Calls for an urgent meeting with the rail minister and the transport secretary are being made as soaring numbers of passengers sign a petition for Southern to be stripped of its franchise.
The number of people adding their name has continued to rise rapidly
at nearly a thousand a day since Friday and at least half of the
signatories live in Sussex. As of today [Tuesday, May 31] 12, 466 had
signed. If more than 100,000 sign it will prompt a debate in parliament.
It comes after strikes by union members and widespread cancellations
of service - which the company blamed on "unprecedented" levels of staff
sickness - caused chaos for passengers since the beginning of May. The
company was seeking an injunction to prevent another strike at the High
Court last week.
Hove MP Peter Kyle wrote to Ms Perry and wants Mr McLoughlin to get involved in discussions.
His letter said: "My first formal meeting after being elected an MP
was with you to discuss this matter. At the time, you spoke of a joint
improvement plan which would deliver results by the end of 2015. Sadly
the service has continued to deteriorate over the last year, coming to a
head in recent months."
He spoke of a postbag and inbox filling up with daily stories from
"bitterly upset" passengers, adding: "I am sure we both agree, it simply
can’t go on like this. Promises of an improvement in the service when
programme is completed in 2018 is simply not good enough. Passengers
are not paying over £5,000 a year for a season ticket only to be told to
hang on for two years."
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, who said the franchise is "consistently failing passengers," is due to meet Ms Perry soon.
She said the operator is making improvements, including introducing
new trains and training more drivers, but it would "take time".
She added: "We’re are closely monitoring progress and remain fully
committed to working with Southern to get this railway back to high
The Department for Transport said it would not comment on ministerial meetings.
A Southern spokesman told The Argus the company was doing its "very
best" to improve punctuality and give passengers the quality service
From The Argus