Ranil Jayawardena MP Opinion Piece—May 2018

Growing up, working and living in the same community as you, I use all the same services—those that are excellent and those about which there are concerns.

As you may know, South Western Railway recently consulted on shocking cuts to our peak services. Almost 3,500 of you signed my petition that, just before Christmas, I delivered to SWR personally, along with almost 1,000 special response cards you signed in support of my formal response.

You will, I hope, have seen the news that the response to the consultation is public and they have listened to us, protecting our services! It would have been disastrous if our local services had been reduced, as that would have pushed more people into their cars and on to the roads around Fleet, Farnborough and Basingstoke—not good for anyone. I am delighted that no local station will now have fewer peak services than they have today—many thanks to everyone who signed my petition and backed my campaign—it shows what we can achieve together.

As always, there is more to do. It is absolutely no good having our services protected if they are frequently delayed, cancelled, short formation or run straight through stations—a point I keep making to SWR, Network Rail and Ministers. Recent reliability on the line has been appalling, so it was helpful to hear from you following my call for specific dates and times of sub-par trains. As promised, I met Minister of State for Transport, Jo Johnson, M.P.—and Network Rail also—to talk them through a compilation of those unacceptable incidents. Ministers are equally concerned about SWR’s performance and have assured me that the Department for Transport is monitoring closely and will be taking action. I will continue to push on this until performance improves—so please keep sending me specific dates and times!

I’m working for other rail improvements too. It is great that SWR have committed to a range of schemes for our stations: information screen improvements; re-painting; enhanced CCTV; and station WiFi that seamlessly links to on-board, improved WiFi—but, of course, these must be alongside decent train services! Further, many of you have raised Delay Repay and I am pushing for full rollout to smartcards and a smarter system as soon as possible. Finally, while the consultation outcome was good, we can deliver more capacity on our line—potentially with extra services between Fleet and London—another win for our local stations. Any other ideas?

If you have thoughts on the above, or anything else, I would love to hear from you, so do get in touch either by email: Ranil@TellRanil.com or post: Ranil Jayawardena MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

P.S. Details of my future, regular, free public Q&As for constituents will be on my website here.