DEMANDS to improve the county’s flagging rail services have been made by the Government after Arundel’s MP raised his concerns.
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert met the rail minister earlier this month to discuss the deteriorating services across West Sussex.
Mr Herbert asked to see minister Claire Perry, the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Transport, to raise his constituents’ frustrations about the performance of the Arun Valley and Brighton lines.
The MP, who was recently appointed president of the West Sussex Rail Users Association, said he had received complaints about the punctuality of trains and that services needed to improve, especially on the Brighton mainline.
Mr Herbert highlighted how one particular line in the county failed to arrive on time for any of its 240 attempts last year – a woeful record which even caused comment from the Prime Minister during an interview with BBC Sussex and Surrey radio last week, who stressed that level of service was ‘not good enough’.
Speaking to the BBC, David Cameron said delayed services were ‘extremely frustrating’ and warned: “Frankly, if the operators continue to fail then they should be at risk of losing their franchise.”
Mr Herbert also raised the lack of adequate parking at Barnham railway station during his meeting at the Department for Transport, in Whitehall, which was attended by other senior officials.
In response, the minister said she was also concerned about the quality of the service, especially on the Brighton line, and has asked to meet the rail operating companies and Network Rail to discuss necessary improvements.
Mrs Perry said while a certain amount of disruption was caused by the £6 billion London Bridge improvements, which would improve services in future, this did not excuse poor reliability generally, especially on the Brighton line, where performance was declining.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Herbert said: “People pay a great deal, through their taxes and fares, for rail services, especially commuters, and they are entitled to a reliable service. I look forward to meeting with the rail operators and Network Rail with the Minister to hear how they intend to improve their performance.”
He added: “I will continue to ensure that my constituents’ concerns are heard and press for better local rail services.”
Mrs Perry said she would invite local MPs to a meeting with the train companies, Network Rail and the regulator to hear what action would be taken.
She said: “Nick Herbert has been assiduous in raising issues about his local rail service and I believe he has valid concerns.
“I have told Network Rail and the rail operating companies that they must improve reliability and will be convening a special meeting, which I have asked Nick to attend, so that they can explain what they propose to do.”