Southern compensation ‘papering over cracks of appalling service’

Lib Dems, Stephen Lloyd former Eastbourne MP and Kelly-Marie Blundell, candidate for Lewes (photo submitted). SUS-160922-110022001
Lib Dems, Stephen Lloyd former Eastbourne MP and Kelly-Marie Blundell, candidate for Lewes (photo submitted). SUS-160922-110022001

Southern fare rises next year are a ‘kick in the teeth’ for passengers, according to Lewes Lib Dems.

Last week it was announced that ticket prices will increase by an average of 1.8 per cent from January 2, in line with annual increases of other train operators.

Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway has also announced a compensation package of four week’s free travel for season ticket holders, while also lowering threshold for compensation after delays down from 30 to 15 minutes.

Kelly-Marie Blundell, Liberal Democrat prospective Parliamentary candidate for Lewes, said: “Thousands of people across Lewes, Newhaven, Polegate and Seaford have suffered immensely over the last 18 months with continued disruption to rail services.

“To find out that the fares are going up next year, with no resolution to service problems in sight, is a kick in the teeth.

“With up to 80 per cent of our trains cut over the summer, and ongoing problems since the services were allegedly restored, I have yet to travel in one week without service disruption.

“Constituents are rightly fed up with the Conservative Government’s failure to address the problem and take the service contract away from Southern Rail.”

Philip Daniel, Lib Dem activist in Lewes and Ringmer, added: “With more and more people commuting, and less and less trains formore money, is it any surprise commuters have had enough?

“We need investment in the rail services in Lewes, not ever increasing prices and diminishing services.”

On compensation schemes, Ms Blundell felt it was ‘too little, too late’, adding: “The Government’s offer of a so-called month of compensation is using tax payers’ money to paper over the cracks in an appalling service.

“Southern continue to report profits, but it is the tax payer who is losing out twice – first paying for the service they deliver, and then paying out the compensation for the failure to deliver that service.

“Quite simply, Southern cannot run a railway and the Conservative Government should strip them of the contract.”

Last week, Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said: “Our passengers have had to endure many months of disruption and misery due to industrial action and poor performance and for that I am truly sorry. While they have clearly been able to claim under our Delay Repay scheme, we welcome this additional compensation package.

“It is also good news that our passengers will be the first to benefit from Delay Repay 15 as it is something our passengers have been telling us they want for some time. Our aim is always to get passengers to where they want to go on time, but if we don’t, it is right that they are compensated.”

Rail minister Paul Maynard added: “Getting Southern rail services back on track is a priority for the government and I know that what passengers want most is a reliable service. But when things do go wrong it is right that we compensate people who have not had the service that they deserve. This is a gesture in recognition of the problems people have faced.

“We’re working hard to get Network Rail and Southern to improve this network and get this railway working the way people expect. We are investing record amounts in improving our railways and we need everyone in the rail industry, including the unions, to work together to deliver for passengers.

“In addition from next week (December 11) passengers will be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late. This is a major improvement for passengers.”

GTR, has the details of most season ticket holders who will have given their details when purchasing their tickets, and will be inviting them to log into a website to claim compensation - which can be transferred directly to their bank account or claimed as vouchers.

Customers claiming against quarterly, monthly or weekly tickets must have bought travel for at least 12 weeks between April 24 and December 31 to be eligible.

Under Delay Repay 15, GTR passengers will be able to claim 25 per cent of the cost of the single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes, with passengers able to apply for compensation through the train operating company.

The existing ‘Delay Repay’ thresholds are as follows:

· 50 per cent of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes,

· 100 per cent of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more,

· 100 per cent of the return fare for delays of two hours or more.

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