Lib Dems plan to 'sack' Southern Rail, says Lewes candidate

Southern Rail
Southern Rail

The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include plans to 'sack' Southern Rail, its Lewes candidate has said.

On Monday (May 15) Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) Kelly-Marie Blundell said the party's manifesto, which is set to be officially published on Wednesday (May 17), will include plans to set-up government-run companies to take over the running of both Southern Rail and Govia Thameslink.

She adds that the party also aims to allow public sector bodies and mutual groups involving staff and passengers to bid for franchises and to continue the Access for All programme, which aims to maintain disabled access to public transport as a key priority.

Ms Blundell said: “In the Lewes area we have put up with too much for too long. It's time for Southern to go – and the Lib Dems are committed to giving the contract to another company who can make sure the trains are run on time.

“While things have settled somewhat since the strikes ended, people in Plumpton are faced with the last train back from London being 7.47pm and those in Seaford and Newhaven being stuck with replacement buses weekend after weekend.

“I worked with residents locally to oppose plans to scrap the direct train from Seaford to London and handed over 3,000 signatures to the Prime Minister in December calling for Southern Rail to be sacked.

“This election is the chance for those of us who are blighted by Southern Rail problems to put an end to their contract and the ongoing problems by voting Lib Dem in Lewes.”

GTR has been approached for comment.

UPDATE 1.30pm

In response to the manifesto announcement, a Southern spokesman said: "As Ms Blundell says, things have settled down and almost nine out of 10 of our trains across the Southern network are now running on time after five months of sustained improvements in punctuality.

"We're determined to continue this by upgrading and modernising our systems and service to address capacity, congestion and punctuality on a network where passenger numbers have doubled in the past two decades. To help achieve this, we are working closely with Network Rail on their £300m package to improve reliability across our network."

Looking at the specific claim that weekend trains are being affected and that we are removing direct trains to Plumpton after 7.47pm, the spokesman added: "Network Rail's engineering work is absolutely essential to maintain reliability on local services. This is why, every other week, from May 22 until July 6, the three trains to Plumpton after 7.47pm from Victoria will terminate at Haywards Heath, Mondays to Thursdays, for a connecting rail replacement bus to Lewes.

"Those trains, however, will remain in the regular timetable - they are not being removed."