MPs grill rail companies over delays and cancellations after driver shortage

MBTC-26-11-12- Nadine Dorries MP. Westoning. ENGPNL00120121126173647
MBTC-26-11-12- Nadine Dorries MP. Westoning. ENGPNL00120121126173647

Rail companies faced a tough grilling from Bedfordshire MPs as commuters become increasingly frustrated with delayed or cancelled services.

Bedford and Kempston MP Richard Fuller and Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries held talks with Govia Thameslink and Network Rail on Tuesday, January 6, to discuss the poor standard of service to London.

Since the Thameslink franchise was handed to Govia in September, the line has been hit by delays and cancellations, which have been blamed on a lack of drivers, some of whom have been sent on training courses to navigate diversions as London Bridge is renovated.

Mr Fuller said: “Late or cancelled trains have a serious knock-on effect for commuters who might be late for work three or four times a month. And to add insult to injury, fares have gone up.

“The rail companies said they are recruiting more drivers but I am not convinced this will be a quick fix.”

The MPs have asked Govia and Network Rail to provide weekly performance reports and scheduled a meeting to monitor the companies’ progress.

Mr Fuller said: “I remain sceptical this will be resolved soon. The companies have a lot to prove.”

Ms Dorries expressed “stark anger” on behalf of passengers travelling from Flitwick and Harlington.

She also insisted that better plans be implemented for communicating with passengers at times of disruption.

Nadine said: “Govia know they have to do better. I have personally experienced the chaos caused by trains being cancelled, delayed or diverted.

“I was pleased to be able to pass on the wrath felt by many of my constituents who have experienced this on such a regular basis in the pre-Christmas period.”

Thameslink chief operating officer Dyan Cowther, and Network Rail area director Justin Page attended the meeting. Their spokesman said: “The meeting was productive; Nadine and Richard expressed their concerns of the recent service on Thameslink. Dyan explained the steps that are being taken to address the issues that were raised; this includes Thameslink working closer with Network Rail.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware of the frustration felt by passengers when things go wrong and are taking action to deliver a more reliable and consistent service on this line.”

In the meantime, Ms Dorries said constituents who suffer poor service from Govia can email her on nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk