Below is copy of the speech Cllr Max Deckers Dowber gave in light of the appalling service provided by Southern Railway.
Thank you Madame Mayor for the opportunity to speak and for allowing the debate to happen. My 4 year old son is going to be thrilled that I’m talking about trains.
As we’ve heard people in Lambeth and from further away have been suffering from the appalling service provided by Southern Railway. The failure to plan adequately for the major works at London Bridge, combined with staff shortages and a failure to maintain good industrial relations led to the introduction of an emergency timetable, while at the same time announcing a 27% increase in their profits.
It all seems made up. But its not. The impact on work and family life is very clear and completely unacceptable.
And, again who suffers? The normal every day Lambeth resident who just wants to go somewhere – to see a friend – to take their family away for a day and of course to and from work.
Passengers do not want the stress of being late, the frustration of being squeezed into carriages or to hear that dreaded announcement that the train has been cancelled.
Our residents should not have to put up with this travel misery. Passengers using Southern feel completely ignored and there is clearly an accountability deficit that exists between tickets prices and the actual Southern service.
I welcome this debate and of the campaigning work led by Lambeth cllrs, of Helen Hayes MP and Chuka Umuna MP and of the London Mayor, but I’d echo colleagues statements this evening that residents should not have to wait for the current franchise to end for change to happen – that’s 5 years.
No more excuses. Passengers cannot, and should not, have to wait.
And while we must continue to campaign for the Southern franchise to be brought back to TfL sooner rather than later what happens next?
Do TfL have the necessary resource to manage such a big franchise like Southern and if another franchise were to take it over might we see the same problems again?
The franchise model does not seem to be working, and in my view the Government needs to change track in order to look at ways to open up the rail market so those that pay for it and work for it, have a real stake in how our railways are run.
Could we look at user and employee involvement in the franchise procurement process?
Could we see actual passenger representation on franchise boards so they can provide a passenger viewpoint?
And, what about having real employee representation on the franchise boards to help build better industrial relations? Something that First Group already do I believe.
Residents have been let down by Southern and I look forward to working with members on behalf of our hard working residents to deliver a service that works.