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Passenger campaigners respond to Government's Southern rail announcement

1 September 2016

Campaign for Better Transport and the Association of British Commuters have responded to the announcement of new Government measures to improve Southern rail services.

Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"This is a welcome if delayed intervention from the Government. Targeted investment, better management and stronger passenger involvement will all help in getting Southern back on track. Passengers who have endured months of cancellations and delays will want the Government to go further though, particularly as commuters are still set to see their fares go up next year. As well as a fund for Southern, there should be a fund for passengers to compensate them for the disruptions they've suffered so far, and season ticket fares must be frozen next year so commuters aren't paying yet more for a beleaguered service. And we also need a Passenger Assembly where government, union representatives and Southern managers can answer directly to people and hear about their concerns."

Summer Dean from the Association of British Commuters, said:

"Southern passengers have been sidelined for too long and so it's good news there'll be a passenger representative on this new board. We need that representative to be genuinely representative of passengers, accountable and in touch with commuters, and not just tokenistic. The question for us is, will this board take responsibility and sort out a restoration of the full service and trains running reliably to time, or will just add another layer of bureaucracy? We just want an end to the blame-shifting."

ENDS

For further information please contact James MacColl, Head of Campaigns at Campaign for Better Transport, on 020 7566 6484/07984 773 468 or james.maccoll@bettertransport.org.uk 

Notes to Editors

1. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced that the Department for Transport will take the following measures to improve Southern rail services:

  • A project board involving the train operator Govia Thameslink Railway, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and a passenger representative will investigate how to improve services
  • £20 million funding for urgent improvements such as track repair, station staffing and rapid response teams

2. Campaign for Better Transport and the Association of British Commuters have called for the Government to:

  • Listen to passengers by attending a Passenger Assembly alongside a senior manager from Southern and a Union official to answer passengers' questions directly
  • Freeze fares for Southern customers from January for one year
  • Compensate Southern customers to make up for the decrease in services

3. Regulated rail fares including season tickets on most commuter journeys in England and Wales will increase by 1.9 per cent next year from January. The increase is equal to the July 2016 Retail Price Index inflation figure which was published on 16 August 2016.

4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).

5. The Association of British Commuters is an action group set up by Southern passengers who want to take a stand and let the Government know that they have had enough of suffering unreliable, late and packed trains.

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