Peter Kyle MP Rail Meeting
Peter Kyle MP Rail Meeting

I know that the problems on our network cause so much suffering to people living in our community so I always try to keep the pressure on in Parliament.
I never thought I’d go into politics and become a train nerd, but I learned pretty soon after becoming a candidate that that’s what you needed me to be. So here I am, parliament’s resident train nerd!
Nicholas Soames and I set up a grouping in parliament of all MP’s in Sussex to scrutinise and challenge the Southern network. It’s become a really powerful vehicle which was responsible for unlocking that extra £300m last year from government.
Today we convened our latest meeting and as a sign of how important this group is we had the rail minister, Jo Johnson, the CEO and COO of Govia, and a director of Network Rail all present. The groups power comes from the fact that we get every MP for the region together, working as one group across all parties, and we channel the anger, frustration, and desperation for improvement of you, passengers.
So, we learned today that GTR hit a landmark 2,000 drivers on its network, up over a hundred from recent months. More are coming online each week.
In December another 260 train services are going to be inserted into the timetable, completing the reform of timetables that went so disastrously wrong earlier this year. Once this happens there will be more services from Hove and Portslade’s three stations, especially to London.
When I asked if they have enough drivers trained on these new routes, the CEO of Govia simply said, ‘yes’.
Lots of questions were asked by MP’s, but I’ll mention this as it has relevance for our city and commuters from the eastern part of Hove. Caroline Lucas asked several questions about Preston Park Station and the lack of Gatwick Express services from there. The answer came back that two additional peak time services would be restored.
Both Caroline and I asked about compensation and the exclusion of Hove from the Thameslink compensation scheme. I know this has incensed many of you, and me included. I’m so sorry, but on this we couldn’t get the minister to budge but I warned him that Caroline and I would keep pushing on this!
I’ve mentioned before but the best way to increase capacity on the line would be an upgrade of the track and a new flyover at a place called Windmill Junction just outside East Croydon. It would increase capacity on the whole line by 40%. We raised this with Network Rail and the minister.
The land needed for this upgrade has now been secured and government has released the money to do the feasibility work. But get this, the total cost of the project would be £2 billion. It’s a big project! So, the feasibility is being done and is due to be presented for signify and funding in 2022. That feels like too long off, plus it is scheduled to be an election year, so our group is going to start pushing for it to be brought forward by a year.
There are loads of other things we mentioned. The weekend closures are a pain, I’ve been caught up in them too. But the work is on schedule and progressing well. A lot of the work is to prepare for February’s long closure where 35km of track is to be replaces and the electric ‘third rail’ upgraded and the Balcombe Tunnel waterproofed.
Finally, I am also pushing on fares. You deserve a break. Personally I want all fares to be dropped to the lowest Brighton to London fare which is the Thameslink fare. In April government launched a review into this and they seem to have forgotten about it. But I never forget these things and I’m nagging away to get this done. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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