CAROLYN TAKES SEAFORD TRAIN SHAMBLES TO MINISTER
July 31 2016.
Seaford Councillor Carolyn Lambert has written to Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport about the Seaford train 'service':
Dear Chris Grayling
I am writing you an open letter to express my continuing concern about the complete shambles which is Southern Rail. Far from working towards a resolution, Southern appear to have escalated the current dispute by announcing their intention to change the way in which ticket offices are staffed and operated.
As a local councillor, I have no authority or control over the operation of the railways. As Secretary of State for Transport, you do. I would ask you therefore as a matter of urgency to:
1. Remove the franchise from Southern, who have unilaterally reduced our train service by 80 per cent, and take back this route, at least temporarily, into central government control. You managed it with the banks and train services on the East Coast line so perhaps you could now intervene to rescue thousands of ordinary people from daily misery and prevent the damage being done to our local economy, access to education and family life.
2. Listen to the valid concerns of the unions regarding staffing on trains. We need guards. If people have mobility issues, become unwell or feel threatened or intimidated by the behaviour of other passengers, it is vital that there is someone on the train who can help. At unstaffed stations and halts and after hours normally the ONLY means for a person with disabilities to access the train is with the guard’s help.
3. At Seaford, where I am a councillor, we rely on the outstanding service provided by our station staff. They do not just sell tickets. They keep the station looking clean and smart and give us well informed advice about the most cost effective ways to travel – something that is conspicuously not provided by the ticket machines which are often out of order and do not always provide information on the cheapest fares, as research carried out by The Times newspaper has just shown. If the guards are removed from the trains, then we will not even have that option to buy a ticket.
As I listened to the well-informed views of residents who attended the public meeting organised by our MP, Maria Caulfield, it was very clear that there is no incentive at all for Southern to resolve the situation. There is, however, a very big incentive for the government to show some real leadership and to take control of what is less of a service and more of a chance encounter with rolling stock delivered by a company that is interested in profit rather than in providing the service they are contracted to deliver.
I look forward to receiving your response.