as constructive. Clearly the management of Southeast Trains are not going to immediately announce a reversal of their proposal but I have an undertaking that the issues that I have raised will be considered and reviewed.
I am particularly concerned to note that proposed timetable changes will adversely affect those many people from East Kent travelling to work in the City and in Whitehall. The necessity to travel to St. Pancras and then onward by underground instead of, as at present, on foot will add to both time and cost and that is unacceptable.
I have raised with Mr. Horton the fare increases facing travellers fro Herne Bay and Thanet. These increases are in excess of the "RPI plus 3 per cent" formula and potentially penalise unfairly one of the most socially disadvantaged areas of the South East. Nobody likes fare increases at all but to load the dice against one group of passengers is unjust.
I have also raised the issue of fast-link from Thanet via Canterbury and Ashford to London. This service is vital to the future development of Manston Airport and if we are to achieve the long-promised reduction in the journey times then it is essential that High Speed Trains are not compelled to stop at more than a minimum number of stations en route.
Finally I have raised issues relating to the maintenance and refurbishment of Margate, Westgate, Birchington and Herne Bay stations. As a result of these discussions I shall now see a further meeting with Network Rail who bear much of the responsibility for the infrastructure of the railway.
I shall now write to the transport Minister to reinforce the need for a review of the potential impact of the proposed service changes and to stress the very real concerns that have been expressed to me as the Member of Parliament representing a significant area of East Kent."