I am pleased to inform the House that from today (5 September 2016) Southern Railway have reinstated 119 train services into the weekday timetable. This means over 9 out of 10 trains on the network will be running in line with the original weekday timetable, and over a third of the 341 trains removed on 11 July as part of the temporary timetable, will be restored this week. This will benefit passengers on inner London services, almost all London Bridge peak trains and restores service to Southern’s West London Line. The remaining trains will be reinstated to the timetable incrementally in the coming weeks. This is an issue of vital importance to the government.
The government has invested more than £1.6 billion of taxpayers’ money in new, longer, and more spacious trains. These new trains are progressively being introduced on existing Thameslink rail services and other routes from May 2017. The new trains are fully equipped with the latest technology allowing drivers to safely operate the doors from the cab.
The introduction of these new trains will mean that conductors, who currently operate the train doors, are freed up to spend their time on the train helping passengers during their journeys. GTR has promised this new on board supervisor role will be open to all conductors and will not result in any job losses or pay reduction. These changes will clearly benefit passengers. Importantly the vast majority of trains that currently have an on-board conductor will keep that staff member in a new on-board passenger focused role.
The Secretary of State recently announced a targeted £20 million fund, to be spent by Network Rail under project board authority, and the appointment of one of Britain’s most experienced rail industry figures, Chris Gibb, to help get the service back running as it should. His post will be paid for by GTR and will involve heading a new project board, working with the train operator and Network Rail, to explore how to achieve a rapid improvement to services for the public. The board will oversee the £20 million fund and closer working between GTR and Network Rail to improve performance for Southern customers. A passenger representative will also be included on this review board to ensure commuters’ views are heard and improvements properly reflect passenger demands. The project board will present its plan in the autumn and actions will be implemented as soon as possible.