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South coast line must get better, says rail minister

South coast line must get better, says rail minister

“Not acceptable”: rail minister Claire Perry Picture: Nigel Howard
Nicholas Cecil  Published: 15 December 2014  Updated: 14:44, 15 December 2014

Rail minister Claire Perry today condemned services on one of London’s busiest commuter lines as unacceptable — and demanded improvements.

Passengers have complained about frequent delays on the Brighton mainline, too little information about disrupted services and a lack of wi-fi.

“The standard of performance on this route is significantly below where it should be, and this is not acceptable,” Ms Perry told the Standard. “I have made clear to the industry that I expect Network Rail and the operators to take action to remedy matters.”

The route runs from the south coast to London Bridge and Victoria stations.

Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, raised the problems with Ms Perry in the Commons. “My constituents pay considerable sums of money for tickets and do not appreciate having to travel in discomfort, often on overcrowded and delayed trains,” he later said. He has met with Southern Railway and Network Rail about the problems.

Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, argued that the rail line from Lewes to Uckfield in East Sussex should be re-opened to relieve congestion.

Network Rail admitted performance on the Brighton mainline had “not been acceptable over the last few months” and it was “acutely aware” of the need to improve. A spokeswoman added: “We operate one of the busiest railway routes in the country?…?As a result, any delays or incidents, even very small ones, can quickly affect a large number of trains.”

She said Network Rail was investing to improve signalling and track reliability and adopting new contingency plans to react more quickly to disruptions.

Southern Railway accepted that punctuality on the mainline was “not good enough” and stressed its priority, working with Network Rail, was to improve services and reduce delays.

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